THE KATAS OF SHOTOKAN KARATE-DO
 
Enough for a lifetime
Below you will find a list of all of the katas taught in the modern Shotokan Karate system, as well as photographs of all their respective movements.
 
I have made a point of specifying the exact location of the various "kiai points" that are to be found in each kata, some of the techniques that are introduced for the first time in each particular kata, as well as the allowable time in which each kata should be performed.
 
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.
 
Kiai points
Virtually all of the katas taught today in the Shotokan system have at least two kiai points.
 
There are, however, exceptions to this rule, an example being the kata "Wankan" which has only one kiai point. It must be noted that the number of kiai points contained in each kata should in no way be used as a means of evaluating the importance, or the dificulty, of each individual kata.
 
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.
 
Progressive layering
Knowledge in all things is cumlative.
 
We have all heard the expression "you must learn to walk, before you can learn to run".
 
As with most tasks in life, learning to walk and then to run, not only takes a certain amount of time it also takes the repeated and more importantly the successful practice of certain basic skills. These skills must all be learnt in a very specific order if the desired outcome is to be acheived within a reasonable amount of time.
 
The art of Shotokan karate-do is no different.
 
One of the most important ways in which a students skills and progress are measured within the Shotokan system, is through the quality of their kata. These katas are considered the "soul" of the Shotokan karate system, and they should be taught to each student in a very specific, pre-determined order, that is based not only upon the complexity of each individual kata, but also on the previous experience, and current technical ability of each individual student.
 
This is a process that I refer to as "progressive layering".
 
It is precisely because of the fact that knowledge is cumlative that this "progressive layering" process should be strictly adhered to and not circumvented. For example, if a student were to make a habit of trying to learn katas that are well above their current level of personal developement, then all of the movements, and techniques, contained in each of the katas that they have omitted learning, would not be imbedded into the memory cells of their body, or their mind.
 
Consequently the over all quality of the kata they were attempting to learn would suffer greatly.
 
To develop a true understanding of all that the art of Shotokan karate has to offer, you must progess in a linear fashion, taking all that you have learnt to date, and applying it to what comes next. Those students who jump ahead thinking that knowing a "higher kata" makes them a better karate-ka, are kidding no one but themselves. In fact most often, quite the opposite will occur. It is, therefore, imperative that students accept the fact very early on in their karate training, that all the katas must be learnt in a specific order, and that this is by design, for each kata is in fact the building block for the kata to follow.
 
In this fast paced, fast food, I want it now environment that most North Americans are use to, kata may seem out of place. Yet I assure you it is not, but it is only after many years of hard work and dedication that the true value of any kata will ever be reveled to those who truly seek it.
 
Remember, just knowing the "embusen", or pattern of a specific kata, making fierce faces, a loud kiai, and strong movements, is not an indication of "knowing" the kata, let alone understanding it.
 
Only time can do that, and only for those who spend their time well.
 
My thanks go to two individuals for their kind generosity in allowing me to copy images from their own personal web sites.
 
They are Shihan John Ang, 6th Dan, Chief Instructor of The Australian Ninjukai Association, for allowing me to copy the images of the various coloured belts from his web site, and Shihan Scot Mertz, Chief Instructor of the World Shotokai Federation, for allowing me to transfer all the photographs of the various Shotokan katas and embusen from his web site. You will find a direct link to each of their respective organizations listed in my Karate Links section.
 
Remember:
Learning the pattern of all twenty-six katas found in the Shotokan system is one thing,
truly understanding them, however, is a process that will take you an entire lifetime.
 
 
THE REQUIRED GRADINGS KATAS OF THE
FUNAKOSHI SHOTOKAN KARATE ASSOCIATION (FSKA)
 
 
SHIHAN KENNETH FUNAKOSHI, 9TH DAN, (FSKA)
CHIEF INSTRUCTOR OF THE FUNAKOSHI SHOTOKAN KARATE ASSOCIATION
 
The following Shotokan katas are presented in the order in which they are taught at our dojo and as specified by Shihan Kenneth Funakoshi, Sandan 9th Dan, (FSKA) Chief Instructor, of the Funakoshi Shotokan Karate Association. While Taikyoku Nidan and Taikyoku are not a required part of Shihan Funakoshi's curiculum, I have listed them here as a point of interest, since all three of the Taikyoku katas can be found referrenced in Karate-Do Kyohan, by Gichin Funakoshi, Sensei.
 
  • TAIKYOKU SHODAN - "First Cause"
The first of three kata in the Taikyoku series, Taikyoku Shodan is the most basic kata taught in the Shotokan syllabus. This kata is primarily to teach beginners some of the fundamental aspects of kata. Due to it's similarity to Heian Shodan a kata found in the next series many Shotokan dojos today do not even bother teaching this kata to their students. Personally I consider this to be a good kata for beginners to learn first, since this kata permits the beginner to develop a basic understanding of kata, while only having to concentrate on learning one basic stance zenkutsu-dachi (front stance), and two basic hand techniques, chudan-oi-zuki (middle level lunge punch) and gedan-barai (lower level down block). Only after having first trained for some student then move on and learn the more complex hand techniques, stances, and combination movements, that will be taught in the up coming when a student has finally become proficient in Heian series of katas. It has been said that after spending many decades of training, and having finally mastered all of the katas found within the Shotokan karate system, a karate-ka should return once again to this kata and in the words of Gichin Funakoshi Sensei, use it "as the ultimate training kata".
 
 
 
NO PHOTOS AVAILABLE
 
There are two kiai points found in Taikyoku Shodan, the first one occurs on the last chudan-oi-zuki (middle level lunge punch) at the top of the " I " of the embusen (line of attack), and the second one occurs on the last chudan-oi-zuki (middle level lunge punch) at the bottom of the " I " of the embusen (line of attack). This kata contains 20 movements and should take the student approximately 35 seconds to complete. To finish the kata from the last movement, leave your right foot in place and withdrawing your left foot stand up and face forward in a hachiji-dachi (natural stance), now bring your left foot half way in towards your right foot, and then your right foot half way in towards your left foot, and at the same time bring your hands to your sides, standing in heisoku-dachi (attention stance), rei (bow), now step out with your left foot, then your right foot and stand once again in hachiji-dachi (natural stance). This is a required kata for advancing from 10th kyu (white belt) to 9th kyu (yellow belt).
 
  • TAIKYOKU NIDAN - "Second Cause"

The second of three kata in the syllabus Taikyoku Nidan is also used primarily to teach beginners the most fundamental aspects of kata. Once again due to it's similarity to a kata found in the next series called Heian Shodan, many Shotokan dojos today do not even bother teaching this kata to their students. Personally, as with Taikyoku Shodan, I consider this to be a good kata for beginners to learn. Taikyoku Nidan in particular is used to introduce students for the first time a new hand technique, jodan-oi-zuki (upper level lunge punch), while still retaining the zenkutsu-dachi (front stance), and the gedan-barai (lower level down block) they were taught in the previous kata. Only after having first trained for some time in both Taikyoku Shodan and Taikyoku Nidan will a student then be ready to move on and learn the more complex hand techniques, stances, and combination movements, that will be taught in the up coming Heian series of katas.
 
