Shotokan Karate Kata

Kata is often described as a set sequence of karate moves organized into a pre-arranged fight against imaginary opponents. The kata consists of kicks, punches, sweeps, strikes, blocks, and throws. Body movement in various kata includes stepping, twisting, turning, dropping to the ground, and jumping. In Shotokan, kata is not a performance or a demonstration, but is for individual karateka to practice full techniques—with every technique potentially a killing blow; while paying particular attention to form and timing (rhythm).
Shotokan Karate is comprised of 26 katas, each with their own emphasis on fast and slow or controlled and powerfull movements. Virtually all of the katas taught today in the Shotokan system have two kiai points.

The kiai or “spirit cry” as it is sometimes referred to, occurs only at certain pre-determined moments in each kata. It is precisely at these pre-determined moments that the karate-ka is required to demonstrate a total commitment of body, mind, and spirit, and to channel all of their available energy and apply it appropriately to the required technique. The kiai is a common thread that runs through all major styles of karate.

It is important for every student to remember that as they rise up through the various kyu levels and Dan ranks, the continued regular practice of all of the previous katas that they have been taught is vital to their future progress.


The following is a list of all 26 katas, number of moves, meaning and a demonstration video.

Kata Video # of Moves Meaning
Heian Shodan Heian Shodan 21 “Peaceful Mind One”
Heian Nidan Heian Nidan 26 “Peaceful Mind Two”
Heian Sandan Heian Sandan 20 “Peaceful Mind Three”
Heian Yondan Heian Yondan 27 “Peaceful Mind Four”
Heian Godan Heian Godan 23 “Peaceful Mind Five Universe”
Tekki Shodan Tekki Shodan 23 “Iron Horse One”
Tekki Nidan Tekki Nidan 24 “Iron Horse Two”
Tekki Sandan Tekki Sandan 26 “Iron Horse Three”
Bassai Dai Bassai-Dai 42 “Penetrating the Fortress-Big”
Bassai Sho Bassai Sho 27 “Penetrating the Fortress – Small”
Kanku Dai Kanku Dai 65 “To look at the Sky – Big”
Kanku Sho Kanku Sho 48 “To look at the Sky – Small”
Empi Empi 37 “Flying Swallow”
Jion Jion 47 “Love (and) Goodness”
Gankaku Gankaku 42 “Crane on the Rock”
Hangetsu Hangetsu 41 “Half Moon”
Jitte Jitte 24 “Ten Hands”
Chinte Chinte 32 “Incredible Hands”
Sochin Sochin 41 “Preserve Peace”
Meikyo Meikyo 33 “Mirror of the soul”
Jiin Jiin 38 “Named after the Saint”
Gojushiho Dai Gojushiho Dai 67 “54 Steps – Big”
Gojushiho Sho Gojushiho Sho 65 “54 Steps – Small”
Nijushiho Nijushiho 24 “24 Steps”
Wankan Wankan 24 “Crown of a king”
Unsu Unsu 48 “Cloud Hands”