Fukyukata I was composed by Grandmaster Shoshin Nagamine, the founder of Matsubayashi-ryu. Nagamine thought that the Pinan Kaata were too difficult for beginners, so he added Fukyukata I and II to his system of karate. Fukyukata I develops eye focus and mental concentration. Because of the basic rhythm and nature of the movements, Fukyukata I lends itself to practicing together in a large group by doing the kata according to a single count for each movement. Unlike advanced forms, the rhythm and tempo of this form remains the same throughout the kata. Each time the practitioner turns or changes direction in the kata, he should mentally come to a complete stop, then move as quickly as possible to the next direction to confront the next imaginary opponent. Sharpening these mental skills considerably enhances reflexes and physical speed during the execution of techniques.
Fukyukata I also develops the practitioner’s ability to move from a high stance or natural stance to a low stance or forward stance and vice-versa. This is critical to the beginner’s understanding of distance. Karate techniques are optimized at specific distances. If too close to the opponent, punches and kicks can be jammed or blocked. If you are too far away, strikes lose power or fail to reach the target. Achieving the proper distance is a skill which requires constant practice. The front leg determines both the direction or angel the practitioner faces and the distance from the opponent. The rear leg determines the speed and power of the practitioner’s technique.
Fukyukata I also develops the practitioner’s ability to change direction and angels. To build this skill, the practitioner must learn to drop his weight in stance, concentrating all the tension on the rear leg. Then the practitioner must use this tension to push off in the new direction toward the opponent. The feeling in these movements should be like squeezing a spring tightly together and then releasing the energy all at once.
Fukyukata II was composed by Chojin Miyaji, the founder of Goju-ryu. Both Fukyukata I and II were created with the purpose of teaching karate-do to school children in Okinawa. The governor of Okinawa prefecture selected Grandmaster Nagamine and Grandmaster Miyagi for this important assignment, and both kata were created for this purpose in 1940. In the Goju-ryu system, the form is referred to as Gekisai I. Grandmaster Nagamine included Miyugi’s kata in his curriculum as a beginning level form.