 
 
NO PHOTOS AVAILABLE
 
There are two kiai points found in Taikyoku Nidan, the first one occurs on the last jodan-oi-zuki (upper level lunge punch) at the top of the " I " of the embusen (line of attack), and the second one occurs on the last jodan-oi-zuki (upper level lunge punch) at the bottom of the " I " of the embusen (line of attack). This kata contains 20 movements and should take the student approximately 35 seconds to complete. To finish the kata from the last movement, leave your right foot in place and withdrawing your left foot, stand up and face forward in a hachiji-dachi (natural stance), now bring your left foot half way in towards your right foot, and your right foot half way in towards your left foot, and at the same time bring your hands to your sides, standing in heisoku-dachi (attention stance), rei (bow), now step out with your left foot, then your right foot, and stand once again in hachiji-dachi (natural stance). This is a required kata for advancing from 10th kyu (white belt) to 9th kyu (yellow belt).
 
  • TAIKYOKU SANDAN - "Third Cause"
The third kata in the Taikyoku series, and the last of the most basic katas taught in the Shotokan syllabus, Taikyoku Sandan is also used primarily to teach beginners the most fundamental aspects of kata. Once again due to this kata's similarity to the katas taught in the Heian series many dojos today do not even bother teaching this kata to their new students. Once again I reiterate, that as with the two previous Taikyoku katas, I consider this to be another good kata for beginners to learn. Taikyoku Sandan in particular is used to introduce the beginner for the first time to a new hand technique, chudan-uchi-uke (inside outward block), and to a new basic stance, kokutsu-dachi (back stance), while at the same time maintaining the jodan-oi-zuki (upper level lunge punch), gedan-barai (lower level down block) and zenkutsu-dachi (front stance) found in the previous two katas. Only after having first trained for some time in both Taikyoku Shodan, Taikyoku Nidan, and Taikyoku Sandan will a student then be ready to move on and learn the more complex hand techniques, stances, and combination movements, that will be taught in the up coming Heian series of katas.
 
 
 
NO PHOTOS AVAILABLE

There are two kiai points found in top the punch) at Taikyoku Sandan, the first one occurs on the last jodan-oi-zuki (upper level lunge of the the at lunge punch) " I " of the embusen (line of attack), and the second one occurs on the last jodan-oi-zuki (upper level bottom of the approximately student should take the 35 " I " of the embusen (line of attack). This kata contains 20 movements and seconds to completewithdrawing your left foot, stand up movement, leave your right foot in place and . To finish the kata from the last and face forward in a towards your right foot, and your right foot left foot half way in (natural stance), now bring your hachiji-dachi half way in towards your left foot, and at the same time bring your hands to your sides, standing in heisoku-dachi (attention stance), rei (bow), now step out with your left foot, then your right foot and stand once again in hachiji-dachi (natural stance). This is a required kata for advancing from 10th kyu (white belt) to 9th kyu (yellow belt).

 

HEIAN SHODAN - "Peaceful Mind Number One"

This is the first of the katas taught in the Heian series, which is a series consisting of five different katas. This series of katas was originally created by the great Okinawan karate teacher, Master Itosu Anko (1831 - 1915) and this series of katas was originally known by it's Okinawan name Pinan. Master Itosu created the katas in order to teach the art of karate to children in the Okinawan school system and it is believed that he derived many of the movements and material was from more advanced kata such as the much older root katas Channan was Kanku Sho. When the Founder of Shotokan Karate, Gichin Funakoshi Sensei first introduced karate to Japan he changed the name of the first five katas from the Okinawan pronunciation of Pinan to Heian or "Peaceful Mind" perhaps in order to have these katas more readily accepted by Japanese society. It is interesting to note that this kata was originally the second kata taught in this series and Heian Nidan was taught first, however Gichin Funakoshi Sensei reversed the order as he felt it was more appropriate as he felt that Pinan Shodan was less complex than Pinan Nidan and should therefore be taught as the second kata. This kata introduces the student for the first time to several new hand techniques, such as rising block jodan-tetsui-zuki, (upper level hammer fist strike), jodan-age-uke (upper levelblock), and shuto-zuki, (sword hand strike), as well as the concept of tai-sabaki (body shifting).
 
 
Sempai Dan Quinn - Sho Dan
Performing Heian Shodan
 
 
There are two kiai points found in top of the Heian Shodan, the first one occurs on the last jodan-age-uke (upper level rising block) at the at the punch) " I " of the embusen (line of attack), and the second one occurs on the last chudan-oi-zuki (middle level lunge bottom of the approximately the student 40 " I " of the embusen (line of attack). This kata contains 21 movements and should take seconds to complete withdrawing your left foot, stand up right foot in place and . To finish the kata from the last movement, leave your and face forward in a towards your right foot, and your right foot your left foot half way in hachiji-dachi (natural stance), now bring half way in towards your left foot, and at the same time bring your hands to your sides, standing in heisoku-dachi (attention stance), reileft foot, then your right foot and stand once again in hachiji-dachi (natural stance). This is also a (bow), now step out with your required kata for advancing from (yellow belt).10th kyu (white belt) to 9th kyu
 

HEIAN NIDAN - "Peaceful Mind Number Two"

The second kata in the Heian series, this kata requires the student for the first time to include a kick in their kata. In this instance there are two of them, a front chudan-yoko-geri-keage (middle level side snapping kick), and a chudan-mae-geri-keage (middle level snapping kick) (middle level ). In addition, several new hand techniques are also introduced for the first time. They are chudan-uraken back fistas well as, an ), chudan-nukite-zuki (middle level spear hand strike), chudan-gyaku-zuki (middle level reverse punch), augmented or supported technique, previously mentioned morote-chudan-uchi-uke (supported middle level inside outward block). As previously mentioned Heian Nidan was originally taught by the Okinawan's as the first kata in the Pinan series, but Gichin Funakoshi Sensei, the "Founder of Shotokan Karate" reversed the order of Pinan Shodan and Pinan Nidan when he first introduced karate to Japan, as he felt that Pinan Nidan was a much more complex kata, and should therefore, be taught as the second kata. It was also at this time that he changed the name of this particular series of katas from Okinawan pronunciation of Pinan to the the Japanese pronunciation of Heian or "Peaceful Mind", perhaps in order to have these katas more readily accepted by Japanese society.
 
 
Sempai Curtis Lindsay - Ni Dan
Performing Heian Nidan
 
 
There are two kiai points in Heian Nidan, the first one occurs on the chudan-nukite-zuki (middle level spear hand) at the top of the "I" of the embusen (line of attack), and the second one occurs on the very last movement of the kata, which is a jodan-age-uke (upper level rising block). This kata contains 26 movements and should take the student approximately 40 seconds minute to complete, to finish the kata from the last movement, leave your right foot in place and withdrawing your left foot, stand up and face forward in a hachiji-dachi (natural stance), now bring your left foot half way in towards your right foot, and your right foot half way in towards your left foot, and at the same time bring your hands to your sides, standing in heisoku-dachi (attention stance), rei (bow), now step out with your left foot, then your right foot and stand once again in hachiji-dachi (natural stance). This is a required kata for advancing from 9th kyu (yellow belt) to 8th kyu (orange belt).
 
