Kusanku Kata

The Kusanku Kata is a relatively long, complex, and quite tiring form. The form includes just over sixty different movements. It will take you some time to work through the form and to then perfect many of its movements and sequences. Take your time. There is no hurry.

In most martial arts styles this is an advanced form. Most systems with Okinawa origins refer to the form as Kusanku. The original form name derives from a Chinese diplomat named Kusanku who visited Okinawa in the 18th century. In Japanese styles the form is often called Kanku. Gichin Funakoshi renamed the form giving it the name Kanku. The form retains the name Kanku in most modern Karate systems. The name generally means ‘contemplating the sky.’ The Kanku Kata often has two versions, Kanku Dai and Kanku Sho.

We learn and practice a single Kusanku form. This form exhibits great intensity, speed, complexity, and several unusual movements. The form is quite tiring when done at full intensity. You will want to practice the form with a variety of timings (vary the timings used in any two consecutive performances) so that you can retain your composure, regain your breath, and preserve your energy at various times in the form. This is good training to enable you to control your rate of energy expenditure at various points in a conflict.

In our discussions below we present movements by utilizing names and activities that by now are quite familiar to you. This includes common strikes, blocks, and kicks. But realize that these discussions provide you a basic framework for learning the Kata. They do not necessarily imply the full nature or extent of a movement. For example, the discussion might say to execute a Gedan Barai. While a Gedan Barai might be appropriate for some Bunkai at that point in the Kata, it may also be true that the Gedan Barai is actually a sweeping downward thrusting hand strike. The movement might also be employed to execute Nage. When you read the discussion below realize that the descriptions represent generalizations of movement and may not represent the true nature or intent of the movement. We strive to remind you of this at various times in the notes column.

As an advanced student you should readily devise completely viable Bunkai for any movement in the form. Keep in mind this form generally represents powerful and destructive actions. Your Bunkai should generally favor this theme. During your ranking examination your Examination Lead may ask you to demonstrate viable Bunkai for any portion of the form. You may also be asked to demonstrate two different Bunkai for any specific sequence in the form. You should develop at least three unique Bunkai applications for each part of the form. By now you should find this relatively simple to do.

Traditionally this form relies on returning the hands to set position. A quick review of videos demonstrating this and related forms will reveal almost universal usage of set position. You may find there are times where this provides some amplification of movement or offers some manipulation of an opponent’s structure. These are all viable reasons for moving the hands to set position and we recommend you consider how set position can prove beneficial. As a martial arts system we generally dislike automatically moving hands to set position. If you have a viable Bunkai reason for utilizing set position then by all means include that application in your form. But if there is no practical reason for utilizing set position then we recommend you consider establishing a viable guard position instead. Obviously, if you are practicing this form for performance in an outside tournament that expects set hand-positions, then you would want to practice the form using set positions exclusively. But from a martial perspective we think you will benefit from always utilizing a guard position whenever practical.

The procedural discussion below utilizes the Octagon model to describe how to move and where to focus various blocks, strikes, and kicks. If you are unfamiliar with this model you may wish to review our discussion of The Octagon before delving too deeply into the procedural details.

