Taikyoku Shodan - First Cause
Taikyoku Shodan is the first of three practice katas that are separate from the 26 primary katas found within the Shotokan Karate system. Taikyoku Shodan is the most basic of these kata, and is primarily used to teach beginners the fundamental aspects of kata.
Due to its similarity to Heian Shodan many dojos today do not bother teaching this kata. Personally I consider this to be the kata that beginners should learn first. It allows the new student to focus on learning one basic stance, zenkutsu-dachi (front stance), and one basic punch, chudan-oi-zuki (middle level lunge punch), and one block, gedan-barai (downward sweeping block).
This kata contains 20 movements, and should take the student approximately 35 seconds to complete. The correct performance of this kata is required in order to advance in rank from 10th kyu (white belt) to 9th kyu (yellow belt). Only after having spent sufficient time learning the fundamentals of this particular kata should the student then move on to the next kata in this series, Taikyoku Nidan.
It has been said that after spending many decades of training, and having finally completed a study of all 26 of the katas found within the Shotokan karate system, a karate-ka should return once again to Taikyoku Shodan. In the words of Master Gichin Funakoshi, use it "as the ultimate training kata".
The embusen (pattern) of Taikyoku Shodan is the same as Heian Shodan, except here only chudan-oi-zuki (middle level lunge punch) is used both up, and down, the center line. 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 embusen (line of attack). The second one occurs on the last chudan-oi-zuki (middle level lunge punch) at the bottom of the embusen (line of attack).
Return to a ready position after the last movement of the kata. Leaving your right foot in place withdraw your left foot to stand up once again facing forward in hachiji-dachi (natural stance). You must now formally end the kata. Bring your left foot half way in towards your right foot, and your right foot half way in towards your left foot so that you are now standing with your feet together. At the same time as you bring your feet together bring your hands to your sides so you are again standing in heisoku-dachi (attention stance). Now rei (bow). After bowing step out with your left foot, and then your right foot, and once again stand in hachiji-dachi (natural stance). At the same time bringing your hands from your sides, and hold them in a ready position in front of you with your fists closed.