 
  •  
    HEIAN SANDAN - "Peaceful Mind Number Three"
     
    The third kata in the Heian series, and popular with many junior students, this kata is noted for the introduction of a very strong side stance known as kiba-dachi (horse riding stance). Also introduced for the first time is the students requirement to perform a simultaneous two handed combination block, in this case a gedan-barai (lower level down block), and a chudan-uchi-uke (inside outward block), both of which are performed on the second and fourth movements of this kata. Other new hand techniques introduced are, chudan-haishu-uke (middle level back hand block), and jodan-mawashi-zuki (upper level hook punch). One of the more difficult elements of Heian San Dan occurs coming back down the "I" of the embusen (line of attack), in which the student is required to perform a series of movements in kiba-dachi (horse riding stance) while simultaneously blocking and striking.
 
 
 
There are two kiai points in Heian Sandan, the first one occurs on the chudan-oi-zuki (middle level lunge punch) at the top of the "I" of the embusen (line of attack), and the second one occurs on the last movement of the kata a jodan-mawashi-zuki (upper level hook punch). This kata contains 23 movements and should take the student approximately 40 seconds to complete. To finish the kata from the last movement, leave your left foot in place and withdrawing your right foot, stand up facing forward in a hachiji-dachi (natural stance), now bring your left foot half way in towards your right foot, and your right foot half way in towards your left foot, and at the same time bring your hands to your sides, now standing in heisoku-dachi (attention stance), rei (bow), now step out with your left foot, then your right foot and stand once again in hachiji-dachi (natural stance). This is a required kata for advancing from 8th kyu (orange belt) to 7th kyu (red belt).
 
  • HEIAN YODAN - "Peaceful Mind Number Four"

     
    The fourth kata in the Heian series, the student will find this to be the longest kata taught to date, in addition, more emphasis is placed on kicks in this kata than in any previous kata found in this series. There are three chudan-mae-geri-keages (middle level front snapping kicks), and two chudan-yoko-geri-keages (middle level side snapping kicks). Once again several new hand techniques are introduced for the first time, they are gedan-juji-uke (downward X block), chudan-empi-zuki (middle level elbow strike), and kake-wake-uke (reverse wedge block), as well as one new stance, kosa-dachi (cross legged stance). This kata also introduces the student for the first time to two new concepts. One is the "leaping step", this is where the student is required to follow up a technique, in this case a jodan-mae-geri-keage (upper level front snapping kick), with a "leap" forward into a kosa-dachi (cross legged stance), the distance travelled will usually be equal to one full length zenkutsu-dachi (front stance) in distance. The second new concept is that of teaching the student to shift from one stance to another without moving their feet from the present embusen (line of attack) that they are on. In this case from a kokutsu-dachi (back stance), to a zenkutsu-dachi (front stance), it is very important to remember that the dynamics of this movement are done entirely without stepping off line. Many dojos today, however, make the mistake of allowing their students to move their left (front) foot over from the kokutsu-dachi (back stance), into a full width zenkutsu-dachi (front stance), but since the whole point of the lesson at this point in their training is for the student to learn to "shift" from once stance to another, allowing the student to "step" defeats the whole purpose of the lesson and so it must be avoided.
 
 
 
There are two kiai points in Heian Yodan, the first one occurs on the augmented chudan-uraken (supported middle level back fist) at the top of the "I" of the embusen (line of attack), and the second one occurs on the chudan-hiza-geri (middle level knee strike) at the bottom of the "I" of the embusen (line of attack). This kata contains 27 movements and should take the student approximately 45 seconds to complete. To finish the kata from the last movement, leave your left foot in place and withdrawing your right foot, stand up and face forward in a hachiji-dachi (natural stance), now bring your left foot half way in towards your right foot, and your right foot half way in towards your left foot, and at the same time bring your hands to your sides, standing in heisoku-dachi (attention stance), rei (bow), now step out with your left foot, then your right foot and stand once again in hachiji-dachi (natural stance). This is a required kata for advancing from 7th kyu (red belt) to 6th kyu (green belt).
 
 
  • HEIAN GODAN - "Peaceful Mind Number Five"

    The Fifth and the final kata in the Heian series, this kata is without a doubt the most popular of all the Heian katas. This kata amongst other things, is noted for the introduction of a jump from one facing position to another, a new kicking technique, chudan-mika-zuki-geri (middle level inside crescent kick), two new hand techniques, chudan-mawashi-zuki (middle level round house punch), and jodan-shuto-juji-uke (upper level open hand X block).
     
 
Sempai Curtis Lindsay - Ni Dan
Performing Heian Godan
 
 
There are two kiai points in Heian Godan , the first one occurs on the chudan-oi-zuki (middle level lunge punch) at the top of the "I" of the embusen (line of attack), and the second one occurs when you are at the top of the "I" of the embusen (line of attack) for the second time, the kiai should begin the moment you start the jump and continue until you land in a kosa-dachi (cross legged stance). This kata contains 25 movements and should take the student approximately 45 seconds to complete, to finish the kata from the last movement, leave your left foot in place and withdrawing your right foot, stand up and face forward in a hachiji-dachi (natural stance), now bring your left foot half way in towards your right foot, and your right foot half way in towards your left foot, and at the same time bring your hands to your sides, standing in heisoku-dachi (attention stance), rei (bow), now step out with your left foot, then your right foot and stand once again in hachiji-dachi (natural stance). This is a required kata for advancing from 6th kyu (green belt) to 5th kyu (violet belt).
 
  • TEKKI SHODAN - "Iron Horse Number One"

    The first of the three Tekki katas, this kata was originally known by it's Okinawan name Naihanchi, a name still commonly used today in several other styles of karate. Thought to be Chinese in origin this kata is known for the introduction of several unique inward kicks, commonly known as "wave kicks". It is widely believed that the three Tekki katas we know and practice today within the Shotokan system, were once linked together and taught as one single continuous kata, but that this kata was ultimately broken down into the three parts we practice today by Gichin Funakoshi sensei's teacher Master Itosu, primarily for ease of teaching. Gichin Funakoshi Sensei then changed the name of this particular kata from Naihanchi to Tekki Shodan when he introduced the art of karate to Japan, perhaps in order to have the Tekki series of katas more readily accepted by Japanese society.
 
