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Kata (Forms)

There are fifteen kata essential to the practice of Shotokan karate; and, additional kata are practised at advanced levels.

All movements are performed as if they were being done with real opponents and should have the feel of sparring. In this way, kata allows the use of techniques that would be too dangerous to perform against real opponents and teaches defence against multiple attackers.

Initially, students will work on only one kata, Kihon. At each successive rank level a new kata will be added. However, students continue to do all previous kata..

The next five kata are: Heian Shodan, Heian Nidan, Heian Sandan, Heian Yondan and Godan. Students will then proceed to Tekki Shodan, Tekki Nidan, Tekki Sandan, B Kanku-dai, Jitte, Hangetsu, Empi, Gankaku and Gion.

After extensive practice of the first fifteen kata, students proceed to Bassai-sho, Ka Chinte, Unsu, Sochin, Nijushiho, Gojushiho-dai and Meikyo. Additional advanced kata may then be practised.

It is important to learn each kata fully before proceeding to the next. Correct understanding of each kata is more important than a superficial knowledge of many kata.

Shotokan kata come from either the Shorin-rya (Shorin School) or the Shorei-ryu (Shotokan School). The former emphasises very light, quick movements, with rapid motions to the front and the back. The latter emphasises development of physical strength and muscular power. It is vital to know which school a kata comes from; otherwise the kata cannot be performed properly.

There is some dispute about which schools Gankaku and Nijushiho come from.


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