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stevem's picture
Gojushiho Dai / Sho names trading places?


Something I've only recently come across, and apologies if this has been brought up in the past, but different styles which include the two Gojushiho katas seem to have both 'Dai' and 'Sho' trading places (what we perform as 'Sho' others perform as 'Dai' and vice versa). 

I'm just curious if anyone may know why? (There seem to be some knowledgeable folk on here)


ky0han's picture


I only know that to be the case with Shotokan. The JKA labels the version with the Kokutsu Dachi and the Nukite action as Sho and the one with Neko Ashi Dachi and the Ippon Nukite as Dai. Kanazawa and his organisation SKIF calls it the other way around.

Legend has it that the SKIF labeling was the original and that one of Nakayamas students messed up during a competition were he called the Sho and did the Dai (Kokutsu Dachi and Nukite) and to cover that up as Nakayama was asked (as the leading authority back then) he told the officials that his student was right. Since that occasion the labeling was different within the JKA. Due to the JKAs worldwide spreading the new (false?) labeling has been established as to be the norm.

I hope that helps.

Regards Holger

stevem's picture

Hi, I'd heard that story but thought it was just one of those daft tales which you hear about online... still, it's almost ridiculous enough to be true! Thanks :D

Dale Parker
Dale Parker's picture

In Shito-Ryu we only have Goju-Shiho.  I think it corresponds to the Shotokan Gojushiho Sho.

Nezumi's picture

Likewise, in Seito Matsumura-ryu (Orthodox Matsumura-family style) we only have one version.  We have long since abandoned the Japanese name of "gojushiho" in favor of the old Okinawan/Chinese name, "useishi".

JWT's picture

I can't add to Holger's story; it's the version with which I'm familiar.

If you haven't read it already, can I recommend Bill Burgar's Five Years: One Kata to you? It's a very underated book that focuses on Gojushiho.  When I spoke to Bill last year he hinted that the print run might end soon, so it's worth picking up copies now.

DaveB's picture

Hi all, hope everyone had a great Xmas. I can't add to the reasons behind the change, but I did some research into the two kata some time ago and what I found was that the kokutsudachi version (I think, could've been the other) was an independent kata (not a shotokanization) that seemed to descend from Chotoku Kyan. The same is true of Shotokan's bassai daisho, the one came from a different master who taught it to one of Itosu's students and Itosu liked it. I think it may have been given the dai label out of respect for the other master. Therefore the dai-sho labels are in no way indicators of importance or order, they are a purely subjective and meaningless means of differentiation of like items.

munteanu radu
munteanu radu's picture

Hello everybody

We (the SKIF practicioners) refer to Gojushiho Dai as the variant with Kokutsu Dachi and Sho the variant with Neko Ashi Dachi.

IMO G.Sho is the 'original' kata and the Dai is the 'new shotokan' kata. I think Soke Kanazawa has changed the names according to the principe that the Dai version containt more basics combinations and the Sho version requires more acrobatic skills. Either way, they are beautiful kata's to practice and the bunkai is also nice.

If i'm not mistaking, Kyan was an 'oponent' to Funakoshi and i don't think that the Shotokan masters have lerned from Kyan (or any of his students) this kata. The 'Kyan' styles and the Shorin styles don't have 2 versions of Gojushiho / Useishi.

I don't want to seem as a style-basher, just my 2c-thoughts.

Hope that was helpfull.

A Happy New Year to us all.