Katas are exercises designed to transfer the Karate from one generation to the next, in which the various pre-determined techniques are applied in a certain order. From simple basic combinations to difficult and detailed combinations, the Kata’s vary by generation level, increasing levels of difficulty. It is not possible for Karate-ka to keep the technical level and Karate quality high until the end of his life.
The Shotokan Katas, some of which are named Gichin Funakoshi, are 26:
The Heians, who were created relatively recently, were first referred to as Pinan in their pronunciation of the Chinese meaning in the Okinawa language. When introduced to Japan, Master Funakoshi chose to use Heian as a Japanese pronunciation. White belt to Blue Belt, the first 5 Katas should be learned in between. These are the most basic Katas.
平安初段 Heian Shodan
Peaceful, First Level
平安二段 Heian Nidan
Peaceful, Second Level
平安三段 Heian Sandan
Peaceful, Third Level
平安四段 Heian Yondan
Peaceful, Fourth Level
平安五段 Heian Godan
Peaceful, Fifth Level
In the beginning Okinawa, known as Naihanchi, was renamed Master Funakoshi for recognition in Japan to reflect the power exhibited with the kiba-dachi. Tekki Katas, which is very rich in war techniques, offers many melee techniques.
鉄騎初段 Tekki Shodan
Iron horse riding, first level
鉄騎弐段 Tekki Nidan
Iron horse riding, second level
鉄騎参段 Tekki Sandan
Iron horse riding, third level
Advanced (Super) Katas:
披塞大 Bassai Dai (Capturing the Castle – Great)
The strong techniques of this kata emphasize hip movement. The techniques are likened to a battering ram against the castle walls.
慈恩 Jion (Love and Goodness)
Jion is a term in Buddhism. It is also the name of a temple in China. Uses basic postures and techniques. It is one of the most traditional Katas in Shotokan.
燕飛 Enpi (Flying Swallow)
This kata’s up and down movements resemble a flying swallow. Enpi is one of the oldest Katas in Shotokan. His old name was Wanshu.
半月 Hangetsu (Half-Moon)
He took his name from this stance (Dachi) – hangetsu dachi (Half-moon stance).
観空大 Kanku Dai (Looking at the Sky – Big)
Most of the parts of Heian Katas were derived from this kata. The first move on this floor is the sky, which symbolizes the universe and shows your opponent that you are unarmed. He was the favorite Kata of Master Funakoshi.
披塞小 Bassai Sho (Capturing the Castle – Small)
This Kata is derived from Bassai-Dai. Has a similar performance line and movements.
観空小 Kanku Sho (Looking at the Sky – Small)
This Kata is derived from Kanku-Dai. Has a similar performance line and movements.
五十四歩大 Goju Shi Ho Dai (Fifty Four Steps – Big)
This is one of the most advanced katas of Shotokan. Master Funakoshi used to call hotaku (woodpecker). He likened the techniques to the use of a pecker’s beak.
五十四歩小 Goju Shi Ho Sho (Fifty Four Steps – Small)
This is a smaller version of Goju Shi Ho Dai. It is also one of Shotokan’s most advanced Katas.
慈陰 Jiin (Love and Shadow)
Jiin is another term in Buddhism. It has similar techniques and performance lines as Jion.
十手 Jitte (Ten Hands)
The goal of this kata is to teach a student to fight with ten opponents. This is a strong kata similar to jion and Jiin.
明鏡 Meikyo (Bright Mirror)
The first movements of this kata suggest smoothening of the water and even as a mirror. The triangle jumping at the end of this kata is said to have a hidden meaning that represents a miracle.
二十四步 Niju Shi Ho (Twenty Four Steps)
The movements on this floor resemble the waves that are broken by the cliff. The old name of this kata was ni sei shi.
王冠 Wankan (King and the Crown)
Wankan is the shortest kata in Shotokan.
岩鶴 Gankaku (Crane on the Rock)
The main stance in this kata (sagi ashi dachi) looks like a crane ready to make his prey. Movements are said to play a fight in the narrow passages of Okinawa. The old name of this kata was Chinto.
壯鎭 Sochin (Strong and Calm)
This name comes from a strong, rooted stance (sochin dachi). The purpose of this kata is to teach defense with a stick. His old name was Hakko.
珍手 Chinte (Rare Hand)
Chinte has many circular and circular techniques. These are rare and do not fit the concept of Shotokan’s shortest distance between two points.
雲手 Unsu (Cloud Hands)
Unsu has various techniques that symbolize the separation of clouds with open hands. It is also one of Shotokan’s most advanced katas.