top of page

Kata of the Month

Episode 003 Female Final Kata 2012

Rika Usami of Japan. Gold Medal performance from Paris World Championship 2012.

Rika Usami of Japan. Gold Medal performance from Paris World Championship 2012.  Rika Usami is a Japanese karateka. She won a Gold medal in individual kata at the 2012 World Karate Championships after previously winning Bronze at the 2010 Championships. She also won Gold in the same category at the 2010 Asian Games. As of March 2021, Usami is coaching the karate team at Kokushikan University.


Usami was born on February 20, 1986, in Tokyo, Japan. She had said in an interview that she started karate when she was 10 years old by joining a Goju-ryu-style dojo located near her family's house in Tokyo, after seeing a female fighter on television. Her older brother had been practicing karate and let Usami wear his karate gi on occasions, so that helped her a lot when she decided to eventually start practicing karate herself.


Usami's first karate tournament was when she was a green belt at 12 years old in elementary school. Usami did not participate in big tournaments until age 15 and won her first tournament at 17 years old at the All Japan High School Karatedo Championships


Rika Usami performed Chatanyara Kushanku kata at the Paris World Championship 2012. Chatanyara Kushanku origins can be traced to Chatan Yara. Chatan Yara, 1668–1756), also known as Ueekata, and Yomitan Yara, is credited with being one of the first to disseminate martial arts (te) throughout Okinawa Island. Yara is most noted for teaching Takahara Peichin who would later become the sensei (mentor) of Sakugawa Kanga (1733-1815), the father of Okinawan karate. Depending on Sakugawa's birth date, Yara may have been his teacher also (based on the kata he taught). Yara was from Chatan Village, on Okinawa Island.


The popular Shito-Ryu kata named 'Chatanyara Kushanku', the kata was taught to Teruo Hayashi by Nagamine Shoshin. Chatanyara kushanku is one of many variants of the popular 'Kushanku' family of katas taught on Okinawa.


According to most accounts, Yara's parents sent him to China at the age of 12 under the advice of his uncle to study the Chinese language and the martial arts. It was here he mastered the use of the bō and sai under the guidance of his teacher Wong Chung-Yoh.


Shortly after returning to Shuri around 1700, Yara came to the assistance of a woman being harassed by a samurai. First avoiding the samurai's sword attacks, Yara acquired an eku (oar) from a nearby boat and successfully disarmed and killed the samurai. Soon after this rescue, he was recruited by local officials to teach his martial art to the local community for the purpose of self-defense.


Chatan Yara is credited as the originator of the popular (Chatan) Yara Kusanku, Chatan Yara no Sai (iron truncheon), and Chatan Yara no Kon (6 foot staff) kata that are commonly found in Okinawan martial arts. His son, known as Yara Guwa ("Little Yara") is the developer of the well-known Yara Guwa no Tonfa kata.

Source Links:


bottom of page