 
 
There are two kiai points in Tekki Shodan, the first one occurs to the left side on the first ni-yoko-chudan zuki (double middle level side punch), this occurs half way through the kata at the extreme left hand end of the embusen (line of attack), and the second one occurs to the right side on the second ni-yoko-chudan-zuki (double middle level side punch), at the extreme right end of the embusen (line of attack), which also happens to be the last movement of the kata. This kata contains 29 movements and should take the student approximately 45 seconds to complete, to finish the kata from the last movement, leave your left foot in place and draw your right foot to your left foot, and finish with your hands to the front of you so you are now in the yoi (ready) position identical to the start of the kata, now bring your hands to your sides and stand in heisoku-dachi (attention stance), rei (bow), now step out with your left foot, then your right foot and stand once again in hachiji-dachi (natural stance). This is a required kata for advancing from 5th kyu (voilet belt) to 4rd kyu (blue belt).
 
  • BASSAI DAI - "To Penetrate the Fortress"

    The first of the two katas in the Bassai series, Bassai Dai is one of the longest katas in the Shotokan syllabus, and it is a good test of the students ability to make maximum use of their hip rotation. This kata introduces the student to several new hand techniques, including chudan-tate-shuto-uchi-uke (middle level vertical inside outward sword hand block), chudan-choku-zuki (middle level straight punch), ryo-sho-tsukami-uke (two handed grasping block), gedan-sokuto-kekomi (lower level sword foot thrust kick), morote-jodan-uke (double rising block), and many other advanced techniques. This kata is very well suited to those students who can bring out the power this kata portrays when done properly. The term "Dai" means "greater" and in this instance refers to the length and strength of this kata.
     
 
Sempai Curtis Lindsay - Ni Dan
Performing Bassai Dai
 
 
There are two kiai points in Bassai Dai, the first one occurs on the gedan-sokuto-kekomi (lower level sword foot thrust kick) which occurs on the last movement at the top of the "I" of the embusen (line of attack), and the second one occurs on the last movement of the kata, a chudan-shuto-zuki (middle level sword hand strike). This kata contains 42 movements and should take the student approximately one minute (60 seconds) to complete. To finish the kata from the last movement, leave your right foot in place and withdrawing your left foot, stand up and finish with your hands in front of you so you are now in the yoi (ready) position identical to the start of the kata, now bring your hands to your sides and stand in heisoku-dachi (attention stance), rei (bow), now step out with your left foot, then your right foot and stand once again in hachiji-dachi (natural stance). This is a required kata for advancing from 4th kyu (blue belt) to 3rd kyu (brown belt). Now for the first time, in addition to performing the kata, the student must also demonstrate appropriate bunkai for this kata as a requirement for advancement.
 
 
  • JION - "Temple Sound"

    The first in a series of three katas, Jion puts the emphasis on teaching a student how to deal with rotational movements, and directional shifts, and is a good kata for a strong powerful student. Jion introduces several new techniques such as a series of three consecutive chudan-teisho-yoko-uke (middle level side palm heel block), and a chudan-uchi-otoshi (middle level falling block).
 
 
 
There are two kiai points in Jion, the first one occurs on the third jodan-soto-uke (upper level forearm block) at the top of the "I" of the embusen (line of attack), and the second one occurs on the very last movement of the kata a chudan-yoko-zuki (middle level side punch). This kata contains 47 movements and should take the student approximately one minute (60 seconds) to complete. To finish the kata from the last movement, leave your left foot in place and withdrawing your right foot to your left foot, stand and finish with with your hands in front of you in the yoi (ready) position identical to the start of the kata, now bring your hands to your sides and stand in heisoku-dachi (attention stance), now rei (bow), now step out with your left foot, then your right foot and stand once again in hachiji-dachi (natural stance). This is a required kata for advancing from 3rd kyu (brown belt) to 2nd kyu (brown belt). In addition to performing the kata, the student must also demonstrate appropriate bunkai for this kata as a requirement for advancement.
  • KANKU DAI - "Looking to the Sky"

    The first of the two katas in the Kanku series Kanku Dai is one of the longest katas in Shotokan karate and is said to take its name from a Chinese General who came to Okinawa as an envoy. The kata gets it's meaning from the first set of movements in this kata, it has been said that Kanku Dai was Gichin Funakoshi Sensei's favorite kata, and the one he most liked seeing his students perform. This kata introduces several new techniques such as ryo-sho-hiji-tate-fuse (both hands and elbows taking cover) and a chudan-ni-mae-geri (double middle level kick). The term "Dai" means "greater" and refers to the length and strength of this kata.
 
 
 
There are two kiai points in this Kanku Dai, the first one occurs on the chudan-nukite-zuki (middle level sword hand strike), and the second one occurs on the second to last movement in the kata a chudan-ni-mae-geri (double middle level kick). This kata contains 65 movements and should take the student approximately one and a half minutes (90 seconds) to complete. To finish the kata from the last movement, since your are already in a yoi (ready) stance facing forward, simply bring your left foot half way in towards your right foot, and your right foot half way in towards your left foot, and finish with your hands at your sides, rei (bow). This is a required kata for advancing from 2nd kyu (brown belt) to 1st kyu (brown belt). In addition to performing the kata, the student must also demonstrate appropriate bunkai for this kata as a requirement for advancement.
 
  • HANGETSU - "Half Moon"

    Named for the semi-circular movements of the hands and feet Hangetsu was originally known by the Okinawan name of Seisan and it is one of the oldest katas known to exist. It is very effective for close in attacks, and the circular leg movements are an excellent way of unbalancing your opponent. This kata introduces several new techniques such as a gedan-gassho-uke (lower level double palm heel block), as well as a unique combination of basic hand and foot techniques.
 
 
 
There are two kiai points in Hangetsu, the first one occurs quite early in the kata on the first turning combination which is comprised of a shuto-chudan-uchi-uke and shuto-gedan-barai (middle level sword hand inside outward block, and a lower level sword hand block), and the second kiai occurs on the second to the last movement of the kata, a gedan-zuki (lower level punch). This kata contains 41 movements and should take the student approximately one minute (60 seconds) to complete. To finish the kata from the last movement, leave your right foot in place and withdraw your left foot and stand up facing forward in a hachiji-dachi (natural stance), now bring your left foot half way in towards your right foot, and your right foot half way in towards your left foot, and finish with your hands at your sides, rei (bow). This is a required kata for advancing from 1st kyu (brown belt) to Sho Dan (1st Dan). In addition to performing the kata, the student must also demonstrate appropriate bunkai for this kata as a requirement for advancement.
 
  • EMPI - "Flying Swallow"

    Named for the kata's resemblance to the up and down pattern of a swallow in flight Empi is a favourite kata with many brown belt and black belt students alike, but the quick complex movements and combinations in this kata, make Empi a kata that should only be taught to the more senior students in the dojo, in particular those who are close to obtaining the rank of Shodan. The requirement to perform for example, a move into kosa-dachi (cross legged stance) while at the same time making chudan-soto-uke and a gedan-zuki (middle level outside inward block and a lower level punch), or properly performing the series of three chudan-teisho-oshi-age-uke and gedan-teisho-osae-uke (upper level pressing palm heal block and lower level pressing palm heal block), while at the same time stepping into a zenkutsu-dachi (forward stance), requires a high level of discipline, and the proper repeated effort, that can only begin to emerge if the student has at least 3 to 4 years of previous training.
 
