五 十 四 歩
Gojushiho (Dai or Sho?)
The Kata Gojushiho was developed by one of the great Okinawan karate masters Sokon "Bushi" Matsumura. The name was originally taken from Chinese Kungfu and was called "Uesheishi".
In Shotokan there are two versions of this kata. Just like Bassai and Kanku there is a Dai version (大) and a Sho version (小).
Whilst there was only one created at the time, two versions can be practiced and have only slight differences between them, and this is where the confusion starts to happen.
Confusion 1. Embusen
The floor pattern or lines of movement between Gojushiho Dai and Gojushiho Sho are almost identical to each other.
Confusion 2. Bunkai
The techniques used in the Gojushiho Sho kata are advanced techniques and is a kata that takes a lot of time to unravel its applications and its purpose. Where as Gojushiho Dai consists of many advanced open-handed techniques and teh attacks are forcus to teh attackers collar-bone.
Confusion 3. Block or throw?
The movements within the Gojushiho katas are like other martial arts styles such as Aikido as it involves a lot of grappling and throwing techniques. When we demonstrate bunkai in a kata, we feel that a Shuto Uke or knife hand block is a block, however, in this kata it can be used as a throwing technique taken from Aiki-Jujutsu. Which can confuse some students if they are learning the applications to this kata if they are not up to speed or have not practiced Nage Waza (Throwing techniques).
Confusion 4. Competition mix up.
With both versions being practiceed in shotokan karate when one of these kata is demonstrated at a tournament there can cause issues and there is a story that says that the JKA (Japan Karate Association) had to rename the Gojushiho kata due to an error at a tournament.
Also it is said that because of Hirokazu Kanazawa’s Senioroity he kept the original names in his organisation the Shotokan Karate Internally federation (SKIF). Kanazawa said on record that when he formed the SKIF he changed the names of the two kata because he felt that the “sho” version of the kata suited the smaller, more difficult movements of the kata better.
Kanazawa also mentioned that this kata was introduced into the JKA before its sibling, and this explained why the JKA decided to call it “dai” when they introduced the second Gojushiho into the syllabus. As we normally practice dai kata before the sho kata.