Master Nakayama once recalled how Master Funakoshi took him to learn this kata from the Master Kenwa Mabuni, the founder of Shito-ryu. It was also with Master Mabuni that Master Nakayama learned the kata Gojushiho Sho.
Nijushiho, was apparently created by Anikichi Aragaki, and is a very popular kata. The kata name is translated to mean ‘twenty four steps’, and the simplicity and ambiguity of the name has been a topic of much debate. Kata such as Sochin have a translation that perfectly highlights the attitude and feeling of the kata. Nijushiho however, a kata of much personality has a name of limited symbolic significance. It is this fact that has challeneged many to learn more about the philosophy of the kata, for it is not blatantly clear in the kata title.
This kata teaches you to move and defend from many angles, and helps teach you co-ordination. Many use this kata as a tool to highlight the need for total concentration. If you take a student and force him to perform Heian Shodan in an angle that is different from the regular (for example, facing a corner of the room) they find it quite simple to finish the kata correctly in the accurate position. Nijushiho however does not use such basic and predictable angles, so to perform this kata accurately in a position that is irregular takes much concentration, since it is very easy to lose your co-ordination.
This kata wonderfully contains sudden contrasts between very slow, and an explosion of power. To achieve this, the karateka must fine-tune his ability to shift from relaxation to tension., which requires great control of the body and its muscles.