 
 
There are two kiai points in Empi, the first one occurs on the on the jodan-soto-uke (upper level forearm strike) that is performed while in a hidari-ashi-dachi (left legged stance), and the second kiai begins the moment your start the jump and continues until you land in a kokutsu-dachi (back stance) where a chudan-shuto-zuki (middle level sword hand strike) is performed. Thought to be Chinese in origin this kata was originally introduced to Okinawa as Wanshu a name by which this kata is still known today within several other styles of karate. This kata contains 37 movements and should take the student approximately one minute (60 seconds) to complete. To finish the kata from the last movement, leave your right foot in place and withdrawing your left foot, stand up facing forward in a hachiji-dachi (natural stance), now bring your left foot half way in towards your right foot, and your right foot half way in towards your left foot, and your hands to your sides, rei (bow). This is a required kata for advancing from 1st kyu brown belt to Sho Dan (1st Dan). In addition to performing the kata, the student must also demonstrate appropriate bunkai for this kata as a requirement for advancement.
 
  • TEKKI NI DAN - "Iron Horse Number Two"

    The second kata of the Tekki series katas Tekki Ni Dan introduces several new techniques such as morote-gedan-soto-uke (lower level augmented outward inside block), as well as the opposite technique, a morote-gedan-uchi-uke (lower level augmented inside outward block). Once a student has familiarized themselves thoroughly with Tekki Sho Dan they can begin to learn Tekki Ni Dan which they will discover offers a whole new set of challenges, while still maintaining some of the techniques familiar to them from Tekki Sho Dan. As I have stated earlier, it is believed that the three Tekki katas we know today were once one single, continuous kata, which was ultimately broken down for ease of teaching by Gichin Funakoshi sensei's teacher, Master Itosu. Tekki Nidan represents the "middle" portion of this series.
 
 
 
There are two kiai points in Tekki Ni Dan , the first one occurs half way through the kata on the first morote-shita-zuki (augmented upper level inverted punch), on the right side of the body, and the second one occurs on the last movement of the kata, also a morote-shita-zuki (augmented upper level inverted punch), only this time on the left side of the body. This kata contains 21 movements and should take the student 45 seconds to complete. To finish the kata from the last movement, leave your left foot in place and withdrawing your right foot stand up and face forward in a hachiji-dachi (natural stance), now bring your left foot half way in towards your right foot, and your right foot half way in towards your left foot, and at the same time bring your hands to your sides, now standing in heisoku-dachi (attention stance), rei (bow), now step out with your left foot, then your right foot and stand once again in hachiji-dachi (natural stance). This is a required kata for advancing from 1st kyu brown belt to Shodan (1st Dan). In addition to performing the kata, the student must also demonstrate appropriate bunkai for this kata as a requirement for advancement.
 
NOTE : At this point in their training, the average student will probably have been studying Shotokan karate for approximately three to four years and will in most cases now be on the threshold of grading for their black belt, and the rank of Shodan (1st Dan).
 
While all of the katas that are listed above must be known by a student grading for a black belt, and the rank of Sho Dan (1st Dan) within the FSKA Shotokan Karate system, the katas that must be performed at their Shodan grading are: Bassai Dai, Jion, Kanku Dai, Hangetsu, Empi, and Tekki Ni Dan. In addition, to performing these katas, the student must also demonstrate appropriate bunkai for all six of these katas as a requirement for advancement.
 
 
Remember:
It is far better to do a few katas very well,
than a great many katas very badly.
Train with patience.
 
 
Beyond Sho Dan
The katas that are listed beyond this point should only be taught to a student once they have reached the rank of Shodan. Further more, the very advanced of the following katas should only be taught to a student much later in their Shotokan karate career once they have obtained a rank such as Ni Dan (2nd Dan), San Dan (3rd Dan), Yon Dan (4th Dan) and beyond.
 
As mentioned earlier, it is very important to always bear in mind that due to the complexity of each individual Shotokan kata you should never try and rush from one kata to another. Trying to learn in this manner accomplishes nothing. In fact it may even slow your ultimate progress, and deminish your understanding of all that Shotokan karate has to offer.
 
  • KANKU SHO - "Looking to the Sky"

    The second of the two katas in the Kanku series Kanku Sho should not be attempted until a student has thoroughly familiarized themselves with all aspects of Kanku Dai. This kata introduces several new techniques, such as a snapping combination chudan-oi-zuki-maeude-hineri (middle level lunge punch followed immediately by snapping and turning the forearm), a jodan-tate-mawashi-shuto-uchi (upper level vertical roundhouse strike), and a naname-shita-ni-oshinobasu (double downward oblique push). One of the primary differences between Kanku Sho and Kanku Dai is that in Kanku Dai the counter attacks are at jodan level (upper level) where as in Kanku Sho the counter attacks tend to be mainly at chudan level (middle level). The term "Sho" means "lesser" and refers to the length and strength of this kata.
 
 
 
There are two kiai points in Kanku Sho, the first one occurs on the naname-shita-ni-oshinobasu (double downward oblique push) and the second one occurs on the very last movement of the kata a chudan-oi-zuki (middle level lunge punch). This kata contains 47 movements and should take the student approximately one minute to complete. To finish the kata from the last movement, leave your right foot in place and withdraw your left foot and stand in a yoi (ready) position identical to the start of the kata, bring your hands to your sides, rei (bow). This is a required kata for advancing from Sho Dan (1st Dan) to Ni Dan (2nd Dan). In addition to performing the kata, the student must also demonstrate appropriate bunkai for this kata as a requirement for advancement.

BASSAI SHO - "To Penetrate the Fortress"

The second of the two katas in the Bassai series Bassai Sho follows a similar embusen (line of attack) as Bassai Dai but it is shorter in length. This kata introduces several new techniques such as a ni-jodan-shita-zuki (double inverted upper level punch), a chudan-tsukami-uke (middle level grasping block), and a gedan-tsukami-uke (lower level grasping block). Once a student has familiarized themselves thoroughly with Bassai Dai they can begin to learn Bassai Sho which they will find portrays a more outward feeling calmness, while still maintaining great inner strength, which is in fact quite the opposite from Bassai Dai which is noted for is visible display of outward power. Within this kata the student will discover a whole new set of challenges, while at the same time still performing some of the more familiar techniques found in Bassai Dai. The term "Sho" means "lesser" and in this instance refers to the length and strength of this kata.
 
 
Sempai Curtis Lindsay - Ni Dan
Performing Bassai Sho
 
 
 
There are two kiai points in Bassai Sho, the first one occurs on the gedan-sokuto-kekomi (lower level sword foot thrust kick) which occurs on the last movement at the top of the "I" of the embusen (line of attack) and the second one occurs on the last ni-yoko-chudan-zuki (middle level side double punch). This kata contains 27 movements and should take the student approximately one minute to complete. To finish the kata from the last movement, leave your left foot in place and withdraw your right foot and stand in a yoi (ready) position identical to the start of the kata, bring your hands to your sides, rei (bow). This is a required kata for advancing from Sho Dan (1st Dan) to Ni Dan (2nd Dan). In addition to performing the kata, the student must also demonstrate appropriate bunkai for this kata as a requirement for advancement.
 
