Forms of Five
by Neil Ohlenkamp
The Itsutsu no Kata was created by Jigoro Kano in 1887 as the highest form of kata. It demands a maturity in understanding Judo theory, and to have completely assimilated the principles contained in the other kata. The five symbolic movements represent the ethics of Judo. Inspired by the forms found in nature, he strived to come up with a way of expressing the forces of nature through Judo. The techniques were not given names by Jigoro Kano, so sometimes this kata is called the “unfinished kata”.
Jigoro Kano believed that there are five overriding principles common to Judo and all martial arts. He distilled all the teachings of Judo into the minimum number of principles needed to explain it. Since these principles are intended to be universal, they are equated with natural movements found in the universe, such as a wave in the ocean or a whirlpool. This kata applies the theoretical basis of attack and defense to natural phenomena.
The Itsutsu no Kata is an “inner kata” which dramatizes a man on his way towards the Truth, who meets the elements of nature and harmonizes with them.
1. Demonstrates the principle that rationalized, continuous attack will bring defeat, even against a strong power. This technique represents the impeccable strength of justice. A small power applied continuously, in a rational manner, can control a huge power.
2. Demonstrates the principle of using the energy of the opponent’s attack to defeat them, or victory through yielding.
3. Demonstrates the principle of the whirlpool, wherein the inner circle controls the outer circle. Two objects revolving in giant circles, inevitably they close in on each other, and then part without damage.
4. Demonstrates the power of the ocean’s tide. The tide will draw everything on the shore into the ocean, no matter how large, as a giant wave sweeping the beach clean of all debris and impurity.
5. Demonstrates the principle of yielding: when unlimited energies collide with each other, one yields to avoid destroying both. This technique shows that a clash between two strong forces can only result in mutual doom, but if you step aside and give way there will be peace and coexistance.
According to the book “Judo” by Jigoro Kano (page 66) published in 1961: “It was originally Kano Shihan’s intention to include a large number of techniques in this kata but it was never completed and it comprises only five movements, hence its designation (ITSUTSU means five). The five movements are known only by numbers. The first two movements have some connection with the kata of the Kito School of Jujutsu but the last three are original. It is an artistic and meaningful kata calling for natural movements (the movement of water, the movement of heavenly bodies, etc.) to be skilfully expressed by the human body.”
According to Noboru Saito, “Dr. Kano learned Itsutsu no Kata from Tenjin Shinyoryu Jujitsu School. This kata was taught as ‘Okuden’ (last skill to be taught) and by individual instruction by the master of the school. According to the record of Tenjin Shinyoryu Jijitsu School, the names of the techniques are as follows:
The way Kodokan performs this kata is slightly different from Tenjin Shinyoryu.