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Karate Katas: A Quick Guide

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Karate Katas: A Quick Guide

In Karate, many Karateka (students) practice various styles of Karate. Whether you have a white belt or a black belt, each type of Karate is slightly different.

To begin, there are three fundamental basics of Karate, which all styles share: Kumite, Kihon and Kata.

Kumite: Freestyle Karate sparring judged by scoring – often for competition

Kihon: The essential techniques taught in Karate and their sequences

Kata: The standard pattern of strikes, blocks, punches and kicks used during sparring

What is Kata?

Kata is the repetition of a set choreography that all Karate students must learn from the beginning. Kata was designed to be ingrained in a student’s memory and is difficult to forget. The main goal of the Karate technique is not agility, but flawless execution of proper technique. Thus, karateka goes over the kata repeatedly in training until techniques become natural.

The idea of Kata traces back to Karate’s origins as a martial art that borrowed heavily from Kung Fu. Kung Fu masters practiced a similar form of Kata in their instruction to students.

What Are the Different Karate Katas?

Shotokan Karate – the most widely practiced Karate style, and one that traces its roots to the founder of modern Karate, Gichin Funakoshi. Shotokan karate training uses deep, wide stances that provide strength and momentum for powerful strikes.

Goju Ryu – is another traditional form of Karate that combines hard and soft techniques. This means there is a mix of closed fists and linear strikes with open-hand, circular techniques. There is also a heavy emphasis on correct breathing techniques.

Shito-Ryu – a form of karate that emphasizes fluid movements and agility during training and sparring. Stances in this style rely on short, low stances, not unlike sumo wrestling. Strikes in shito-ryu are closed-hand punches, kicks, and elbow jabs.

Wado-Ryu – This style of karate means ‘way of peace’. The purpose of wado-ryu is an emphasis on avoidance of violence. Basic training involves learning how to move off the attack while blocking, thus putting less force behind counterstrikes.

Shorin-Ryu – this style of Karate combines free-fighting, grappling and pressure-point strikes into its kata that puts defence first. Shorin-ryu teaches that combat is a defence art first and foremost, and that students must also develop a union between mind and body.

Kyokushin – this style of Karate is combat-focused, and uses full-contact sparring techniques rooted in the philosophy of discipline, dedication, and ongoing self-improvement. It is one of the largest martial arts in the world.

Uechi-Ryu – this style of Karate focuses on basic self-defence techniques. These include blocking, grasping, punching, kicking, sweeping, throwing and evasive techniques. Uechi-Ryu strikes are powerful, fast open-handed strikes and pointed-toe kicks.

Shuri-Ryu – This form of Karate was originated by a Hispanic karate master named Robert Trias. While based on karate, it incorporates techniques from Xing Yi Quan Kung Fu as well. Kata is made up of hard and soft techniques made up as punches, blocks, kicks, joint locks, take-downs, throws and the use of weapons.

Shudokan – this is a composite form of Karate that blends kobujutsu (ancient art of weapons practice) with traditional Karate. Shudokan kata emphasizes light, fast motions backed by powerful strikes and kicks. Shudokan students practice circular movements with a balance of hard and soft strikes.

Isshin-Ryu – is a form of karate that developed from a combination of shorin-ryu, goju-ryu, and Kobudo. Like all forms of Karate, Isshin-Ryu combines powerful punches and kicks from natural stances and body posture. This style also incorporates weapons in training, such as using a bo staff.

Why Study Karate By Kata?

Kata practice is critical to helping students develop proper execution of the various different techniques taught in their respective karate schools. Kata techniques help strengthen the body and build a connection with the mind. As training progresses, students develop a strong connection with how their body moves and are able to practice Karate techniques with fluid, natural movements from memory, even when under pressure.


There are many different styles of Karate, all with their distinct techniques, katas, and goals. Whether you want to focus on self-defence with traditional Shotokan karate or get a bit more combat-focused with kyokuyshin, the choice is up to the student. If you are looking to join a fun and welcoming Shotokan karate dojo in Vancouver, check out the Powerhouse for a 2-week trial and start training today.

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