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

JITTE - "Ten Hands"

The second in a series of three katas the name Jitte implies that once a student has mastered this kata they should be able to defend themselves with the hands of ten men. This kata is particularly effective in dealing with stick attacks such as a bo or a jo. Jitte introduces several new techniques such as a series of three consecutive jodan-yoko-uchi-barai (upper level side sweeping block), as well as a series of two sho-koko-bo-uke (tiger mouth block). A good kata for a student who looks strong and powerful Jitte remains a popular kata with many senior ranks.
 
Sempai Curtis Lindsay - Ni Dan
Performing Jitte
 
 
 
There are two kiai points in Jitte, the first one occurs on the last jodan-yoko-uchi-barai (upper level side sweeping block) at the top of the "I" of the embusen (line of attack) and the second kiai occurs on the very last movement of the kata a jodan-age-uke (upper level rising block). This kata contains 24 movements and should take the student approximately 60 seconds to complete. To finish the kata from the last movement, leave your right foot in place and pivoting on your right foot withdraw your left foot to your right foot and at the same time turn 180 degrees counter clockwise and finish in the yoi (ready) position identical to the start of the kata, bring your hands to your sides, rei (bow). This is a required kata for advancing from Sho Dan (1st Dan) to Ni Dan (2nd Dan). In addition to performing the kata, the student must also demonstrate appropriate bunkai for this kata as a requirement for advancement.
 
  • CHINTE - "Extraordinary Hands"

    The name Chinte is Chinese in origin and is thought to be named after the unusual hand movements contained in this kata. This kata introduces several new techniques such as fudo-dachi (rooted stance), chudan-nakadaka-ippon-ken (middle level one knuckle strike), and a jodan-age-nihon-nukite-zuki (upper level two finger spear hand strike), as well as this movement Chinte is most famous for san-suri-ashi (three light hopping steps) which make up the last three moves in the kata and which are thought to be symbolic of crashing waves retreating from the shoreline. This is a very complex kata and a student will find there is much to learn here, in particular the ippon ken (one kunckle strike) and nihon-nukite-zuki (two finger spear hand strike) are unique in that they are not found in any other Shotokan kata.
 
 
* CHINTE KATA
 
*Note: As the photographic diagram of this kata had many movements out of sequence it is no longer shown here.
 
There are two kiai points in this kata, the first one occurs on the jodan-empi-uchi (upper level elbow strike) and the second on occurs on the last chudan-tate-zuki (middle level vertical punch) just before the three small jumping steps. This kata contains 33 movements and should take the student approximately one minute to complete. To finish the kata from the last movement, leave both your feet in place, bring your hands to your sides, rei (bow). This is a required kata for advancing from Sho Dan (1st Dan) to Ni Dan (2nd Dan). In addition to performing the kata, the student must also demonstrate appropriate bunkai for this kata as a requirement for advancement.
 
  • TEKKI SAN DAN - "Iron Horse Number Three"

    The third and last kata in the series Tekki San Dan, like it's predecessor's was created by Gichin Funakoshi sensei's teacher, Master Itosu. Probably the most popular of the three Tekki katas Tekki San Dan offers the student little in the way of new techniques and instead can be best summed up as the end product of what was once one single continuous kata that originally linked all three Tekki katas together.
 
 
 
There are two kiai points in Tekki San Dan, the first one occurs on the first jodan-shita-zuki (upper level rising punch) on the left side half way through the kata and the second kiai occurs on the last movement of the kata which is the second jodan-shita-zuki upper level rising punch) only this time on the right side of the body. This kata contains 22 movements and should take approximately 45 seconds to complete. To finish the kata from the last movement, leave your left foot in place, withdraw your right foot and stand in a yoi (ready) position identical to the start of the kata, bring your hands to your sides, rei (bow). This is a required kata for advancing from Sho Dan (1st Dan) to Ni Dan (2nd Dan). In addition to performing the kata, the student must also demonstrate appropriate bunkai for this kata as a requirement for advancement.
 
NOTE : At this point in their training, the average student will probably have been studying Shotokan karate for approximately six to eight years and will in most cases now be on the threshold of grading for their second level black belt and the rank of Ni Dan (2nd Dan).
 
While all of the katas that are listed above must be known by a student grading for the rank of Ni Dan (2nd Dan) within the FSKA Shotokan karate system, the katas that must be performed at their Ni Dan grading are: Kanku Sho, Bassai Sho, Jitte, Chinte, Tekki San Dan. In addition, to performing these katas, the student must also demonstrate appropriate bunkai for all five of these katas as a requirement for advancement.
 
Remember:
It is far better to do a few katas very well,
than a great many katas very badly.
Train with patience.
 
 
Beyond Ni Dan
The katas that are listed beyond this point should only be taught to a student once they have reached the rank of Ni Dan. Further more, the very advanced of the following katas should only be taught to a student much later in their Shotokan karate career once they have obtained a rank such as San Dan (3rd Dan), Yon Dan (4th Dan) and beyond.
 
As mentioned earlier, it is very important to always bear in mind that due to the complexity of each individual Shotokan kata you should never try and rush from one kata to another. Trying to learn in this manner accomplishes nothing. In fact it may even slow your ultimate progress, and deminish your understanding of all that Shotokan karate has to offer.
 
  • GANKAKU - "Crane on a Rock"

    The kata Gankaku is said to be derived from the Chinese kata Yabu Chinto and Gankaku appears in Isshin-ryu, Shorin-ryu, and Shotokan karate. Yabu Chinto is said to have originated on the island of Okinawa in the early 19th century and to be named for a Chinese sailor who became shipwrecked on the island during a typhoon. Due to the number of hip rotations, and the balance and skill required to kick with a yoko-geri-keage (side snapping kick) from a one legged crane stance, Gankaku is definitely one of the hardest Shotokan katas to master. This kata introduces several new techniques such as a jodan-sokumen-awase-uke (upper level side combination block).
 
 
 
There are two kiai points in this kata, the first one occurs on the first chudan-oi-zuki (middle level lunge punch), and the second one
occurs on the very last movement of the kata also a chudan-oi-zuki (middle level lunge punch). This kata contains 42 movements and should take the student approximately 60 seconds to complete. To finish the kata from the last movement, leave your right foot in place and pivoting on your right foot withdraw your left foot to your right foot and at the same time turn 180 degrees counter clockwise and finish in the yoi (ready) position identical to the start of the kata, bring your hands to your sides, rei (bow). This is a required kata for advancing from Ni Dan (2nd Dan) to San Dan (3rd Dan). In addition to performing the kata, the student must also demonstrate appropriate bunkai for this kata as a requirement for advancement.
  • SOCHIN - "Immovable Stance"

    The kata Sochin displays power and stability which it derives from a strong stance used throughout this kata called fudo-dachi (rooted stance), in fact the stance is used so often in Sochin this particular stance has also become known as sochin-dachi. This kata introduces really only one new technique a jodan-yoko-nukite (upper side spear hand).
 
