The Kata of Isshin-ryu
Kusanku Kata is a highly advanced kata
which means, “to view the sky.” In 1750 A.D., a Chinese military attaché’
and public official named Kong Su Kung (pronounced Kusanku in Okinawan) was sent
When Sakugawa was around 30 years old he developed Kusanku kata from a series of techniques he learned from Kusanku and Takahara. He named his kata in honor of his instructor, Kusanku. He then passed the kata down to Master Matsumora who taught it to Master Kyan who then passed it on to Master Shimabuku around 1926.
Kusanku teaches change of body position and the ability to adapt to changing situations spontaneously. It presents techniques of fighting in the dark, by touch and by sound, as well as jumping and leaping. The kata symbolizes fighting up to fifteen different opponents in a large field of uneven terrain utilizing deception. It employs four major stances: Seisan, cat, Seiuchin, and crane. There are two kiais. The first is done on the initial backfist-kick combination. The second kiai is on the fourth backfist-kick combination.
The major kick of Kusanku is the front snap kick. There are many different strikes such as; kneeling elbow, hammerfist, spearhand, and double palm heel strikes. It contains over 80 movements and takes slightly over one minute to perform correctly. The kata introduces students to low kneeling defensive postures. For example, after executing a flying crescent kick block, the karate-ka turns180 degrees and lands on the left knee with the right knee close to the chest, then the student reverses the movements and facing the opposite direction. Kusanku also introduces simultaneous hand and foot attacks such as a front snap kick and backfist combination, which is used five times throughout the kata.