Kusanku Kata Procedure

STEPSTANCETRANSITIONMOVEMENTNOTES
IchiEstablish Heisoku Dachi F1.Perform the traditional opening salutation.
NiEstablish Musubi DachiOpen both hands and lower both arms below your waist in front of you at the center line. The left hand should be on top of the right hand.
SanMaintain the Musubi DachiMaintaining the same hand posture, raise both hands forward and above your head while allowing your hips to move back.This may look like you are preparing to dive into a swimming pool. It may also protect your head when you are in close contact with an opponent.
YonMaintain the Musubi DachiMaintain your hip position.Slowly circle your hands outward then down until the little fingers of each hand touch one another again. Your hands will be below waist level and significantly forward of your hips.Pause in this ending position for a few seconds.
GoMusubi DachiRise briskly to an erect posture.Strike forward with Hidari Chudan Shuto Uchi as you simultaneously move the right hand to guard position.This entire sequence is done quite briskly. The striking hand may travel in a circular or linear manner prior to achieving the ultimate striking position, depending on Bunkai.
RokuHidari Zenkutsu Dachi F5.Step initially with the left leg to establish a temporary Heiko Dachi, then step to A4 with the right leg to establish the Zenkutsu Dachi.Simultaneously block with Hidari Age Uke and Migi Gedan Barai, both T5.Both hands are open for these blocks. The Gedan Barai follows a circular delivery path.
NanaMigi Zenkutsu Dachi F7.Without moving your feet, shift into a Migi Zenkutsu Dachi F7.Issue a Migi Age Uke and Hidari Gedan Barai, both toward A7.Both hands are open for these blocks. The Gedan Barai follows a circular delivery path.
HachiMigi Zenkutsu Dachi F7.Hidari Ura Chudan Uke T7. Right hand moves to guard position.
KuShift your weight onto your right leg.Quickly raise and then lower your left leg by simply flexing the knee.The heel of the foot usually rises straight up. The distance depends on intended Bunkai.
JuHidari Zenkutsu Dachi F5.Without moving your feet, shift into Hidari Zenkutsu Dachi F5.In quick succession, issue Migi Ken Tsuki followed immediately by Migi Ura Chudan Uke.Often the Ura Chudan is held in tension for a few seconds - though this may not always be practical Bunkai.
Ju IchiHidari Zenkutsu Dachi F5.Shift your weight onto your left legQuickly raise and then lower your right leg by simply flexing the knee.The heel of the foot usually rises straight up. The distance depends on intended Bunkai.
Ju NiMigi Zenkutsu Dachi F7.Without moving your feet shift into a Migi Zenkutsu Dachi F7.In quick succession, issue Hidari Ken Tsuki followed immediately by Hidari Ura Chudan Uke.Often the Ura Chudan is held in tension for a few seconds - though this may not always be practical Bunkai.
Ju SanMigi Neko Ashi Dachi F2.Step L1R2 as you turn CW to establish Migi Neko Ashi Dachi F2.Simultaneously deliver Migi Mae Ashi Geri and Migi Uraken Tsuki T2.
Ju YonHidari Sochin Dachi F1Step R2L5 as you turn CCW to from Hidari Sochin Dachi F1.Bring both open hands to a natural guard position.Alternate Bunkai for use of the hands in these positions should also be seriously considered.
Ju GoMigi Sochin Dachi F1Step R7 to establish Migi Sochin Dachi F1Shift hand positions so they again settle in a natural open hand guard position.Alternate Bunkai for use of the hands in these positions should also be seriously considered.
Ju RokuHidari Sochin Dachi F1Step L5 to establish Hidari Sochin Dachi F1.Shift hand positions so they again settle in a natural open hand guard position. Keep the back hand slightly lower than normal.Alternate Bunkai for use of the hands in these positions should also be seriously considered.
Ju NanaMigi Han Zenkutsu Dachi F1Step quickly R7 then shuffle forward R1L1 to establish Migi Han Zenkutsu Dachi F1.Concurrent with the stance transition press the open right hand forward and upward. As you establish the final stance strike with Migi Chudan Tate Gyaku Tsuki T1.The right hand should be positioned palm up as you begin moving forward. This same hand then strikes with the Gyaku Tsuki using a vertically oriented fist as you perform the shuffle part of the movement. Do not retract the right hand prior to issuing the Gyaku Tsuki. The forward movement is normally done as a continuously flowing sequence.
