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But why 54?

A very brief and simple answer is 54 times 2 equals 108. 108 is a number associated with purity and perfection in the orient. On New Year's Eve the gongs of the temple are rung 108 times. Each time is to cleanse the old year of one of its defilements and to celebrate the New Year's clean and fresh start. One hundred eight is a symbol of perfection, totality, and circularity. (Please note that Yang style Tai Chi as we practice it has 108 movements for the same reason.)

54 is half of 108. Traditionally there are 54 shrines in a Buddhist temple. Each shrine has a significance. Each kata in a 54 kata system also has a significance. The martial artist views his kata system with the same reverence that a Buddhist views his shrines.Thus it only make  sense to have 54 kata in the system, as there are 54  shrines in a Buddhist temple.

Most systems with 54 katas also have a kata named Gojushiho or Useishi (54 steps). The number 54 is used by the kata because the number has significance. Numbers have significance within the Book of Changes (I-Ching) and other Chinese Classics.   And most old masters, including O'Sensei Kim were very much into the Chinese Classics.

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