Basic Karate Kata List

Karate is one of the most popular martial art forms on the planet. It mainly involves relying on top-notch physical coordination and sound mental focus. Its origins can be traced back to Japan and China. There are various styles of karate practiced in the world, but Shotokan karate is a widely known style. Its development is often associated with Gichin Funakoshi and his son Gigo Funakoshi also known as Yoshitaka. 

Over the past few decades, karate has gained prominence thanks to its success in brilliant fight sequences in many Hollywood and Asian films. The best movies that have included karate in its fight sequences include; Fist of fury, Red cliff, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, kagemusha, IP man,Kill Bill: Volume 1and many more.

When learning how to practice karate, a student is supposed to master a series of karate moves usually against an imaginary opponent. The set or series or karate moves practiced when alone is what is called Kata.

Kata involves a sequence of defensive block formations, counter strike punches, kicks, throws, and sweeps. The various body movements and transitions in karate kata include stepping, turning and twisting, jumping, and dropping to the ground.

Shotokan Karate has a total of 26 Kata, with each having different levels and sequences. However, in this article, we will go through the basic karate kata. They can be found in the following subcategories;

  • Taikyoku
  • Heian

Related article: Shotokan vs Kyokushin

Taikyoku

There is only one kata in this category called the Taikyoku Shodan kata. It is the most basic Kata on the list.

  • Starts with the ready stance
  • From this original position turn on your left at ninety degrees, getting into a front stance and left downward block
  • Then stepping forward in a front position applying a middle left blow
  • Take a 180-degree right turn and right-side front posture ending with a right low defensive block
  • Take a forward step assuming a left front position and use a middle lunge blow
  • After that, you take a step forward, initiate a front position and a right middle lunge, and yell Kiai after it.
  • You then a take a 270-degree left turn, performing a left front position and also a low defensive block on the left side
  • What follows is a forward step, and a right front position and a middle right-sided middle punch
  • Then you take a 180-degree turn, and get into a front body posture on the right side and apply a middle right-sided lunge punch again
  • Then you repeat the forward step, left-front position and then a middle left-hand lunge blow
  • Then a 180-degree turn, followed by a front step right position followed by a low block on the right side of the body
  • After a step forward and a middle left side punch, you then take a 90-degree turn and apply a left low guarding block
  • Then the student takes one step ahead and assumes the left front stance position and performs the middle right-sided punch
  • You then take a forward step, engage in a right-front body position, and shout Kiai for a second time after completing the right-sided middle lunge.
  • Apply a 270-degree stance on the left side and apply a low block on the side.
  • Then you should apply a front step stance and a middle lunge punch.
  • Then you turn right on 180 degrees, apply a right-front position and the same low right defensive block
  • After that, you turn on the left, assume a left front stance, and the middle lunge blow and finally return to the original ready position.

Related article: How to do Sanchin Dachi in Karate

Heian

Heian means a peaceful nature, and all the Kata in this fight movements and sets all start with a block that highlights that all-important peaceful nature. 

There are a total of five Heian Kata, but the most basic in the Heian Kata is the Heian Shodan.

Heian Shodan

  • You start with a ready stance/position
  • Take 90-degree left turn and assume your left-front position and finally into a left low defensive block
  • Take a step forward and into a front stance, and apply a right-sided middle lunge blow
  • Take a 180-degree right-sided front stand and perform a right low defensive block, and ensure your right-hand swirls and takes a low hammer fist
  • Take a forward step and engage a left front stance applying a middle lunge punch on the same side of the body
  • Take a left 90 front position applying left low defensive block
  • Then take a forward step taking a right-side front posture and use rising right block
  • Take a forward step and get into a rising left block
  • Then take a forward step into a right-side front position and getting into a rising right side block, and shout Kiai
  • Take 270-degree turn getting into a left front stance and engage in a left downward defensive block
  • Take a forward step and assume a right front stance and use a right-side middle lunge punch
  • Take a 180-degree turn and get into a right posture making sure to apply a right low defensive block
  • Take a forward step into a left-front position, and throw a middle left lunge punch
    Then take a 90-degree turn getting into a left front stance and finally ending with a left defensive block
  • Then you take a forward step assuming a right forward ending with you throwing a middle right side lunge punch
  • After that, you take another forward step and make sure to get into a left front stance or position left and throw middle lunge hand blow
  • Take a forward step and engage a right forward position, throwing a middle right side lunge punch, and end this step shouting kiai the second time
  • The take a 270-degree turn ending in a left front stance and getting into a middle knife-hand left side defensive block
  • Take a 45-degree turn, and assume a right-side front posture and ending in a middle right side knife-hand guarding defensive block
  • Taking a 135-degree turn, assume a right side front posture and engaging in a middle right side, knife-hand defensive block
  • Take a 45-degree left turn into left front position or stance, and engage in a middle left side knife-hand defensive block
  • You return to the original ready position making sure your left foot comes back to your right foot

The Taikyoku and the Heian are the most basic kata styles any student should learn. If you want to learn the real karate martial art, you should master these most basic karate movements and techniques before advancing into the more advanced karate moves. Once you’ve mastered these two basic kata styles, you can start to develop in the skill levels required for a real and respected karateka.

We are going to be adding more kata into this kata list so stay tuned.