Ju HachiHidari Han Zenkutsu Dachi F2Slide the back foot T6 as you rotate CCW until you establish Hidari Zenkutsu Dachi F2.During the rotation press the open right palm inward to form Migi Chudan Barai Uke T2. As you settle into the stance deliver Hidari Chudan Tate Gyaku Tsuki T2.Consider how you will protect your head and face as you first initiate this turn. The block may not offer sufficient protection.
Ju KuMigi Han Zenkutsu Dachi F2Shuffle forward R8L2 to form Migi Han Zenkutsu Dachi F2Strike with Migi Tate Gyaku Tsuki T2.The open left hand is placed in guard position.
Ni JuMigi Juji Dachi F1Slide the left leg back T5 then rotate CCW to form Migi Juji Dachi F1.Allow the open hand to function as a sweeping block during the rotation into the Juji Dachi. As the rotation nears completion extend the right hand to form Migi Nukite Uchi.The left hand ultimately stops just behind the left ear. The Nukite Uchi is delivered with the palm facing upward. With different Bunkai this could also be considered to be a Shuto Uchi, a grab, or even Hirate Uchi.
Ni Ju IchiHidari Ippon DachiWithout moving your left leg or changing your hand positions, raise the right leg and deliver Migi Mae Geri T1.
Ni Ju NiHidari Iaigoshi Dachi F2.At the conclusion of the previous kick do not return the leg but instead step R5 then rotate CCW and drop onto the right knee to form Hidari Iaigoshi Dachi F2.Deliver Hidari Ura Chudan Uke T2 as you settle into the stance.Consider possible uses for the hands during the rotational part of this sequence. Consider Bunkai employing the Ura Chudan Uke as Ken Tsuki instead, or perhaps utilizing a combination Ura Chudan Uke and Ken Tsuki.
Ni Ju SanHidari Han Zenkutsu Dachi F2.Rise upward while straightening the right leg until you establish Hidari Han Zenkutsu Dachi F2.Strike with Migi Tate Oi Tsuki T2 as you establish the stance.The open left hand should be placed in an effective guard position.
Ni Ju YonHidari Juji Dachi F2Rotate your hips and torso to establish Hidari Juji Dachi F2.Allow the open hand to function as a sweeping block during the rotation into the Juji Dachi. As the rotation nears completion extend the left hand to form Hidari Nukite Uchi.The right hand ultimately stops just behind the right ear. The Nukite Uchi is delivered with the palm facing upward. With different Bunkai this could also be considered to be a Shuto Uchi, a grab, or even Hirate Uchi. You may need to make small adjustments to the right foot position to establish a viable Juji Dachi.
Ni Ju GoHidari Ippon DachiWithout moving your left leg or changing your hand positions, raise the right leg and deliver Migi Mae Geri T2.
Ni Ju RokuHidari Iaigoshi Dachi F1At the conclusion of the previous kick do not return the leg but instead step R6 then rotate CCW and drop onto the right knee to form Hidari Iaigoshi Dachi F1.Deliver Hidari Ura Chudan Uke T2 as you settle into the stance.Consider possible uses for the hands during the rotational part of this sequence. Consider Bunkai employing the Ura Chudan Uke as Ken Tsuki instead, or perhaps utilizing a combination Ura Chudan Uke and Ken Tsuki.
Ni Ju NanaHidari Han Zenkutsu Dachi F2.Rise upward while straightening the right leg until you establish Hidari Han Zenkutsu Dachi F1.Strike with Migi Tate Oi Tsuki T1 as you establish the stance. Look T3.The open left hand should be placed in an effective guard position.
Ni Ju HachiHidari Neko Ashi Dachi F3.Rotate CCW as you pull the left leg inward to establish Hidari Neko Ashi Dachi F3.Simultaneously deliver Hidari Mae Ashi Geri and Hidari Uraken Tsuki T3.Do not return the kick.
Ni Ju KuHidari Iaigoshi DachiAt the completion of the previous kick step L8 and settle into Hidari Iaigoshi Dachi F3.As you settle into the stance extend the open left hand T3 and then deliver a Migi Mae Empi Uchi T3 such that the elbow impacts into the palm of your open left hand.
San JuMigi Neko Ashi Dachi F4.Immediately rise and rotate CW. Concurrently pull the right leg inward to establish Migi Neko Ashi Dachi F4.Simultaneously deliver Migi Mae Ashi Geri and Migi Uraken Tsuki T4.Do not return the kick.
San Ju IchiMigi Iaigoshi DachiAt the conclusion of the previous kick step R6 and settle into Migi Iaigoshi Dachi F3.As you settle into the stance extend the open right hand T4 and then deliver a Hidari Mae Empi Uchi T4 such that the elbow impacts into the palm of your open right hand.
San Ju NiHidari Sochin Dachi F5Rise up, rotate CCW, and slide the right leg slightly T1 until you establish Hidari Sochin Dachi F5.Extend a Hidari Shuto T5 while placing the open right hand in an effective guard position.The purpose of the Shuto depends on Bunkai interpretations. It might be employed as Shuto Uke, Shuto Uchi, to even Nage.
