Introduction
Bassai-Dai is required for your red and brown belts. As ever, you are not expected to do it perfectly, but when you are going for your brown, there is little margin for error.

It's one of the longer kata that you will have to learn, comprising of 38 steps. The English translation of its name means "Destroying the Fortress", but some people contest this interpretation.

Although the kata generally consists of moves that you should be familiar with by now, many of them are deceptively difficult to perform well in this kata because they are executed in ways that you don't usually practice. As the adage goes, "The devil is in the detail." You'll need to pay close attention to finer points such as wrist turns and your centre of gravity. As ever, stances are all-important, but in this kata you will also have to concentrate very hard on your hip movement, as this is one of the key elements that makes this kata tricky, which may explain why some karate styles reserve bassai dai for black belts. More than any other kata up to this point, Bassai-Dai has differents speeds and rhythms throughout its duration, and correctly interpreting these changing tempos will greatly enhance the power, flow and presentation of your kata.

Stances
There are six stances in Bassai-Dai. You'll already be familiar with all of them except the Hooked stance, which is a leg-crossed modification of reverse nekoashi dachi. Here's are the stances you'll be required to use.

Heiko dachi Parallel stance
Heisoku dachi Feet together stance
Kake dachi Hooked stance
Kokutso dachi back stance
Kiba dachi Horse-riding stance
Zenkutsu dachi forward stance

Strikes
There are a number of strikes in Bassai-Dai, some of which may be interpreted as more than one type of move. Some of these are simply regular punches performed in a specific way. Think carefully about your shoulders as you perform them. They are:

Gyaku tsuki Reverse punch
Choku tsuki Straight punch
Mawashi empi Round elbow strike
Morote tetsui uchi Double hammer-fist strike
Shita tsuki Short punch
Oi tsuki Lunge punch

Blocks
There are nine blocks in Bassai-Dai and I tend to think of it as "the blocking kata". You should certainly know six of the blocks very well by now, but there three which are entirely new. However, none of them is particularly complicated, and with care you should be able to perform them well.

Kake uke Hooking block
Gedan barai Downward block
Gedan uke Lower-level block
Yoko Gedan Barai Side lower-level sweeping block
Morote jodan age uke Double rising upper-level block
Shuto uke Knife-hand block
Soto uke Outside block
Uchi uke Inside block

Kicks
There are only two kicks for you to think about, but both are tricky. The side kick is not special in itself, but because it's performed whilst simultaneously pulling the arm in at the end of a re-enforced kake uke, you need to prepare mentally in readiness. The crescent kicks benefit from good leg flexibility and plenty of practice.

