At Zanshin, we use Bassai dai as one of the 5 testing kata from brown belt (3rd Kyu) to 1st Degree black belt (shodan).
Bassai Dai translates as “To storm a fortress” and is practiced in many styles of karate. There are many variations of the original Passai, which was the original name for Bassai.
Bassai Dai Video Tutorial
It is believed that there were two versions of Passai practiced on Okinawa.
Karate master, Sokon Matsumrua brought one Passai kata to Okinawa, from China and the other was taught to Okan Oyadomari on Okinawa, by a Chinese martial artist, who resided there.
The one we are referring to here, is the shotokan Bassai Dai, which many believe came from the Okan Oyadomari lineage.
In many shotokan karate dojo, Bassai dai is the first intermediate brown belt kata that a new brown belt karateka practices. Many shotokan karateka use Bassai dai to test for all their brown belt examinations and indeed, the coveted black belt test.
The first move in the kata, epitomizes the whole kata. A very strong move, driving forward off the left leg, with a knee attack and strike.
This karate kata also has some fast double block combinations. After the first move, there is a pause, then a 180 degree turn, with a double uchi uke. First block is with the lead left arm, so the body ends up in the hanmi (side on) position, the second block is a right uchi uke, finishing in the shomen (square) position.
Bassai dai is great for practicing fast turns and changes in direction. One combination in particular, greatly improves the dynamic hip rotation.
1.From the left tate shuto shizentai (left edge of the hand in natural stance), punch chokuzuki followed by a right arm uchi uke. Keep the body and hips sill and square, as you bend the right punching arm in preparation for the uchi uke.
2. You should be standing in natural stance with the right arm bent across the chest. Now, as you block, pivot strongly, 90 degrees to the left, into a very small front stance. To do this fast, the hips must be rotated strongly, this is a great exercise for working on dynamic hip rotation.
There are also some unusual karate moves in this kata. Yamazuki (U punch), the three consecutive low punches in kibadachi, the two sweeping blocks in a long front stance after the yamazuki. The slow grab and fumikomi (stamping kick), and the slow pull up, with both hands cupped, then rolling into two fists above the head.
This kata should be practiced thoroughly in your karate classes, because Bassai dai is shotokan karate!