 
 
There are two kiai points in Sochin, the first one occurs on the first jodan-shita-zuki (upper level rising punch) on the right side three quarters of the way through the kata and the second kiai occurs on the last movement of the kata which is a chudan-kizama-zuki (middle level thrust punch). This kata contains 40 movements and should take the student approximately one minute to complete. To finish the kata from the last movement, leave your right foot in place, withdraw your left foot and stand in a yoi (ready) position identical to the start of the kata, bring your hands to your sides, rei (bow). This is a required kata for advancing from Ni Dan (2nd Dan) to San Dan (3rd Dan). In addition to performing the kata, the student must also demonstrate appropriate bunkai for this kata as a requirement for advancement.
 
  • NIJUSHIHO - "Twenty Four Steps"

    The name Nijushiho originally came from then number of foot movements contained in the kata, and this is the only Shotokan kata in which haishu-uke (back hand block) is used. It is very important that the student not be confused regarding this technique by mistaking it for any of the other pressing, or gabbing techniques, that they have learnt in previous katas. The flow of Nijushiho should be very smooth and the student must make every effort not to make the kata appear jerky and uneven. This kata introduces several new techniques such as chudan-osae-uke ( middle level pressing block), chudan-mae-empi-uchi (middle level forward elbow strike), and as mentioned earlier haishu-uke (back hand block).
 
 
 
There are two kiai points in Nijushiho, the first one occurs on the jodan-kensei (upper level palm feint), and the second kiai occurs on the second to last movement of the kata, a combination jodan-zuki/chudan-zuki (upper level and lower level punch) that is performed in sanchin-dachi (hour glass stance). This kata contains 34 movements and should take the student approximately one minute to complete. To finish the kata from the last movement, leave your left foot in place, withdraw your right foot and stand in a yoi (ready) position identical to the start of the kata, bring your hands to your sides, rei (bow). This is a required kata for advancing from Ni Dan (2nd Dan) to San Dan (3rd Dan). In addition to performing the kata, the student must also demonstrate appropriate bunkai for this kata as a requirement for advancement.
 
  • WANKAN - "Kings Crown"

    This is the shortest kata found in the Shotokan syllabus and yet Wankan is far more complex kata than it first appears to be. Originally from the same historic line as the Chinese kata's Wanshu and Wando this kata was being developed, or modernized by Gichin Funakoshi sensei's son, Yoshitaka (Giko) sensei, who tragically died in the prime of his life shortly after World War II. Because the kata Wankan is so short there are many practitioners today who feel that Yoshitaka (Giko) sensei never completely finished Wankan, thereby leaving us with an incomplete kata. This has resulted in some "modern day masters" occasionally attempting to "complete" this kata by creating their own set of movements and techniques, and adding them onto the end of this kata, as if somehow they can reach back in time and understand what Yoshitaka (Giko) sensei was thinking. How unfortunate that they should feel the need to tamper with the work of such a great sensei rather than just immersing themselves in the study of what can be found in the kata, and simply being satisfied to do the kata as he left it to us.
 
 
 
This kata is unusual in that it has only one kiai point and the kiai occurs on the very last movement of the kata a yama-zuki (mountain punch), identical to the double punch found in the kata Bassai Dai. This kata contains 20 movements and should take the student approximately 45 seconds to complete. To finish the kata from the last movement, leave your left foot in place, withdraw your right foot and stand in a yoi (ready) position identical to the start of the kata, bring your hands to your sides, rei (bow). This kata is practiced primarily by older more experienced karate-ka because unfortunately is not taught that often in dojos today, even in Japan. Wankan is sometimes referred to as the "lost kata" of Shotokan karate. This is a required kata for advancing from Ni Dan (2nd Dan) to San Dan (3rd Dan). In addition to performing the kata, the student must also demonstrate appropriate bunkai for this kata as a requirement for advancement.
 
  • JI'IN - "Temple Ground"

    The third in this series of katas Ji'in is known for it's circular series of movements. Ji'in introduces several new techniques such as a series of three consecutive jodan-shuto-uchi (middle level sword hand strikes), as well as a series of three consecutive chudan-tetsui-uchi (middle level hammer fist strikes). This kata will test a students balance which they will find, can only be improved by placing the proper emphasis on the correct direction of attack. There are two kiai points in Ji'in, the first one occurs on the last jodan-shuto-uchi (middle level sword hand strikes) at the top of the "I" of the embusen (line of attack) and the second kiai occurs on the very last movement of the kata, a chudan-zuki (middle level punch).
 
 
 
This kata contains 34 movements and should take the student approximately one minute to complete. To finish the kata from the last movement, leave your left foot in place, withdraw your right foot and stand in a yoi (ready) position identical to the start of the kata, bring your hands to your sides, rei (bow). This is a required kata for advancing from Ni Dan (2nd Dan) to San Dan (3rd Dan). In addition to performing the kata, the student must also demonstrate appropriate bunkai for this kata as a requirement for advancement.
 
  • MEIKYO - "Polished Mirror"

    The kata Meikyo is a wonderful blend of the most basic techniques found with in the "Heian" series of katas and by repeating many of the hand and foot movements on both the left, and right side, Meikyo suggests a "reflection" of sorts. Hence it's name "polished mirror". This kata introduces the student to only one new technique and that is a sankaku-tobi (triangle jump). Similar in appearance to the circular jumps seen in previous katas such as Empi but this jump is in fact much different and will test the skill level of even the most experienced sensei.
 
Sempai Curtis Lindsay - Ni Dan
Performing Meikyo
 
 
 
There are two kiai points in Meikyo, the first one occurs on the mikazuki-geri (crescent kick) and the second kiai occurs on the jodan-soto-uke (upper fore arm strike) which is performed during the sankaku-tobi (triangle jump). This kata contains 33 movements and should take approximately one minute to complete. To finish the kata from the last movement, leave your right foot in place, withdraw your left foot and stand in a yoi (ready) position identical to the start of the kata, bring your hands to your sides, rei (bow). This is a required kata for advancing from Ni Dan (2nd Dan) to San Dan (3rd Dan). In addition to performing the kata, the student must also demonstrate appropriate bunkai for this kata as a requirement for advancement.
 
At this point in their training, the average student will probably have been studying Shotokan karate for approximately ten to twelve years, and will in most cases now be on the threshold of grading for their third level black belt and the rank of San Dan (3rd Dan).
 
While all of the katas that are listed above must be known by a student grading for the rank of San Dan (3rd Dan) within the FSKA Shotokan karate system, the katas that must be performed at their Sandan grading are: Gankaku, Sochin, Nijushiho, Wankan, Jiin. In addition, to performing these katas, the student must also demonstrate appropriate bunkai for all five of these katas as a requirement for advancement.
 
