sensei-enoeda-kataKata is the second pillar of a student’s karate. Each kata is a pre-arranged pattern of techniques, providing opportunity to practice different combinations of moves and movements. Often, the movements are put together to simulate a combat situation. Therefore, it is also important to learn the bunkai or application of all kata.

In Shotokan, there are 26 kata to learn over the student’s lifetime. In the early stages, 1 new kata is taught for each new belt level. Further, kata knowledge is cumulative. This means, a student learning Heian Godan cannot forget what they learned in Heian Shodan, because each additional kata builds on previous ones, while introducing additional concepts.

Below is a list of all katas of our style, roughly in the order they should be learned. Most will have a graphic chart showing all moves step by step, and katas that have been featured will also include video links and additional info.


Japanese Name Translation Summary # Moves
Heian Shodan Peaceful – First Step Stepping, in front and back stance. Changing direction. 21 Moves
Heian Nidan Peaceful – Second Step Introduces sword & spear hand techniques. Reverse blocking. 26 Moves
Heian Sandan Peaceful – Third Step Complicated turning/footwork. Close distance techniques. 20 Moves
Heian Yondan Peaceful – Fourth Step Teaches balance and control. Side kicks and back stances. 27 Moves
Heian Godan Peaceful – Fifth Step The first jump, encountered among the 26 kata, is found here. 23 Moves
Tekki Shodan

Tekki Nidan

Tekki Sandan

Iron Knightor, 

Steel Horse or,

Steel Horse Riding.

These kata are performed solely in horse riding stance (Kiba Dachi). Provides for strong knee development. Side to side combat. Snappy head motions. The kanji suggests fighting techniques used by a horseman in combat, or from the back of a horse. 29 Moves

24 Moves

36 Moves

Bassai – Dai “Extract from a fortress”, “rescue”(Big Bassai) Large scale techniques with wide motions. Frequent reverse postures with snappy hip motions. 42 Moves
Kanku – Dai “The view of the sky”(Big Kanku) The longest of Shotokan Kata, Kanku-Dai is a compilation of all the Heian. It is thought to be the Shotokan parent kata. The 2 level double kick is encountered here. 65 Moves
Jion “Temple” – from a temple named “Jion-Ji” A large scale and simple kata with familiar single technique and single step combinations. Simple to learn for one who has mastered the Heian and Tekki kata. 47 Moves
Empi “Flying Swallow” Contains the first difficult jumping technique, combined with a knife hand block. Best suited for light, agile students. Very athletic kata. 37 Moves
Gankaku “Crane Standing Upon a Rock” Balance and control. Much use of one legged stance. 42 Moves
Jitte “Ten Hands” Some techniques are indicative of “bo or staff fighting techniques. 24 Moves
Hangetsu “Half Moon” or “Half Month” Named after the Half Moon Stance “Hangetsu Dachi”. Contains many slow, tensed motions requiring breathing exercises of the performer. Hardens the body against a blow. 41 Moves


Japanese Name Translation Summary # Moves
Bassai – Sho “Extract from a fortress”, “rescue” (Little Bassai) Unique emphasis on stick defenses and counters. Neko ashi dachi is encountered here. 27 Moves
Kanku – Sho “The view of the sky” (Little Kanku) Contains many double punches and stick controlling techniques. The mid section is the prime target area 47 Moves
Chinte “Unusual Hands” Use of elbow strikes, scissors punch, and 2 finger punch help give Chinte it’s name. Thought to be more appropriate for women, having strikes indicative of using technique more than raw power. 32 Moves
Sochin “Grand Suppression” or “Energetic calm” Smooth with a powerful and heavy rhythm. Stance is mostly Fudo Dachi with remainder of kata in Kokutsu Dachi. Muso-Gamae & Manji-Gamae postures. 41 Moves
Nijushiho “Twenty-four Steps” Sanchin Dachi (inward tension stance) is introduced in this kata. 34 Moves
Meikyo “Bright Mirror” The opening technique has the performer pull both both palms up to their face and look in them, as if they are looking into a mirror. Derived from the Rohai kata in Okinawa. 33 Moves
Gojushiho – Dai

Gojushiho – Sho

“Fifty-four Steps”(Big Gojushiho)


“Fifty-four Steps”(Little Gojushiho)

Some interesting techniques include the “Flowing Cloud Block”, the “Flowing Water Back Fist Posture”, and the “Chicken Head Wrist Block”. The kata should convey the idea of a bird attacking its foe with its beak, wings, and claws. Smooth and flowing techniques when performed well. 62 Moves
65 Moves
Unsu “Cloud Hands” The most intense and acrobatic of the 26 kata, it is arguably the most beautiful to watch. It’s ground techniques, and a 360 degree turn, leaping into the air, are indicative of it’s degree of difficulty. 48 Moves
Wankan “Kings Crown” The shortest of the 11 advanced katas, it contains smoother and lighter movements than what is typically encountered in Shotokan kata. 24 Moves
Jiin “Temple Grounds” Although more complex and difficult than “Jion”, Jiin contains many of the same movements. Where “Jion” has simple stepping movements, Jiin contains many twists and turns that add to it’s difficulty. 35 Moves




%d bloggers like this: