What is a Kata?

kata kanji
The Japanese kanji for "kata" literally means to make a pattern in the earth. Thus the practice of kata is the act of repeating a pattern of movements so that they become ingrained—second nature to you. The Korean translation of that same kanji is "hyung." Of great importance to the serious practitioner of the martial arts is the "martial" application of each movement in a kata. This is known as "bunkai" in Japanese. The AKaTo makes a concentrated effort to teach its students the practical application of their forms. See Mr. Yates' book, The Complete Guide to American Karate and Tae Kwon Do, as well as other books listed on the resources page.

Forms for Nam Seo Kwan Tae Kwon Do

The following kata (Japanese for forms), of the “Chang Hon” (Blue Cottage) set were originally learned by Mr. Yates from Jhoon Rhee in 1967. They had been devised by General Hong Hi Choi and are still used by the late Choi’s organization (the International TKD Federation) as well as many other schools whose roots extend back into the 1960s. Although these patterns are known as the “first” Korean forms they are based heavily on the movements of Japanese and Okinawan Karate. Mr. Yates still teaches the forms with this Japanese slant and, in fact, as continued to modify them with an eye toward “bunkai” or practical application of movement. (FYI, the modern Olympic/South Korean systems utilize a different set of training patterns called Palgye.)

For a complete look at these patterns see the books and videos available from the AKaTo

To see the entire Nam Seo Kwan curriculum download this PDF.

CHUNJI: Literal meaning is “Heaven and Earth” which symbolizes the creation of the world. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth,” Genesis 1:1. A fitting name for the first pattern.

TAN GUN: The second form is named after the legendary founder of Korea, approximately 2334 B.C.

TO SAN: The pseudonym of the Korean patriot and educator, Ahn Ch’ang Ho, who was martyred in 1938. He was one of the men who set up Korea's government-in-exile in 1919.

WON HYO: The monk who introduced Buddhism to the Silla Dynasty in the year 686 A.D.

YUL GOOK: The pseudonym of the philosopher and scholar, Yi I (1536-1584), who was nicknamed the “Confucius of Korea.” The diagram of this form represents “scholar.”

CHUNG GWEN: Named after the patriot Ahn-Chung-Gwen, who assassinated Hiro-Bumi Ito, the first Japanese governor-general of Korea. The 32 movements in the form represent the age at which Mr. Ahn was executed in prison in 1910.

TI GYE: The pen name of the noted scholar Yi Hwang, an authority on neo-Confucianism.

HWA RANG: Named after the Hwa-Rang youth movement which originated in the Silla Dynasty about 1350 years ago and became one of the driving forces for the unification of the three kingdoms of Korea (Koguryo, Paekje, and Silla). The 29 movements represent the Korean 29th Infantry Division, where Tae Kwon Do developed into maturity.

CHUG MU: The given name of the great admiral Yi-Sun-Sin of the Yi Dynasty who was reputed to have invented the first armored battleship in 1592. The name of the ship was “Turtleshell.” The left-handed attack ending this pattern symbolizes his death in battle before he could show his complete loyalty to the king.

KWANG GYE: The name of the famous Kwang Gye T’o Wang, 19th king of the Korguryo Dynasty who regained the lost territories, including the greater part of Manchuria. The 39 steps indicate his reign of 39 years.

PO UN: Pseudonym of a loyal subject, Chong Mong Chu (1400 AD) whose poem, “I will not serve a second master though I be crucified a hundred times,” is well-known in Korea.

KAE BECK: Named after a great general in the Baek Je Dynasty (660 AD). The straight-line pattern represents his severe and strict military discipline.

CHOI YOUNG: The name of the last Premier and Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces during the 14th century Koguryo Dynasty. General Choi Young was known for his loyalty, patriotism, and humility.

The following forms were originally practiced in both Japanese and Okinawan Karate schools in the 19th century. They were adapted by the Tang Soo Do schools of Korea and brought to the United States by Jhoon Rhee in the 1950s. Mr. Steen left these three advanced patterns in his curriculum when the “new” TKD forms were introduced in the late 1960s. Nam Seo Kwan continues to use these patterns for higher ranks.

CHULGI: The name means “iron horse.” It is also known by the Japanese terms “Tekki” and “Naifanchi.”

BASAI: Another Japanese/Okinawan form meaning “to break through the fortress.” Versions of this kata are seen in several Karate systems.

SIP SOO: A Japanese/Okinawan form meaning “ten hands.”

The following two patterns were designed by Mr. Yates to “bookend” the Nam Seo Kwan system. One appears at the beginning of the curriculum and one at the end.

NINE STEP BLOCK: The first pattern (ahop palchek marki) learned by new white belts incorporates the four directional blocking techniques.

NAM SEO HYUNG : This 43-step “Pattern of the Southwest” combines hard and soft movements. It is the highest form in the Nam Seo Kwan system and is required for Fourth Degree Black Belt.

See the history of Nam Seo Kwan.

Forms for the AKaTo Kobudo Curriculum

Bo Ichi: “Bo number one”
An eight directional pattern learned for green belt.

Tonfa Ichi: “Tonfa number one”
An eight directional pattern learned for green belt.

Mizu Nagare: “Flowing water”
An intermediate level form using the short swords or sai and learned for brown belt. Devised by Mr. Yates in 1973.

Nunchaku Niseishi: “Nunchaku twenty four”
A twenty four step intermediate level pattern with the nunchaku learned for brown belt. Devised by Mr. Yates in 1980.

Happo Jo Aiki: “Blending eight directional Jo”
An intermediate level pattern with the four foot staff or jo and learned for the first degree black belt rank. Come sfrom the Sedokan Aikido school.

Sedokan Kengi: A wooden sword (bokken) kata also from the Sedokan Aikido school.

Shushi No Kon Sho: One of several known variations of the Shushi kata, done with the bo.

Forms for the Dragon School of Tae Kwon Do

Basic Forms: 1 through 4
China Form
Jung Yee: Justice
Advanced Forms: 1 through 5
Ninche: 1 through 3
See more curriculum of the Dragon School

Forms for Renbudo Karate-Do

Heian: 1 through 5 (meaning "peaceful")
Tekki: 1 through 3 (meaning "iron horse")
Basai ("breaking through the fortress)
Jitte ("Ten hands")