Mikazuki geri Crescent kick
Yoko kanzetsu geri Knee-joint side kick

Sequence:- By the numbers

Start bassai dai footwork chart start Start in Heiko dachi facing north. Move your left leg in towards your right and bring your heels together. With your feet at right angles to each other, place your hands by your sides. Bow. Moving your left leg, return to Heiko dachi.
1
Ichi
bassai dai footwork chart step 1 Move your left foot beside your right into feet-together stance, with toes and heels touching, and knees slightly bent. Look straight ahead. Raise your hands in front of you at chin level and forming a "C" shape with your left hand, wrap it around your right hand, which should be closed in a fist. Your arms should form a right angle to each other.
2
Ni
bassai dai footwork chart step 2 Still looking north, turn your body 45 degrees anti-clockwise to face northwest, pivoting on your left foot. As you turn, raise your right foot to knee level, angling the blade of your foot downwards in a side kick position. Your knee should also be facing northwest. As you turn, move your fists (still in a right-angle shape) about 6-9 inches away from your head on your left-hand side, with your left hand still wrapped around your right fists. Your arms should be at right-angles to the front.
3
San
bassai dai footwork chart step 3 Step forwards two shoulder-widths onto your right foot, placing your right foot directly north of your left one. Immediately bring your left foot up behind your right foot and to the right of it, bending both knees into Kake dachi. As you step forward, perform an inside Kake uke with your right hand, using your left hand to reinforced it. Your left hand should end up with a flat palm resting against the left side of your right forearm. Your hips and shoulders should end up facing forwards.
4
Shi
bassai dai footwork chart step 4 Step your left foot backwards two shoulder-widths and one shoulder-width to the east. Pivot on both feet to end up in long Zenkutsu dachi facing south. Allow you head to turn naturally with your body until you're looking south. As you turn, perform an inside Kake uke with your left arm, ensuring that you set your hips to 45 degrees facing southwest. Follow up with an inside Kake uke with your right hand. This time you should ensure that your hips are turned as far to the southeast as your body will allow.
5
Go
bassai dai footwork chart step 5 Move your right foot two shoulder-widths to the east. Pivot on both feet to end up in long Zenkutsu dachi facing north. Allow your head to turn naturally with your body until you're looking north. As you turn, perform an outside Kake uke with your left arm, setting your hips as far to the northeast as your body will allow. Follow this with an inside Kake uke using your right arm, ensuring that you set your hips to 45 degrees facing northwest.
6
Roku
bassai dai footwork chart step 6 Look east. Pivot on your left foot, to face east. As you turn, bring your right foot to stand beside it in feet-together stance. Perform a downward sweeping block with your right hand.
7
Shichi
bassai dai footwork chart step 7 Raise your right arm shoulder-high in readiness for an outside Kake uke. Step forward with your right foot into long Zenkutsu dachi. As you move, perform an outside Kake uke with your right arm, ensuring that you set your hips to 45 degrees facing northeast. Follow up with an inside Kake uke using your left arm, setting your hips as far to the southeast as your body will allow.
8
Hachi
bassai dai footwork chart step 8 Look north. Turn north and bring your left foot towards your right foot in to stand in Heiko dachi. Bring your right fist towards your right hip, with your palm facing upwards. At the same time, retract your right arm to your waist, with the fist extending just past your body, palm facing upwards. Place your left arm across your body with your left fist resting on top of your right one. Your left palm should be facing towards your body. Your right arm should be completely parallel to your body (running east-to-west) and your wrist should not be bent at all, so ensure that your left fist is sufficiently forwards to allow it.
9
Ku
bassai dai footwork chart step 9 Open your left fist into a flat hand. Rotate your left forearm 90 degrees towards you and bend your left wrist up so that your palm is facing east with your forearm horizontal. Extend the hand forwards (north) as far as it will go, then pivot your forearm at the elbow so that your palm faces north and move the hand to the left (west) until your arm is extended straight out from the shoulder. The entire movement should be done with tension to a slow count of 5. At the same time retract your right fist.
10
Ju
bassai dai footwork chart step 10 Perform a mid-level punch with your right arm. Immediately follow with an inside Kake uke using the same arm. Do not retract the arm fully between moves. To strengthen the block, as you do it, turn your hips and feet to 45 degrees facing northwest.
1
Ichi
bassai dai footwork chart step 11 Perform a mid-level punch with your left arm, straightening your hips as you do so. Immediately follow with an inside Kake uke using the same arm. Do not retract the arm fully between moves. As you perform the block, turn your hips and feet to 45 degrees facing northeast.