San Ju SanMigi Sochin Dachi F5.Step forward R1 to establish Migi Sochin Dachi F5.Allow the back hand to extend forward and over the front hand until you establish a Migi Shuto T5. The back hand should be placed in an effective guard position.The purpose of the Shuto depends on Bunkai interpretations. It might be employed as Shuto Uke, Shuto Uchi, to even Nage. It might also be employed in combination with the prior movement. Think beyond the obvious.
San Ju YonMigi Sochin Dachi F7Rotate CW and step R4 to establish Migi Sochin Dachi F7.Extend a Migi Shuto T7 while placing the back hand in an effective guard position.The purpose of the Shuto depends on Bunkai interpretations. It might be employed as Shuto Uke, Shuto Uchi, to even Nage. Consider how this might be used in combination with the prior movement.
San Ju GoHidari Sochin Dachi F7Step forward L1 to establish Hidari Sochin Dachi F7.Allow the back hand to extend forward and over the front hand until you establish a Hidari Shuto T7. The back hand should be placed in an effective guard position.Like the previous notes, consider how this might be used in combination with prior or future movements for some effective Bunkai purpose.
San Ju RokuKiba Dachi F4.Shuffle R2L2 and establish Kiba Dachi F4.Extend both open hands forward along your center line to form Chudan Juji Uke.The left arm should rest on top of the right arm.
San Ju NanaHidari Juji Dachi F1.Without moving your feet, rotate CCW to establish Hidari Juji Dachi F1.Allow the left hand to function as a sweeping block during the rotation into the Juji Dachi. As the rotation nears completion extend the right hand to form Migi Nukite Uchi T1.The left hand will settle behind your left ear. As discussed previously, the hand strike might alternately be employed as a Shuto or any other movement ranging from blocks to Nage.
San Ju HachiHidari Ippon DachiWithout moving the hand positions raise the right leg and deliver Migi Mae Geri T1.Do not return the kick.
San Ju KuMigi Juji Dachi F1At the completion of the previous kick step R7L6 to establish Migi Juji Dachi F1.During this transition deliver Migi Gedan Tate Tettsui Uchi then Hidari Gedan Tate Tettsui Uchi. Leave the left hand in its extended position, then deliver Migi Gedan Tate Tettsui Uchi.At the completion of this sequence the right closed hand should rest atop the closed and extended left hand. Both hands are extended forward at the Gedan level along your center line. You remain in Juji Dachi.
Yon JuMigi Han Zenkutsu Dachi F1.Shuffle to your left L8R3 to establish Migi Han Zenkutsu Dachi F1.Deliver Migi Chudan Uraken Tsuki T1 while maintaining the hand well within your center triangle.This could easily also be considered a block or some form of manipulation. Your Bunkai may vary.
Yon Ju IchiMigi Han Zenkutsu DachiWithout moving your feet, strike in rapid succession with Hidari Chudan Ken Tsuki and then Migi Chudan Ken Tsuki.These might also be Tate Ken Tsuki strikes.
Yon Ju NiHidari Neko Ashi Dachi F2.Rotate CCW as you step R5 and pull the left leg inward to form Hidari Neko Ashi Dachi F2.
Yon Ju SanHidari Sochin Dachi F2.Slide the left leg T6 as you shuffle forward to establish a transitional Hidari Sochin Dachi F2Strike with Hidari Uraken Tsuki T2 as you allow your forward movement to carry your center of gravity forward of your left leg.The movement is continuous and you never really settle into the Sochin Dachi. The forward momentum you develop will be utilized in the next movement.
Yon Ju YonModified Migi Iaigoshi Dachi.Using your forward momentum, deliver Migi Tobi Mawashi Geri. Rotate your body in mid air such that your head will be oriented T1 while your feet are oriented T2. Land face down on your right leg with your straightened left leg trailing behind you generally in the direction of A8. Look right then look left. Your torso may be oriented parallel to the floor or somewhat elevated. Both hands should rest on the floor.
Yon Ju GoModified Hidari Iaigoshi DachiRaise your torso upward as you pivot about your mother line and allow both legs to raise up and off the ground. Rotate in the air until you can land with your head facing A2 and your feet facing A1. Land with the left leg bent and your straightened right leg trailing behind you in the general direction of A5. Look left then look right.This should be a rapid rotational transition in which you essentially spin in place. Your torso may be oriented parallel to the floor or somewhat elevated. Both hands should rest on the floor.
