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, blocks, and throws. Body movement in various kata includes stepping, twisting, turning, dropping to the ground, and jumping. In Shotokan, kata is not a performance or a demonstration, but is for individual karateka to practice full techniques—with every technique potentially a killing blow; while paying particular attention to form and timing (rhythm).
Shotokan Karate is comprised of 26 katas, each with their own emphasis on fast and slow or controlled and powerfull movements. Virtually all of the katas taught today in the Shotokan system have two kiai points.
The kiai or "spirit cry" as it is sometimes referred to, occurs only at certain pre-determined moments in each kata. It is precisely at these pre-determined moments that the karate-ka is required to demonstrate a total commitment of body, mind, and spirit, and to channel all of their available energy and apply it appropriately to the required technique. The kiai is a common thread that runs through all major styles of karate.
It is important for every student to remember that as they rise up through the various kyu levels and Dan ranks, the continued regular practice of all of the previous katas that they have been taught is vital to their future progress.
The following is a list of all 26 katas, number of moves, meaning and a demonstration video.
|Heian Shodan||21||"Peacefull Mind One"|
|Heian Nidan||26||"Peacefull Mind Two"|
|Heian Sandan||20||"Peacefull Mind Three"|
|Heian Yondan||27||"Peacefull Mind Four"|
|Heian Godan||23||"Peacefull Mind Five Universe"|
|Tekki Shodan||23||"Iron Horse One"|
|Tekki Nidan||24||"Iron Horse Two"|
|Tekki Sandan||26||"Iron Horse Three"|
|Bassai Dai||42||"Penetrating the Fortress-Big"|
|Bassai Sho||27||"Penetrating the Fortress - Small"|
|Kanku Dai||65||"To look at the Sky - Big"|
|Kanku Sho||48||"To look at the Sky - Small"|
|Jion||47||"Love (and) Goodness"|
|Gankaku||42||"Crane on the Rock"|
|Meikyo||33||"Mirror of the soul"|
|Jiin||38||"Named after the Saint"|
|Gojushiho Dai||67||"54 Steps - Big"|
|Gojushiho Sho||65||"54 Steps - Small"|
|Wankan||24||"Crown of a king"|