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Fukyugata Ichi

Ichi- A brisk left turn, down block in low stance.
Ni- Execute a middle punch in high stance…….

 

Yes, we are thorough with the movements from doing it endless times in our  white belt classes. This kata is the most basic kata for all Guju-Ryu, Shorin-Ryu and many other systems of Karate. Our mind and hearts are so imprinted with the block-punch timing, know when we shout Kia… and to the final rei. Well, everything has been deeply stored in our muscle memory as well.  But how many of us know the background of this Kata? What is the meaning and how it originated….?

Fukyugata = promotional Kata

Fukyugata is the combination of two Japanese terms – Fukyu  and Kata where Fukyu means promotional or introductory. When Kata combined with Fukyu the sound changes as “gata” and finally becomes “Fukyugata”. There are two version of Fukyugata – Ichi (First) and Ni (Second). The first one of these series has been created by Hanshi Shoshin Nagamine (1907 - 1997), the founder of Matsubayashi-Ryu Karate system.

The need of a promotional Kata

In the post-war period in Okinawa, as Karate was getting popular among general public and was introduced to schools, there arose  a need for a systematic syllabus which has to be taught in every level of Karateka (Karate practitioners ). Traditional Katas being long, complex and requiring some level of dexterity to perform, a simple straight forward Kata was required for the Karate curriculum. Upon the Governor Hayakawa’s request, Sensei Nagamin developed a promotional Kata for beginners in 1940, comprises all the basic elements. However, the kata was accepted and ratified by the Special Committee in June of 1941. And this is the only Kata Nagamine sensei created in his 75 years of Karate life. From this we can understand  how carefully and strategically this Kata was created.

Kata Dissection

Kamai

:

Musubi Dachi

Movements

:

21

Directions

:

8

Stances

:

Forward Stance (Zenkutsu Dachi)

Straight Leg stance (Choku Dachi)

Punches

:

3 - lunge punches (Oi-Tsuki),

4 - Reverse punches (Gyaku Tsuki),

2 - Upper punches (Jodan Tsuki)

Blocks

:

7 - Down Blocks (Gedan Barai)

 2 - Upper blocks (Jodan Uke)

Kata Strategy

Being the first promotional kata, it was strategically designed in  defence-attack manner. That means, each of the movement in the Kata is a response-reaction or a block and punch scenario.   In order to design this first promotional kata simple and straightforward, the founder has avoided kicks and other advance techniques which needs more dexterity. Altogether there are 21 movements in 8 directions in this Kata, having basic down block, upper block, lunge punches, reverse punches with only two basic stands namely Zenkutsu Dachi (Forward bend stance) and Choku Dachi (straight leg stance).

The Kata starts with Musubi Dachi (heel touched together and toes pointing 45 degree outside) and ends with drawing the leg backwards to the Kamia position in Musubi Dachi. Unlike all other Seibukan katas, the Fukyugata is a perfect symmetrical kata, having mirrored movements on both sides, comprises of Geden barai in Zenkutsu Dachi, Jodan Uke and punches in Choku dachi. And it also addresses 8 directions of defences / attacks.

The acceptance of the Kata

Being simple and straight forward compared with Okinawan traditional katas which are longer and complex, this kata has been well accepted by the beginners, especially the foreign students, majority were American army men at that period. This helped to transport and popularize the new Karate-do into other countries like United States, Canada, South America and Europe.

Winding up this short summery with “Shomen-ni-rei” to the great Hanshi Shoshin Nagamin, the founder of Fukyugata and Matsubayashi-Ryu, author, soldier, police man and the ex-mayor of Naha, Okinawa.