Yon Ju RokuMigi Han Zenkutsu Dachi F2.Quickly rise up and step R8L2 to establish Migi Han Zenkutsu Dachi F2. As you settle into your stance deliver Migi Chudan Uraken Tsuki T2. Without moving your feet, strike with Hidari Chudan Ken Tsuki then Migi Chudan Ken Tsuki.As with all movements in this form this sequence can have multiple applications.
Yon Ju NanaHidari Neko Ashi Dachi F1.Step R6 and rotate CCW then pull your left leg inward to establish Hidari Neko Ashi Dachi F1.
Yon Ju HachiMigi Juji Dachi F1.Step forward R1 to establish a Migi Neko Ashi Dachi.While in transition press downward with an open hand Hidari Gedan Uke followed by Migi Nukite Tsuki T1.The Nukite Tsuki is delivered with the palm facing upward. It is generally positioned at roughly throat level, but could easily be applied at different locations and for different purposes.
Yon Ju KuHidari Sochin Dachi F5.Rotate rapidly CCW until you can place your left leg T3. Now continue rotating until you establish Hidari Sochin Dachi F5.As you settle into the stance deliver Hidari Gedan Barai T5. Shift your weight onto your back leg as you deliver simultaneous Hidari Mae Ashi Geri and Hidari Uraken Tsuki T5.Do not return the kick.
Go JuHidari Han Zenkutsu Dachi.Following the completion of the previous kick step forward L3 to establish Zenkutsu Dachi F3. Now slide the back leg forward to establish Hidari Han Zenkutsu Dachi.As you slide into the Han Zenkutsu Dachi extend the left open hand forward then strike with Migi Mae Empi Uchi into the palm of your extended left hand.
Go Ju IchiHidari Sochin Dachi F7Rotate CW then step L1 to establish Hidari Sochin Dachi F7.Deliver open hand Morote Ken Tsuki strikes T7. The right hand is at Chudan level, the right hand is at Gedan level.
Go Ju NiMigi Sochin Dachi F2.Step L7 and rotate CW to establish Migi Sochin Dachi F2.Deliver Migi Gedan Barai T2 while concurrently pulling your left hand back and behind your left ear.The Bunkai for this movement may involve much more than a simple block.
Go Ju SanKiba Dachi F3.Step forward with the left leg T2 and rotate CW until you can establish Kiba Dachi F3.Deliver Migi Chudan Uke, Hidari Chudan Uke, and an open handed Chudan Juji Uke all T3.The hands are closed for the Chudan Uke. The right arm rests on top of the left arm during the Juji Uke. Maintain the final hand position.
Go Ju YonMigi Han Zenkutsu Dachi F2.Rotate CW and then step L7 to establish Migi Han Zenkutsu F2. While keeping your Juji Uke in place, rotate into the final stance then pull both hands to set position above your left hip.
Go Ju RokuHidari Han Zenkutsu Dachi F2.Set forward with the left leg in an effort to gain some moment. As your left leg lands spring upward to deliver a Tobi Mae Geri - Tobi Mae Ashi Geri combination. Land on your right leg then step L6 to establish the Hidari Han Zenkutsu Dachi F2.Your hands remain closed and in a Juji configuration at the apex of your center triangle. Both kicks are performed during a single jump.
Go Ju NanaMigi Han Zenkutsu Dachi F2.Shuffle forward R8L2 to establish Migi Han Zenkutsu Dachi F2.As you establish the stance deliver Migi Uraken Tsuki T2. Immediately deliver Hidari Chudan Ken Tsuki followed by Migi Chudan Ken Tsuki.The left hand returns to either set or guard position as the first strike is delivered.
Go Ju HachiHidari Sochin Dachi F1.Step R6 and rotate CCW to establish Hidari Zenkutsu Dachi F1.Move both open hands to a standard guard position.The hands might be used for blocks, guards, parries, strikes, throws, or any other martial application. Yes, the Kata is almost over, but you should still be thinking about multiple applications for everything.
Go Ju KuMigi Sochin Dachi F1.Step R7 to establish Migi Sochin Dachi F1.Move both open hands to a standard guard position.The back hand moves under and then outside the front hand when initiating this transition. This is counter to many of the earlier movements. Why might this transition be utilized?
Roku JuMusubi Dachi F1.Pull the right leg back to establish Musubi Dachi F1.Close the right hand and place it in the palm of the open left hand along your center line at Chudan level. Now use the left hand to press your left hand down to Gedan level.Both hands remain in constant contact as they move downward. Both hands will turn over as they descend. Both palms will face you initially but will face downward at the conclusion of the sequence.
Roku Ju IchiPerform the closing salutation
Roku Ju NiYoi

 

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