“Bassai Dai” is translated as “To Storm a Fortress”. From an etymological point of view, this translation might be approximate, but it is definitely descriptive of the attitude the student should have when practicing the kata. The last character “Dai” means “large”, as there is a smaller version of the same kata in the Shotokan, referred to as “Bassai Sho”.
Known as “Passai” before reaching the shores of Japan, it is a very old kata believed to originate from the Tomari area of Okinawa, and largely influenced by Chinese connexions. It is one of the major katas in the Shotokan syllabus and is often a milestone for students, who have just completed the study of the “Heian“: an intimidating yet rewarding kata.