KANKU DAI - Looking to the Sky
This is the first of the two katas in the Kanku series. Kanku Dai is also one of the longest katas in the Shotokan syllabus and it is said to take its name from a Chinese General who came to Okinawa as an envoy. This kata gets its meaning from the first set of hand movements in the kata. This kata introduces several new techniques such as ryo-sho-hiji-tate-fuse (both hands and elbows taking cover) and a chudan-ni-mae-geri (double middle level kick). The term "Dai" means "greater" and refers to both the length and strength of this kata. Kanku Dai we are told was Master Gichin Funakoshi's favorite kata and the one he most liked seeing his students perform.
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 65 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 2nd kyu (brown belt) to 1st kyu (brown belt).
There are two kiai points in this Kanku Dai. The first one occurs on the chudan-nukite-zuki (middle level sword hand strike). The second one occurs on the second to last movement in the kata, chudan-ni-mae-geri (double middle level kick).
The return to a ready position after the last movement of the kata is more complex than any of the katas a student has learnt to date. Leave your right foot in place, pivoting on your right foot move your left foot around so that you are now facing forward in kiba dachi (rooted stance). As you land in the kiba dachi (rooted stance) block down and to the right with your right hand and as your right hand comes upward now also bring your hikite upward at the same time, then finish the movement by bringing both of your hands down in front of you to a ready position. At the same time that you bringing both of your hands down in front of you to a ready position stand up from the kiba dachi (rooted stance) so that you are now standing up once again facing forward in hachiji-dachi (natural stance). You must now formally end the kata. 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.