This page provides free written & video instructions for Shotokan katas and will prepare you for your next Karate belt test. You will find detailed instructions for a wide variety of Shotokan Karate kata and kihon. We also provide you with the meaning of Shotokan Karate kata because many Shotokan schools test their students on these kata meanings. If you need to learn the Japanese words used in Shotokan kata, please visit the Shotokan terminology section.
Shotokan kata also includes JKA kata. JKA (Japan Karate Association) is the one of the largest & oldest Shotokan organizations. Unfortunately, over the years, a number of groups have broken off from the JKA and this has lead to some differences in kata and techniques.
For information on the katas of other Karate styles (i.e. Wado-Ryu katas or Kyokushin katas), please visit the main Black Belt Wiki section on Katas & Forms.
Wiki – Best Shotokan Books
Shotokan Karate Katas – Click on pages below for kata videos and/or written instructions
“Kihon” Shotokan Katas – These introductory katas are used by some Shotokan schools.
- Shotokan – Taikyoku Shodan
- Shotokan – Taikyoku Nidan
- Shotokan – Taikyoku Sandan
- Shotokan – Taikyoku Yondan – Less frequently used
- Shotokan – Taikyoku Godan – Less frequently used
- Shotokan – Taikyoku Rokudan – Less frequently used
“Official” Shotokan Karate Katas
- Heian Shodan – Shotokan Kata 1 – This is the first “official” kata used at many Shotokan schools.
- Heian Nidan – Shotokan Kata 2
- Heian Sandan – Shotokan Kata 3
- Heian Yondan – Shotokan Kata 4
- Heian Godan – Shotokan Kata 5
- Tekki Shodan
- Tekki Nidan
- Tekki Sandan
- Bassai Dai
- Bassai Sho
- Kanku Dai
- Kanku Sho
- Enpi or Empi
- Gojushiho Dai
- Gojushiho Sho
Additional Kata Used By Some Shotokan Schools & Organizations
- Asai Katas (i.e. Junro kata)
- Gankaku Sho – This kata is not used by all Shotokan schools & organizations.
- Kato Katas
- Niju Hachi Ho – This kata is not used by all Shotokan schools & organizations.
- Shotokan Wheelchair Kata
How many katas are in Shotokan Karate?
Traditionally, there are 26 Shotokan katas. However, if in doubt, check with your Sensei/Instructor because some Shotokan Karate schools use slightly different kata formats and/or include additional katas from other Karate styles into their curriculum. Moreover, after the first eight katas, many Shotokan Karate schools have their kata in different orders/sequences based on the preference of the school’s Sensei.
Why is kata important?
Many different Karate styles use kata in order to help students practice certain moves (i.e. kicking techniques, self-defense techniques and various strikes) as well as for improving a student’s physical conditioning, muscle memory, focus/concentration, balance, etc. Whereas some martial arts question the value of kata, most Karate schools think that kata is an essential tool in order to train karate students. For additional kata reasons and benefits, you should read our sections focused on Is Kata Useful or Useless? and the Benefits of Forms, Patterns & Kata.
To master kata, martial arts students should try to imagine that they are fighting an imaginary opponent. This allows students to practice “offensive” and “defensive” techniques (i.e. strike the imaginary opponent’s neck at the correct height and angle) versus just going through the motions in order to pass a belt test.
What does Shotokan mean?
Shotokan is Japanese for House (or Hall) of Pine Waves. Shoto means “pine waves” or the movement of pine branches as the wind bows through the trees. Shotokan was the name of the first dojo built by the founder of Shotokan Karate, Gichin Funakoshi.
What does kata mean?
Kata is the Japanese word used for form. Kata is a series of standardized movements or forms that Karate students use in order to practice “offensive” and “defensive” techniques without a partner. In addition, Karate students must perform the kata movements correctly in order to pass belt tests. Beyond helping Karate students to practice kicks and strikes, kata is also used by instructors to improve a student’s physical conditioning, muscle memory, focus/concentration, balance, etc.
Is Shotokan Karate effective?
Shotokan Karate can be an effective means of learning self-defense. This Japanese martial arts style teaches kicks, strikes, sparring (kumite), self-defense techniques, etc. However, like all martial arts, the effectiveness of Shotokan Karate depends on the commitment of the student, the skill of the instructor and the focus of the Shotokan school. Shotokan Karate training will be ineffective as a means of learning self-defense if the student rarely goes to class, the student does not regularly practice, the teacher is a poor instructor, the Shotokan school does not provide frequent self-defense sessions, the self-defense training is unrealistic, etc.
Step-By-Step Instructional Video for Shotokan Kata – Heian Shodan
Shotokan Katas Image Provided by Wikimedia Commons