Kata

Literally translated, kata means “shape” or “form”. Katas are a specific sequence of blocks, kicks, and punches from one or more stances, involving a set number of movements.

The word kata means “shape” or “form”. The kanji for kata (型) is composed of the following characters: 形 – Katachi meaning “Shape,” 刈 – Kai meaning “Cut,” and 土 – Tsuchi meaning “Earth” or “Soil.” Through the practice of kata, the traditional techniques used for fighting are learned; balance, coordination, breathing, and concentration are also developed. Properly practiced, kata are an excellent physical exercise, and a very effective form of mind and body conditioning.

Kata embodies the idea of ren ma (錬磨), or “always polishing”—with diligent practice, the movements of the kata become further refined, understood, and perfected. The attention to detail that is necessary to perfect a kata cultivates self discipline. Through concentration, dedication, and practice, a higher level of learning may be achieved, where the kata is so ingrained in the subconscious mind that no conscious attention is needed. This is what the Zen masters call mushin (無心), or “no mind.” The conscious, rational thought practice is not used at all—what was once memorized is now spontaneous.

Sosai Mas Oyama said that one should “think of karate as a language—the kihon (基本 – basics) can be thought of as the letters of the alphabet, the kata (型 – forms) will be the equivalent of words and sentences, and the kumite (組手 – fighting) will be analogous to conversations.” He believed that it was better to master just one kata than to only half-learn many. Sosai Oyama also emphasized the three fundamental principles of kata practice:

  • Waza no Kankyu (技の緩急) – The Tempo (pace) of the Techniques. The tempo of the kata varies – some techniques are performed quickly, while others are done more slowly.
  • Chikara no Kyojaku (力の強弱) – The Force or Power (strong / weak) of the Techniques. The power of a technique is derived from a proper balance between strength and relaxation.
  • Iki no Chosei (息の調整) – The Control (regulation) of breathing. The correct timing (inhaling and exhaling) and force of the breaths (Kiai – 気合, Ibuki – 息吹, or Nogare – 逃れ) are essential for proper techniques.

The practice of traditional kata is also a way for the karateka to pay respect to the origins and history of Kyokushin Karate and the martial arts in general. Below you will find additional information regarding the origins of Kyokushin Kata, their specific meanings, and links to video examples of the kata in practice.

Origins of Kyokushin Kata
Taikyoku Kata
Piñan Kata
Sanchin Kata
Gekisai Kata
Yantsu Kata
Tsuki no Kata
Tensho Kata
Saifa (or Saiha) Kata
Seienchin Kata
Garyu Kata
Seipai Kata
Kanku Kata
Sushiho Kata