Kanku Dai

Viewing the Sky, Major Version (kata). A Shotokan kata. The Okinawan name is the name in Chinese of the creator.


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Kanku-Dai is the longest and one of the most complex Shotokan kata, with its 65 movements. It is bold, filled with the basic and advanced theories of movement, combat evasion and striking and also some very advanced ideas on battlefield grappling. A student that selects Kanku-Dai is looking at years of challenge and lessons that can be learned and enjoyed.


Kanku-Dai was Funakoshi Gichin’s favourite kata. He felt it contained all the essential aspects of Shotokan, and performed it at the first public Karate demonstration outside of Okinawa. The kata is named after Kūsankū, a Chinese diplomat from Fukien who traveled to Okinawa around 1756 to teach his Gung Fu system of fighting. The accepted Japanese translation for Kanku-Dai is to view the sky, a reflection of the first set of moves in the kata.

Kūsankū did not directly create or pass on a kata called Kusanku, but rather his student "Tode" Sukagawa created a form from his teachings and passed it on to Sokon Matsumura, who in turn taught his version to Yasutsune Itosu his students. As a student of Itosu, Funakoshi trained in this kata and altered it to create Kanku-Dai. Itosu also created Kanku-Sho and passed this on to Funakoshi.

It was from Kanku-Dai (and Jion, and Bassai-Dai) that Itosu created the Heian kata series, for school children. When a student has mastered the Heian kata then the more advance parent kata should feel somewhat familiar. Over time the Heian series became the opening kata for all new students.

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