2
Ni
bassai dai footwork chart step 12 Step forwards with your right foot into back leaning stance, with your hips set to 45 degrees facing northwest. At the same time, perform a Shuto uke to the north with your right hand. As you do so, retract your left arm horizontally across your body touching the bottom of your sternum and facing northeast. Your hand should be just past the middle of your body, palm open and facing upwards.
3
San
bassai dai footwork chart step 13 Step forwards with your left foot into back leaning stance, with your hips set to 45 degrees facing northeast. At the same time, perform a Shuto uke to the north with your left hand. As you do so, retract your right arm horizontally across your body touching the bottom of your sternum and facing northwest. Your hand should be just past the middle of your body, palm open and facing upwards.
4
Shi
bassai dai footwork chart step 14 Step forwards with your right foot into back leaning stance, with your hips set to 45 degrees facing northwest. At the same time, perform a Shuto uke to the north with your right hand. As you do so, retract your left arm horizontally across your body touching the bottom of your sternum and facing northeast. Your hand should be just past the middle of your body, palm open and facing upwards.
5
Go
bassai dai footwork chart step 15 Step backwards with your right foot into back leaning stance, with your hips set to 45 degrees facing northeast. At the same time, perform a Shuto uke to the north with your left hand. As you do so, retract your right arm horizontally across your body touching the bottom of your sternum and facing northwest. Your hand should be just past the middle of your body, palm open and facing upwards.
6
Roku
bassai dai footwork chart step 16 Extend your right arm out in front of you and slightly to the right. It should be at about chest-level with the hand open, palm facing west. As you do so, step across with your left foot into long forwards stance facing north. Sweep your right palm from right to left in front of you until it's in front of your left shoulder. Move your right forearm in a clockwise semi-circle performing a Kake uke with your palm facing towards you. When your hand is in front of your right shoulder, rotate your forearm so that your palm is facing away from you. Use your left hand to grip your right wrist and lower your right hand about 6 inches, symbolising the application of a wrist lock.
7
Shichi
bassai dai footwork chart step 17 Pivot on your left foot to face west, but keep looking north. As you do so, raise your right foot to your left knee in preparation for a side kick. With your right knee facing north-west. Perform a knee-level side kick to the north, kiaing as you do so. At the same time, pull your right hand in to your right waist, maintaining your grip on your right wrist with your left hand. Return your right foot to your left knee. Look south. Drop your right foot two shoulder-widths north of your left foot to end up in back leaning stance facing south. At the same time, perform a Shuto uke to the south with your left hand. As you do so, retract your right arm horizontally across your body touching the bottom of your sternum and facing southeast. Your hand should be just past the middle of your body, palm open and facing upwards.
8
Hachi
bassai dai footwork chart step 18 Step forwards with your right foot into back leaning stance, with your hips set to 45 degrees facing southeast. At the same time, perform a Shuto uke to the south with your right hand. As you do so, retract your left arm horizontally across your body touching the bottom of your sternum and facing southwest. Your hand should be just past the middle of your body, palm open and facing upwards.
9
Ku
bassai dai footwork chart step 19 Bring your right foot back to stand beside your left in feet-together stance. Retract both fists so that they're beside your waist, palms up.
10
Ju
bassai dai footwork chart step 20 Raise both arms in a double rising head-level block by moving both fists so that that they meet in front of your face with your palms facing towards you. Finish with both arms raised, wrists facing outwards, arms forming a right angle.
1
Ichi
bassai dai footwork chart step 21 Step forwards with your right foot into long Zenkutsu dachi facing south. As you do so, perform a Morote tetsui uchi in front of you by moving both fists downwards in outward semi-circles, bringing them together at waist-level in front of you, striking to the middle with the bottom edge of each fist and stopping a head-distance apart. Your palms should be facing up, fists clenched.
2
Ni
bassai dai footwork chart step 22 Shuffle quickly forwards about half a shoulder-width by moving the front foot then the back foot. At the same time, perform a Oi tsuki by extending the right fist and retracting the left fist.
3
San
bassai dai footwork chart step 23 Move your left foot west two shoulder-widths and look backwards (north) over your left shoulder. Pivot anti-clockwise 180 degrees so that you’re facing north in long Zenkutsu dachi. As you turn, perform a groin-level palm-heel strike to the north. Your hand should be open, with your palm uppermost. At the same time, move your left hand up beside your right ear in a guard with the palm open and facing your head.
