Gojūshihō

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Gojūshihō (“54 Steps”) is a popular kata, which is included in the curricula of many karate styles. Gojūshihō is typically reserved for black belts, since it is long and technically complex.

No one knows who created this form, though its name suggests a Buddhist origin. Buddhists place an intense numerological significance on the number 108 and its factors; 108 ÷ 2 = 54. Gojūshihō may have been imported from China, as many of its movements appear in the Bubishi (Wubei Zhi), a popular military textbook from 1620’s China. Excerpts from this book were circulated around Okinawa, influencing the development of karate. The Bubishi also refers to a fighting system called “The 54 Steps of the Black Tiger;” which may be Gojūshihō, or one of its evolutionary ancestors.

Directions

[video of Gojūshihō, performed fast and slow, viewed from cameras at #1, 3, 7, 5. Be sure that you take up the whole frame. A lot of our old kata videos are from too far away, and it hides some detail. ]

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  1. Stand in an attention stance with open hands at groin level; you left hand overlaps your right hand, with your palms facing inward. With strong nogare breathing, raise and rotate your hands into a palms-up position at solar plexus level, and clench your right hand into a fist.
  2. Step your right foot out to #8, kneeling on your left knee, facing #1, with a downward X-block.
  3. Rise up, twisting into a right cat stance facing #3 with a left supported chūdan uke.
  4. Immediately execute a double ridge-hand block, followed by a double punch.
  5. Step your left foot to #3, transitioning into a left sanchin dachi, before twisting into a left cat stance facing #7 with a right supported chūdan uke.
  6. Immediately execute a double ridge-hand block, followed by a double punch.
  7. Invert your cat stance, stepping your left foot to #3, entering a left front stance facing #2 with a left ridge-hand block, which immediately turns over into a left grasping block.
  8. Execute a reverse punch, front-foot punch, right front kick, and a reverse punch.
  9. Shift into a right front stance facing #8, with a right ridge-hand block, which immediately turns over into a grasping block.
  10. Execute a reverse punch, front-foot punch, right front kick, and a reverse punch.
  11. Twist counter-clockwise into an attention stance facing #5 with a left outside shutō block, and then a right punch to the opponent’s solar plexus.
  12. Slide your right leg back to #2, entering a left front stance facing #5 with a right downward shutō block.
  13. Step your right foot to #4, entering a right front stance facing #5, with a right ridgehand block. Execute a left four-fingered spearhand strike to the opponent’s throat.
  14. Step your left foot to #6, entering a left front stance facing #5, with a left ridgehand block. Execute a right four-fingered spearhand strike to the opponent’s throat.
  15. Step your right foot to #4, entering a right front stance facing #5, with a right ridgehand block. Execute a left four-fingered spearhand strike to the opponent’s throat.
  16. Step your right foot to #7, twisting and sinking into a right cat stance facing #3 with a left shutō guard.
  17. Execute a left front kick to #3. Upon re-chambering, slide your left foot to #4, entering a left front stance facing #3 with a left shutō guard.
  18. Immediately step your right foot to #3, with your toes pointing to #1, entering an extended right hook stance facing #3 with a left shutō guard.
  19. Twist into a right sleeping crane stance facing #1. Quickly look to #7, while shooting your arms 45° upward to #7.
  20. Quickly look to #3. Drive your left foot down to #3, entering a horse stance facing #1 with a groin-leveldouble punch to #3.
  21. Twistinto a left cat stance facing #7 with a right shutō guard.
  22. Execute a right front kick to #7. Upon re-chambering, slide your right foot to #6, entering a right front stance facing #7 with a right shutō guard.
  23. Step your left foot to #7, with your toes pointing to #1, entering an extended left hook stance facing #7 with a right shutō guard.
  24. Twist into a left sleeping crane stance facing #1. Quickly look to #3, while shooting your arms 45° upward to #3.
  25. Quickly look to #7. Drive your right foot down to #7, entering a horse stance facing #1 with a groin-level double punch to #7.
  26. Slide your right foot to #1, entering a left full-side-facing to #3, with a downward hammerfist strike to the opponent’s groin at #1. Your open left hand covers the right side of your face.
  27. Twist into a left cat stance facing #1 with a right downward backfist strike. Your open left hand is inside your right armpit, covering your exposed ribs.
  28. Step your right foot to #2, [[twisting into a right cat stance facing #5 with a left shutō block.
  29. Execute a left grasping block. Step your right foot to #5, entering a left full-side-facing to #7, with a downward hammerfist strike to the opponent’s groin at #5.
  30. Reset into a horse stance facing #7, with a left side shutō guard to #1.
  31. Slap the opponent’s hand down with your left hand. Reach across your chest to grab the opponent’s hand with your right hand.
  32. Step your right foot to #2, entering a left hook stance facing #1 with a left uraken uchi, pulling your right hand to your left armpit.
  33. Step your right foot back to #6, entering a left front stance facing #1 with a left downward-fist block.
  34. Immediately execute a double ridgehand block.
  35. Reach forward and grab the opponent by both lapels, pulling them down into a left knee kick.
  36. Step your right foot to #2, entering a right hook stance facing #1. Execute a left side kick to #3.
  37. Upon re-chambering, step your right foot to #8, entering a left hook stance facing #1 with a right supported chūdan uke.
  38. Step your right foot to #8, entering a right front stance facing #1 with a left downward-fist block.
  39. Step your left foot to #8, entering a right hook stance facing #1 with a left uraken-uchi, pulling you left hand into your right armpit.
  40. Step your right foot to #3, twisting and sinking into a right cat stance facing #7 with a left shutō guard.
  41. Invert your cat stance, stepping your right foot to #7, entering a right hook stance facing #6 with a right shutō block.
  42. Step your left foot to #7, entering a left front stance facing #6 with a left cross-body block. Execute a reverse punch.
  43. Twist and sink into a left cat stance facing #3 with a right shutō guard.
  44. Invert your cat stance, and step your left foot to #3, into a right hook stance facing #4 with a left shutō block.
  45. Step your right foot to #3, entering a right front stance facing #4 with a right cross-body block. Execute a reverse punch.
  46. Pull your left foot in, then immediately step your left foot out to #7, kneeling on your right knee, facing #6 with a downward X-block.
  47. Execute a right nami-ashi, stepping your right foot to #1, entering a kiba dachi facing #3.
  48. Execute a double reverse elbow strike.
  49. Execute a double hook punch.
  50. Step your right foot out to #6, entering a left hook stance facing #5 with a double hook punch.
  51. Step your right foot to #4, entering a right front stance facing #5 with a double chūdan-uke.
  52. Execute a right downward-fist block, and reverse punch.
  53. Look over your left shoulder. Pull your right foot in before stepping out to #5, entering a full-side-facing to #7, with a downward hammer-fist to #1.
  54. Pull your right foot up to an attention stance facing #1. Goshin-Jutsu bow.


Notes

Bunkai

Movement 1 mudra