Each month, the Senseis choose one kata for the “kata of the month.” The Adult class will focus on learning the kata, and it will also guide the training in kumite and kihon. This month’s kata is Nijushiho. Come and learn (or review) this interesting kata and see how you can use its techniques in your karate.

Kata Nijushio by Sensei Rolf Lohr

Literally translated, Nijushiho means “Twenty-four Steps.” Of course,  over time it has changed subtly, and now has thirty-four steps, according to the most recent JKA text.  The original name of the kata when it was developed in Okinawa was Niseishi, which means 24. The kata is similar to the kata Unsu and Sochin, which came from Seisho Aragaki. The Aragaki katas are the most popular of the advanced Shotokan kata, with unusual and mystical moves, allowing a natural flow from one move to another.

Characteristics of Nijushiho

The typical characteristics are the soft and fluent transition of techniques and changes from slow to fast movements. It is an excellent kata for developing timing and rhythm. The duration should be about 45 seconds. The embusen (pattern) is quite dense, not allowing for too many steps in any one direction. Changes in direction are made with very little motion, giving this kata a small footprint.

Special Techniques and Stances

Sanchin-dachi is one of the specialties of this kata, as are the double-fist strikes called awase-tsuki which are used for close-range fighting. In addition, the kata features sliding steps (suri ashi) both forwards and backwards. The idea of the kata is that the karate just defend within a small area against quickly-changing opponents. The two long-range techniques in the kata are the two yoko geri kekomi. These techniques are likely a more recent innovation; they were historically only knee lifts. You can also find circular defensive arm movements and haishu uke backhand strike defenses.

In the Nakayama Best Karate book vol 10, this kata has 33 moves.  Recently, JKA made the downward block following move 26 as an additional move (27), resulting in the new count.