4
Shi
bassai dai footwork chart step 24 All of the moves in this stage are performed slowly with tension. Still looking north, turn to the east. Move your left foot back beside your right into feet-together stance. At the same time, pull your right arm back and up until your upper arm is at right angle to your body pointing south. Your forearm should be at a right angle to your upper arm, pointing upwards, with your fist closed and the palm facing your head. As you raise your right arm, lower your left arm in a downward block. The arm should end up by your left side angled away from your body, with the fist clenched and the palm facing towards you.
5
Go
bassai dai footwork chart step 25 Pivoting on your left foot, rotate your body 90 degrees anti-clockwise and swing your right foot up in a mid-level crescent block to the north. Lower your right foot to the ground two shoulder-widths north of your left, setting yourself into Kiba dachi facing west. As you set your stance, still looking north, retract your left hand and perform a semi-circular downwards (GKR) block with your right hand to your right side. Your right arm should end up at your right side, a foot or so away from your thigh, fist clenched and the back of your hand facing northwest. Your left arm should be retracted.
6
Roku
bassai dai footwork chart step 26 Look left. As you do so, cross both arms across your chest, with your right arm above your left. Both hands should be open in knife-hand shape. Your left hand should be tight to your right armpit, palm facing your body, providing a block. Your right hand should be level with your left shoulder. Slowly with tension, extend your left hand to the left at shoulder-height in a back-handed block until the arm is completely straight and pointing to the south, palm still open. At the same time, retract your right hand to your right side at waist level and clench it into a fist with the palm facing upwards.
7
Shichi
bassai dai footwork chart step 27 Pivoting on your left foot, swing your right foot up in a Mikazuki geri to the south, striking your extended left hand with your foot. Lower your right foot to the ground two shoulder-widths south of your left, setting yourself into Kiba dachi facing east. As you rotate into stance, your left arm bends at the elbow with the upper arm extended out in front of you, and your forearm parallel to your body. As you complete the second half of your 180 degree turn, strike your left palm with a Mawashi empi using your right arm. Your right fist moves into the crook of the left elbow. Your open left palm should be facing your body and resting along the upper part of your right forearm, palm against your right elbow. You should be looking straight ahead (east).
8
Hachi
bassai dai footwork chart step 28 Drop your right arm in a downward sweeping block to your front. Your arm should end up in front of you, extending straight from your shoulder at an angle of about 45 degrees. Your fist should remain clenched, with your palm towards your body. At the same time, clench your left fist and raise it to the top of your right bicep with the bottom (hammer) side of your fist against your arm. After a brief pause, repeat the combination with the opposite arms, performing a downwards sweeping block with your left arm, and raising your right arm to your left bicep. Immediately repeat the combination one more time using the original arms, blocking with your right arm and bring your left fist to your right bicep. Note the 90 degree wrist turns, both during the blocks, and as the other arms are raised to the biceps. Also, note that the arm performing the block, passes downwards on the inside of the arm rising to the shoulder so that your hands don't get tangled up!
9
Ku
bassai dai footwork chart step 29 Look south. Pivoting on your left foot, turn to the south and bring your right foot back to join the left in feet-together stance. At the same time, retract your left arm to your waist, with the fist extending just past your body, palm facing upwards. Place your right arm across your body with your right fist resting on top of your left fist. Your right palm should be facing towards your body. Your right arm should be completely parallel to your body (running east-to-west) and your wrist should not be bent at all, so ensure that your left fist is sufficiently forwards to allow it.
10
Ju
bassai dai footwork chart step 30 Step your right foot forwards two shoulder-widths into long Zenkutsu dachi. At the same time, deliver a double punch, consisting of a head-level Gyaku tsuki with your left hand, and a Shita tsuki with your right hand. The left punch does not extend all the way out. Both fists should be the same distance from your body, with the Gyaku tsuki directly above the Shita tsuki. After the strike, return to feet-together stance. At the same time, retract your right arm to your waist, with the fist extending just past your body, palm facing upwards. Place your left arm across your body with your left fist resting on top of your right fist.
1
Ichi
