BASSAI DAI - To Penetrate the Fortress

Bassai Dai is the first of two kata in this series and it is one of the longest katas in the Shotokan syllabus. The original creator of this kata can not be confirmed, but it is often attributed to Master Matsumura. It is a good test of the student’s ability to make maximum use of hip rotation. This kata introduces the student to several new hand techniques including, chudan-tate-shuto-uchi-uke (middle level vertical inside outward sword hand block), chudan-choku-zuki (middle level straight punch), ryo-sho-tsukami-uke (two handed grasping block), gedan-sokuto-kekomi (lower level sword foot thrust kick), morote-jodan-uke (double rising block), and many other advanced techniques.

This kata is very well suited to those students who can bring out the power this kata portrays when done properly. The term "Dai" means "greater" and in this instance refers to the length and strength of this kata. Now for the first time, in addition to performing the kata, the student must also demonstrate appropriate bunkai (application of technique) for the various movements in this kata as a requirement for advancement. This kata contains 42 movements and should also take the student approximately 60 seconds to complete. The correct performance of this kata is required in order to advance in rank from 4th kyu (blue belt) to 3rd kyu (brown belt).

There are two kiai points in Bassai Dai. The first one occurs on the gedan-sokuto-kekomi (lower level sword foot thrust kick) which occurs on the last movement at the top of the embusen (line of attack). The second one occurs on the last movement of the kata chudan-shuto-zuki (middle level sword hand strike).

To return to a ready position after the last movement of the kata leave your right foot in place and withdraw your left foot so as to stand up once again facing forward in hachiji-dachi (natural stance). Finish with your hands in the Yoi (ready) position identical to the start of the kata. You must now formally end the kata. You do this by bringing your left foot half way in towards your right foot and your right foot half way in towards your left foot so that you are now standing with your feet together. At the same time as you bring your feet together also bring your hands to your sides so you are again standing in heisoku-dachi (attention stance). Now rei (bow). After bowing, step out with your left foot and then your right foot and once again stand in hachiji-dachi (natural stance) while at the same time bringing your hands from your sides and hold them in a ready position in front of you with your fists closed.