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Paul Herbert 5th Dan
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Bassai Dai, translated to mean ‘To Storm A Fortress’ is an extremely strong kata, and is a very popular kata for competition. Reason being that it is flashy enough to interest spectators, but powerful enough to feel good to perform.

This kata, also called Passai in other styles, is an advancement from the Heian Series. The concept of this kata is to develop power intense and destructive enough to storm a fortress, and the opening technique has been interpreted by many as the breaking down of the fortress doors, signifying the fantastic levels of power produced by the karateka.

Despite such impressive displays of power, this kata is commonly regarded as a Shorin-ryu kata, since it employs many fast and sharp techniques, with particular attention being paid to the precision of the techniques.

This kata introduces many new techniques including the opening attack, which represents the attack to the fortress or castle’s doors. It also introduces yama-tsuki or mountain or U punch. One element that makes this kata particularly complex is the movement and shifting of the feet. At one point, while performing shuto-uke, you step forward, but immediately retreat. Here, the kata has taken a relatively simple technique found in most of the Heian katas, but placed it in a scenario where it is harder to perform. Therefore, this factor, along with many others, means that this kata is valuable in the transition from a beginner to intermediate. For this reason, the kata is studied at brown belt, for it has many lessons to teach the developing karateka.