A Rare Kata: Kensei Dai

I train Shorin-Ryu Karate at the Pro-Am Martial Arts Academy in Murrieta, CA. When I got to the blue belt curriculum, my instructors introduced me to the kata “Kensei.” Anytime I learn a kata after getting the basic sequence, I go into research mode to learn as much as I can about the particular kata. However, gathering information concerning Kensei has proven rather difficult.

I found two katas called “Kensei Sho” and “Kensei Dai” in this kata list from Hayashi Shito-Ryu which made me wonder, “which kata, if any, is the “Kensei” I’ve been learning.” Then, a few months later, I found the following video:

This is the very kata that I knew as Kensei! To show the similarities in this kata and the kata as I was taught it, have a look at this:

The preliminary significant differences are as follows:

(1) the steps up the “I” of the embusen (Japanese, “pattern” referring to the kata’s footwork pattern); mine includes a half-step which is less mechanically stable than this karateka’s full front stances, and

(2) the hand sequence at the end of block-punch-kick sequence back down the “I”, which is not included in the previous karateka’s performance.

Historical Significance

A small My lineage goes as follows: Stanley Lara-Keller & Travis Seay > … > William Bartholomew > Joe Pagliuso (founder of USKO) > Richard Nakano > Walter Nishioka > Various. The most significant innovators in this lineage are

  1. Walter Nishioka Shihan (founder of the International Karate League (IKL) in Honolulu, Hawai’i) developed “modified Shorin-Ryu” are “primarily Wado-Ryu Karate with some Shotokan and Shito-Ryu Influences” further modified by Judo, Jujitsu, Aikido, White Crane Kung Fu, Goju-Ryu, and his background in military self-defense.
  2. Joe Pagliuso, who with the United States Karate Organization (USKO) board expanded the scope of Nishioka Shihan’s modified Shorin-Ryu with the inclusion of kickboxing and submission grappling to the curriculum. The site for the USKO board is http://uskotraining.com

With the inclusion of this kata in the Hayashi Shito-Ryu and none of the other lineages in which Nishioka Shihan trained, I believe that he most likely learned Kensei Dai from his Shito-Ryu instructor. These are merely educated guesses.

This is the start of my research into Kensei Dai. Do any of you practice Kensei Dai or have more information on this kata or its corresponding kata “Kensei Sho”?


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