bassai dai footwork chart step 31 Perform a Mikazuki geri to the south with your left foot. Return your left foot to your right knee, then place it two shoulder-widths forwards into long Zenkutsu dachi. At the same time, deliver a double punch, consisting of a head-level Gyaku tsuki with your right hand, and a Shita tsuki with your left hand. The right punch does not extend all the way out. Both fists should be the same distance from your body, with the Gyaku tsuki directly above the Shita tsuki. After the strike, return to feet-together stance. At the same time, retract your left arm to your waist, with the fist extending just past your body, palm facing upwards. Place your right arm across your body with your right fist resting on top of your left fist.
2
Ni
bassai dai footwork chart step 32 Perform a Mikazuki geri to the south with your right foot. Return your right foot to your left knee, then place it two shoulder-widths forwards into long Zenkutsu dachi. At the same time, deliver a double punch, consisting of a head-level Gyaku tsuki with your left hand, and a Shita tsuki with your right hand. The left punch does not extend all the way out. Both fists should be the same distance from your body, with the Gyaku tsuki directly above the Shita tsuki. Do not return to feet-together stance after the strike.
3
San
bassai dai footwork chart step 33 Look over your left shoulder. Pivoting on your right foot, move your left foot to a position two shoulder-widths to the west of your right foot, rotating your body anti-clockwise as necessary to do so. When your left foot is in position, rotate your body until your hips are facing west. Your legs and weight should be set for long Zenkutsu dachi, although your foot position is halfway between long Zenkutsu dachi and back leaning stance, with your right foot facing north and your left foot facing northwest, but both in line with each other east-to-west. As you rotate, drop your right arm and push it across your lower body to the left in a groin-level sweeping block. Now rotate your right forearm upwards to perform an inside Kake uke to the north. As you do so, turn your hips 45 degrees to the northwest to enhance the block’s power. Your left arm retracts to your waist as you perform the groin-level sweeping block and it remains there during the inside Kake uke.
4
Shi
bassai dai footwork chart step 34 Still looking north, pivot on both feet and rotate your body until your hips are facing east. Your legs and weight should be set for long Zenkutsu dachi, although your foot position is halfway between long Zenkutsu dachi and back leaning stance, with your left foot facing north and your right facing northeast, but both in line with each other east-to-west. As you rotate, extend your left arm downwards and push it across your lower body to the right in a groin-level sweeping block, until your wrist is approximately level with your left knee. At the same time, retract your right fist to your waist. Now rotate your left forearm upwards, bending at the elbow to perform an inside Kake uke to the north. As you do so, turn your hips 45 degrees to the northeast to enhance the block's power.
5
Go
bassai dai footwork chart step 35 Look to the northeast. Bring your left foot up to your right heel, then immediately move your right foot two shoulder-widths northeast to form back leaning stance. At the same time, perform a Shuto uke to the northeast with your right hand. As you do so, retract your left arm horizontally across your body touching the bottom of your sternum and facing east. Your hand should be just past the middle of your body, palm open and facing upwards. Your hips should be facing north.
6
Roku
bassai dai footwork chart step 36 Look northwest. Bring your right foot back to your left. Rotate your upper body 90 degrees clockwise whilst retaining your arm position relative to your body, so that you end up with your Shuto uke extending to the southeast. As you rotate, extend your right foot two shoulder-widths southeast to form back leaning stance. Your body should now be facing southeast; your hips should be facing east and you should be looking northwest!
7
Shichi
bassai dai footwork chart step 37 Move your right foot up behind the heel of your left foot, then immediately extend your left foot a further two shoulder-widths northwest to form back leaning stance. At the same time, perform a Shuto uke to the northwest with your left hand. As you do so, retract your right arm horizontally across your body touching the bottom of your sternum and facing west. Your hand should be just past the middle of your body, palm open and facing upwards. Your hips should be facing north.
8
Hachi
bassai dai footwork chart step 38 Look north. Move your left foot beside your right in feet-together stance. Look straight ahead. Raise your hands in front of you and forming a "C" shape with your left hand, wrap it around your right hand, which should be closed in a fist. Your hands should be at chin level and your arms should form a right angle to each other. Drop your hands to your sides, with palms flat against the seams of your gi. Bow.
End bassai dai footwork chart end With your hands still open, cross them at the wrists in front of your groin, left hand furthest from your body. Tense your stomach and exhale deeply. As you do so, uncross your hands and return to Heiko dachi, moving your hands to the correct position as you do so.

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