 
Beyond San Dan
The katas that are listed beyond this point should only be taught to a student once they have reached the rank of San Dan. The following are the three most advanced katas found within the Shotokan karate system, and they should only be taught to a student once they have obtained the rank of San Dan (3rd Dan).
 
As mentioned earlier, it is very important to always bear in mind that due to the complexity of each individual Shotokan kata you should never try and rush from one kata to another. Trying to learn in this manner accomplishes nothing. In fact it may even slow your ultimate progress, and deminish your understanding of all that Shotokan karate has to offer.
 
  • GOJUSHIHO SHO - "Fifty Four Steps"

    The kata Gojushiho-Sho is another of the long Shotokan katas, and is in fact much longer than it's name implies. A variation of the kata Gojushiho-Dai this kata is in fact even longer than Gojushiho-Dai despite the name "Sho" which is generally used to suggest "lesser" against "Dai" which means greater. This is a favourite amongst many senior students. Once again due to the very high level of technical skill needed to do this kata effectively Gojushiho-Sho should not be attempted until a student has reached at least the rank of Sandan. This kata makes extensive use of shuto-uchi/shuto-uke (sword hand strikes and blocks) in addition to introducing several new hand techniques which are unique in that they there are not found in any other Shotokan kata. These include a combination chuda-shuto-osae/shuto-gedan-barai (middle level pressing sword hand block and a lower level sword hand strike), a quick series of three chudan-shihon-nukite-tate-zuki (middle level four finger vertical strike) and a chudan-ryo-sho-bo-uke (middle level double handed stick block) just to name a few.
     
 
Sempai Curtis Lindsay - Ni Dan
Performing Gojushiho Sho
 
 
 
There are two kiai points in Gojushiho-Sho, the first one occurs a chudan-oi-zuki (middle level lunge punch) at the top of the "I" of the embusen (line of attack) three quarters of the way through the kata and the second kiai occurs on the second to last movement of the kata which is a chudan-ryo-te-seiryuto-uchi (middle level double handed ox jaw strike). This kata contains 65 movements and should take the student approximately one and a half minutes to complete. To finish the kata from the last movement, leave your right foot in place, withdraw your left foot and stand in a yoi (ready) position identical to the start of the kata, bring your hands to your sides, rei (bow). This is a required kata for advancing from San Dan (3rd Dan) to Yon Dan (4th Dan). In addition to performing the kata, the student must also demonstrate appropriate bunkai for this kata as a requirement for advancement.
 
  • GOJUSHIHO DAI - "Fifty Four Steps"

    The kata Gojushiho-Dai is another of the very long Shotokan katas and like Gojushiho-Sho it too is longer today than it's name implies. This is also a favourite amongst many senior students, myself included. Once again due to the very high level of technical skill needed to do this kata effectively Gojushiho-Dai should also not be attempted until a student has reached at least the rank of Sandan. This kata introduces several new techniques which again like Gojushiho-Sho are unique in that they too are not found in any other Shotokan katas. These include interesting moves such as chudan-otoshi-ryo-ippon-nukite-zuki (middle level double one knuckle spear hand dropping punch), and the two unusual washide-gedan-otoshi-uchi (lower level falling eagle strike) and washide-jodan-uchi (upper level eagle strike). The term "Dai" means "greater" and refers to the length and strength of this kata but as stated above it is in fact several moves shorter than Gojushiho-Sho inspite of it's name.
 
 
 
There are two kiai points in Gojushiho-Dai, the first one occurs a chudan-oi-zuki (middle level lunge punch) at the top of the "I" of the embusen (line of attack) three quarters of the way through the kata and the second kiai occurs on the second to last movement of the kata which is a chudan-otoshi-ryo-ippon-nukite-zuki (middle level double one finger spear hand dropping strike). This kata contains 62 movements and should take the student approximately one and a half minutes to complete. To finish the kata from the last movement, leave your left foot in place, withdraw your right foot and stand in a yoi (ready) position identical to the start of the kata, bring your hands to your sides, rei (bow). This is a required kata for advancing from San Dan (3rd Dan) to Yon Dan (4th Dan). In addition to performing the kata, the student must also demonstrate appropriate bunkai for this kata as a requirement for advancement.
  • UNSU - "Cloud Hands"

    The kata Unsu is noted for it's quick hand techniques, as well as a ni-mawashi-geri (two round kicks) performed while lying on the ground. To watch this kata done well by a skilled karate-ka is to be witness a constant visual transformation that give you the feeling, that like clouds moving across the sky, the karateka too is unstoppable. This kata introduces several new techniques such as chuda-keito-uke (middle level chicken head block), hitosashiyubi-gedan-nukite (lower level index finger spear hand) and ushiro-geri-kekomi (back thrust kick). Due to the very high level of expertise required to perform this kata well Unsu should only be attempted by very senior karateka and only after all of the other katas listed here have been thoroughly practiced and comprehended.
 
 
 
There are two kiai points in this kata, the first one occurs on the gedan-kekomi (lower level thrust kick) and the second on occurs on the last movement of the kata a chudan-gyaku-zuki (middle level reverse punch). This kata contains 48 movements and should take the student approximately one minute to complete. To finish the kata from the last movement, leave your right foot in place, withdraw your left foot and stand in a yoi (ready) position identical to the start of the kata, bring your hands to your sides, rei (bow). This is a required kata for advancing from San Dan (3rd Dan) to Yon Dan (4th Dan). In addition to performing the kata, the student must also demonstrate appropriate bunkai for this kata as a requirement for advancement.
 
At this point in their training, the average student will probably have been studying Shotokan karate for approximately fifteen to twenty years and will in most cases now be on the threshold of grading for their fourth level black belt and the rank of Yon Dan (4th Dan).
 
While all of the katas that are listed above must be known by a student grading for a black belt and the rank of Yon Dan (4th Dan) within the FSKA Shotokan karate system, the katas that must be performed at their Yondan grading are: Gojushiho Sho, Gojushiho Dai, Unsu. In addition to performing the kata, the student must also demonstrate appropriate bunkai for this kata as a requirement for advancement.
 
Beyond Yon Dan
There are no further katas to be learnt at this stage of a students journey down the Shotokan road.
 
At this point a student should be self motivated and dedicated enough to constantly practice, and review on their own, all of the katas they have been taught, always seeking at every opportunity to improve their personal performance and to increase by every means possible the depth of their knowledge of all things related to the art of Shotokan karate.
 
For the rank of Go Dan (5th Dan) all of the katas listed above must be performed to the satisfaction of the grading examiner.
 
REMEMBER:
Always train as if it is your last day in the dojo.
One day it will be.
 
Part the clouds - see the way.
 
"The objective of karate-do is to contribute to the evolution
of the human spirit through physical and mental training."
Sensei Peter Lindsay

1995-2014 Peter Lindsay - All rights reserved.