Gankaku Gankaku (Crane on a Rock) is a very old kata that was originally named Chinto (Fighter/Battle to the East), until it was changed by Gichin Funakoshi. In this case the change was brought about not only to make it more acceptable to the Japanese, but to remove any connotations of war the name might have as a result of Master Funakoshi’s pacifist beliefs. He also made modifications to the kata, changing its pattern to make it more linear like most of the other Shotokan kata.

Legend has it that it was named after a Chinese sailor called Chinto (or sometimes called Annan), who was ship wrecked off the cost of Okinawa. Chinto stole local crops until the King sent his bodyguard, karate master Sokon Matsumura, to defeat him. Matsumura, was an early exponent of the Shuri-te style and possibly the best martial artist of his day in Okinawa but when he fought against Chinto, the two were evenly matched and the ensuing fight was drawn. This prompted the karate master to invite the Chinaman to give him some lessons in his art and led to further development in what would become modern day karate.

Gankaku is considered an advanced Shotokan kata but is usually studied at the first degree black belt level. It focuses a lot on balance, poise and grace with its dynamic and beautiful movements, and is well-suited to an athletic practitioner.

Kankaku in competition