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Kata

Introduction to Shotokan Kata

Shotokan is a style of karate, developed from various martial arts by Gichin Funakoshi (1868–1957) and his son Gigo (Yoshitaka) Funakoshi (1906–1945). Gichin was born in Okinawa and is widely credited with popularizing “karate do” or “the karate way” through a series of public demonstrations, and by promoting the development of university karate clubs, including those at Keio, Waseda, Hitotsubashi (Shodai), Takushoku, Chuo, Gakushuin, and Hosei.

Funakoshi had many students at the university clubs and outside dojos, who continued to teach karate after his death in 1957. However, internal disagreements (in particular the notion that competition is contrary to the essence of karate) led to the creation of different organizations—including an initial split between the Japan Karate Association (headed by Masatoshi Nakayama) and the Shotokai (headed by Motonobu Hironishi and Shigeru Egami), followed by many others—so that today there is no single “Shotokan school”, although they all bear Funakoshi’s influence.

As the most widely practiced style, Shotokan is considered a traditional and influential form of karate do.

Kata is often described as a set sequence of karate moves organized into a pre-arranged fight against imaginary opponents. The kata consists of kicks, punches, sweeps, strikes and blocks. Body movement in various kata includes stepping, twisting, turning, dropping to the ground, and jumping. In Shotokan, kata is a performance or a demonstration, with every technique potentially a killing blow (ikken hisatsu)—while paying particular attention to form and timing (rhythm). As the karateka grows older, more emphasis is placed on the health benefits of practicing kata, promoting fitness while keeping the body soft, supple, and agile.

When the JKA was formed, Nakayama laid down 27 kata as the kata syllabus for this organization. Even today, thousands of Shotokan dojo only practice 26 of these 27 kata.

The standard JKA kata are:

Taikyoku shodan (sometimes termed Kata Kihon or Kihon Kata, the name has been discontinued in some Shotokan dojos)

  • Heian shodan
  • Heian nidan
  • Heian sandan
  • Heian yondan
  • Heian godan
  • Bassai dai
  • Jion
  • Enpi
  • Kanku dai
  • Hangetsu
  • Jitte
  • Gankaku
  • Tekki shodan
  • Tekki nidan
  • Tekki sandan
  • Nijūshiho
  • Chinte
  • Sochin
  • Meikyo / Rohai
  • Unsu
  • Bassai sho
  • Kanku sho
  • Wankan
  • Gojushiho sho
  • Gojushiho dai
  • Ji’in

(Source: Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shotokan#Kata)