List of Katas – www.jushinkanmartialart.com

What is Kata?

KataThis character means “form”, or “pattern”.  Kata are the formal exercises of karate which emulate defence against multiple imaginary opponents.  Always showing respect and courtesy to your opponent, kata are preceded and concluded with a bow.Every movement has a function and meaning, and every kata is designed to teach particular techniques, movements, stances, and fighting strategies. 

Every kata must be practiced as if engaged in a real fight; with spontaneity, total commitment in blocks and attacks, and the feeling that the next imaginary attack may come from any direction.  In this way the kata becomes more than just a performance for others; the student learns to harness his or her fighting spirit.  The Shotokan Kata Masatoshi Nakayama’s “Best Karate” books are generally considered to be Shotokan Karate’s kata bible, and are viewed by many to be the definitive work on publishing visual images of Shotokan kata. 

Taikyoku Shodan “First Course” or “Basic Ultimate” First  StepIntroduces the two most common forms of hip movement, hip rotation and counter rotation.  Only two techniques, downward block (gedan berai) and lunge punch solar plexis (oi-zuki chudan) are performed, all in zenkutsu dachi. 20 moves

Heian Shodan – 8th kyu kataPeaceful First Step Stepping, in front and back stance.  Changing direction. 21 moves

Heian Nidan – 7th kyu kataPeaceful – Second StepIntroduces sword & spear hand techniques.  Reverse blocking. 26 moves

Heian Sandan – 6th kyu kataPeaceful – Third StepComplicated turning/footwork.  Close distance techniques.20

Heian Yondan – 5th kyu kataPeaceful – Fourth StepTeaches balance and control.  Side kicks and back stances. 27 moves

Heian Godan – 4th kyu kataPeaceful – Fifth StepThe first jump, encountered among the 26 kata, is found here. 23 moves

Tekki Shodan Iron Knight or, Steel Horse or, Steel Horse RidingThe kanji refer to “land between two rice paddies” and “battle”, or “war” These kata are performed solely in horse riding stance (Kiba Dachi).  Provides for strong knee development.  Side to side combat.  Snappy head motions.  The kanji suggests fighting techniques used by a horseman in combat, or from the back of a horse. 29 moves

Tekki Nidan 24 moves

Tekki Sandan 36 Tekki Shodan is performed for 3rd kyu (brown Belt) examination.  Tekki Nidan is required for 2nd level black belt examination, and Tekki Sandan for 3rd level black belt.

Bassai – Dai“Extract from a fortress”, “rescue” (Big Bassai)Large scale techniques with wide motions.  Frequent reverse postures with snappy hip motions. 42 moves

Kanku – Dai“The view of the sky” (Big Kanku)The longest of Shotokan Kata, Kanku-Dai is a compilation of all the Heian.  It is thought to be the Shotokan parent kata. The 2 level double kick is encountered here. 65 moves

Jion“Temple” – from a temple named “Jion-Ji”A large scale and simple kata with familiar single technique and single step combinations.  Simple to learn for one who has mastered the Heian and Tekki kata. 47 moves

Empi“Flying Swallow”Contains the first difficult jumping technique, combined with a knife hand block.  Best suited for light, agile students.  Very athletic kata.37“Bassai-Dai”, “Kanku-Dai”, “Jion”, and “Empi” are considered to be the “Big Four Kata”  They are considered to be the standard Shotokan kata by international, inter-style competitions.  In JKA tournaments, they are a requirement in progressive rounds.  They are also the four kata from which a student may choose a kata for their examinations from 3rd kyu (3rd level brown belt) to Shodan (1st level black belt).  For Nidan (2nd level black belt), the student is required to know all four of these kata. 37 moves

Gankaku“Crane Standing Upon a Rock”Balance and control.  Much use of one legged stance, “Sagi Ashi Dachi”42Jutte“Ten Hands”Some techniques are indicative of “bo or staff fighting techniques.
24 moves

Hangetsu“Half Moon” or “Half Month”Named after the Half Moon Stance “Hangetsu Dachi”.  Contains many slow, tensed motions requiring breathing exercises of the performer.  Hardens the body against a blow.41The aforementioned kata complete the mandatory 15 kata, any of which can be asked of a student during their Sandan level examination.  The advanced kata listed below are typically practiced by the karate-ka for advanced training and competition, as well as examinations.  Of the advanced kata below, choose one that suits your body style and athletic abilities, as well as your preference.  Never stop practicing the first 15 kata. Advanced Kata
41 moves

Bassai – Sho“Extract from a fortress”, “rescue” (Little Bassai)Unique emphasis on stick defenses and counters.  Neko ashi dachi is encountered here. 27 moves

Kanku – Sho“The view of the sky” (Little Kanku)Contains many double punches and stick controlling techniques.  The mid section is the prime target area. 47 moves

Chinte“Unusual Hands”Use of elbow strikes, scissors punch, and 2 finger punch help give Chinte it’s name.  Thought to be more appropriate for women, having strikes indicative of using technique more than raw power. 32 moves

Sochin“Grand Suppression” or “Energetic calm”Smooth with a powerful and heavy rhythm.  Stance is mostly Fudo Dachi with remainder of kata in Kokutsu Dachi.  Muso-Gamae & Manji-Gamae postures. 41 moves

Nijushiho“Twenty-four Steps”Sanchin Dachi (inward tension stance) is introduced in this kata. 34 moves

Meikyo“Bright Mirror”The opening technique has the performer pull both both palms up to their face and look in them, as if they are looking into a mirror.  Derived from the Rohai kata in Okinawa.
33 moves

Gojushiho – Dai“Fifty-four Steps” (Big Gojushiho)Some interesting techniques include the “Flowing Cloud Block”, the “Flowing Water Back Fist Posture”, and the “Chicken Head Wrist Block”.  The kata should convey the idea of a bird attacking its foe with its beak, wings, and claws.  Smooth and flowing techniques when performed well.
62 moves

Gojushiho – Sho“Fifty-four Steps” (Little Gojushiho) 64 moves

Unsu“Cloud Hands”The most intense and acrobatic of the 26 kata, it is arguably the most beautiful to watch.  It’s ground techniques, and a 360 degree turn, leaping into the air, are indicative of it’s degree of difficulty.  48 moves

Wankan“Kings Crown”The shortest of the 11 advanced katas, it contains smoother and lighter movements than what is typically encountered in Shotokan kata. 24 moves

Jiin“Temple Grounds”Although more complex and difficult than “Jion“, Jiin contains many of the same movements.  Where “Jion” has simple stepping movements, Jiin contains many twists and turns that add to it’s difficulty. Wankan and Jiin were left out of Nakayama’s “Best Karate” series.  It is unclear whether this was intentional, or caused by Nakayama’s sudden death in 1987.  Regardless, it leaves the two kata shrouded in darkness.   35 moves

Recommended Kata Books: by Sensei Hirokazu Kanazawa: ” Karate The Complete Kata”, and by Sensei M. Nakayama: “Best Karate” series.