Bassai Dai translates as "To storm a fortress" and is practiced in many styles of karate. There are many variations of the original Passai, which was the original name for Bassai.
It is believed that there were two versions of Passai practiced on Okinawa.
Karate master, Sokon Matsumrua brought one Passai kata to Okinawa, from China and the other was taught to Okan Oyadomari on Okinawa, by a Chinese martial artist, who resided there.
The one we are referring to here, is the shotokan Bassai Dai, which many believe came from the Okan Oyadomari lineage.
When a karateka moves from 4th kyu to 3rd kyu, Bassai dai is usually the first kata taught. Many shotokan karateka use Bassai dai to test for all their brown belt examinations and indeed, the coveted black belt test.
Bassai dai can be explained by watching an experienced karateka execute the first move. A very strong move, driving forward off the left leg, with a knee attack and strike.
This karate kata also has some fast double block combinations. After the first move, there is a pause, then a 180 degree turn, with a double uchi uke. Two uchi uke blocks, first one with the left arm, second with the right arm, body is in the hanmi or side on position for the first block and shomen or square for the second.
Bassai dai is great for practicing fast turns and changes in direction. One combination in particular, greatly improves the dynamic hip rotation.
1.From the left tate shuto shizentai (left edge of the hand in natural stance), punch chokuzuki followed by a right arm uchi uke. Keep the body and hips sill and square, as you bend the right punching arm in preparation for the uchi uke.
2. You should be standing in natural stance with the right arm bent across the chest. Now, as you block, pivot strongly, 90 degrees to the left, into a very small front stance. To do this fast, the hips must be rotated strongly, this is a great exercise for working on dynamic hip rotation.
There are karate moves in Bassai Dai, that are not seen in any other shotokan karate kata. Yamazuki (U punch), the three consecutive low punches in kibadachi, the two sweeping blocks in a long front stance after the yamazuki. The slow grab and fumikomi (stamping kick), and the slow pull up, with both hands cupped, then rolling into two fists above the head.
Of all the shotokan karate kata, Bassai dai is probably the one that sums up shotokan karate!
Linden has been training and teaching karate for over 30 years and loves to share his knowledge and experiences from the karate dojo. Download a free bassai dai shotokan pdf and supplement your karate training with these free online videos, karate lessons for beginners.