Five Block Kata

Taught to Kyoshi Baker by Sensei Teruo Chinen.

Five Block Kata is a Novice-level drill that develops hip rotation during transitions between Zenkutsu Dachi and Shiko Dachi, allowing the student to generate power. It also helps the student to move from one block to another across target levels (high, middle, and low).

Minimum Rank – Jukyu (Purple Belt) & Above

Prerequisite Knowledge – Students must already know…

  • Kihon (Basics)
    • Age Uke (Upper Block)
    • Yoko Uke (Middle Block)
    • Gedan Barai (Downward Striking Block)
    • Seiken Tsuki (Front Punch)
  • Dachi Waza (Stepping Technique)
    • Zenkutsu Dachi
    • Shiko Dachi

Instructional Sequence

  • Start the drill as you would a kata: bow in, have them repeat “Five Block Kata”, and go to Yoi Dachi (Ready Stance). They do not need to meditate (no “Moksu”). For Novice students, this may be the first time they go through this procedure, so it is worth mentioning that this is how they will start higher-level forms such as Shipponido, Tae Kiyoko, and Kata.
  • Teach one piece at a time, completing about five repetitions on each side before moving on. The sequence of instruction is as follows:
    • Zenkutsu Dachi, Upper Block (5 reps on right side, followed by 5 reps on left side)
    • Add pivot to Shiko Dachi, Inward Block (1st half of Middle Block)
    • Add pivot to Zenkutsu Dachi, Downward Block (2nd half of Downward Block)
    • Add pivot to Shiko Dachi, Low Inward Block (1st half of Downward Block)
    • Add pivot to Zenkutsu Dachi, Outward Block (2nd half of Middle Block)
    • Add Punch immediately following last block. (Kiai will be here on Speed & Power set.)
  • Once the basic form has been taught, you can do one set in which the student alternates sides on each count. Return to Yoi Dachi after each count.
  • Finally, complete the drill by having the student step forward and backwards on successive counts. Kiai will be on the punch, typically on the last count only, but you may choose to have them kiai on each punch depending on the energy on the floor.

The Chant

  • Complete Sequence: “High, Middle, Low, Low, Middle, Punch.”
    • The “Punch” becomes optional as it blends with the last block. At higher speeds, you may opt to change it to “Kiai!”

Talking Points

  • When the student pivots from one stance to another, two key details…
    • The eyes stay to the front during the entire drill. Most students will tend to look to the side when pivoting to Shiko Dachi.
    • The front foot remains straight when transitioning between Zenkutsu Dachi & Shiko Dachi. Some students will tend to pivot on both feet. Others will step out into Zenkutsu Dachi with the front foot turned in (as in Sanchin Dachi or Seisan Dachi).
  • At some point during instruction (usually after adding the second or third block), stop and ask the students, “What is the name of this drill?” Point out that the drill is called “Five Block Kata” and make note of how many blocks into it they have gotten. This will give them a sense of their progress and how much is left.
  • When adding the punch, I often make the comparison to adding punctuation at the end of a sentence. During the learning stage, I will tell them to put a period at the end of their sentence/drill. When they do the drill at Speed & Power, the period becomes an exclamation point. (If their punch suggests a question mark to you, they are probably struggling with what to do and need some reassurance!)
  • The major benefit of this drill is the development of hip rotation during stance change and to support hand technique. However, most students will need to get the form down before they can focus on the hips. As a rule of thumb – students who can do the drill at a reasonable level of Speed & Power are ready to focus on the hips. You can certainly mention hip rotation before that point, but don’t force it.

Good Luck & Have Fun!

VIDEO NOTE: I missed the last punch when I went through the sequence with stepping forward and back! This was my mistake – each sequence should end in a reverse punch.

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