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Marcus_1's picture
Kihon Kata - basic or not?

Every Karate-Ka studying Shotokan here under the KUGB are tought Kihon as the very first kata, a basic kata of 2 "basic" moves - gedan-bari and oi-zuki.

The way this has been taught (in my experience) is as a turn to left, lower block against kick then follow up with a punch to the chest, turn block kick from behind, follow up with punch to chest etc etc blah blah blah.  Yes that is a very basic description of what the techniques could be used for, however this very much depends on peopel attacking you, one from the left then one from behind while your back is turned.  In my experience, this just doesn't happen.

This video I found on youtube is a far more accurate description of the techniques used in Kihon (remember, the most "basic" of kata).  Used against a single opponent the opening moves make far more sense in the modern world don't they?

JWT's picture

Kihon Kata is not a bad Kata to cover a broad range of HAOV. :)

Ben Ryder
Ben Ryder's picture

Personally I'd skip it and study the heian in more detail.

munteanu radu
munteanu radu's picture


The Kihon Kata (known as Taikyoku in Shotokan) was created by Funakoshi Yoshitaka from Heian Shodan/Pinan Nidan as the first kata for beginners. I use Taikyoku Shodan (just this kata) to teach the beginners the H-shape of Heian Kata and also to compete at their level (beginner level-Taikyoku Shodan and Heian Shodan). Also i use this simple enbusen to train various kick/sweep tehnics.

Because Taikyoku  is a part of Heian Shodan i prefer to study the bunkai from Heian Shodan instead. IMO, all bunkai that is taught as "attack from left with mae geri / advance in zkd and block gedanbarai" and so, is a fake "bunkai" but in line with the standard JKA interpretation of basic atack/basic response but basic... inadecvate. If you are required to learn it for grad examinations or in other purposes (like bunkai for team kata) then learn them so but do not mistake them with self-defense applications.

The Pinan/Heian kata are created from advanced kata (bassai, kanku, jion.....) and were considered by Gichin Funakoshi as enough for self-defense but i don't feel the need of searching bunkai for an "exercise kata" created just for beginners to learn the H-shape.

All the best


DaveB's picture
I spent many years passionately despising Taikyoku Shodan. Only recently have I come to see it's value as a study in mechanics and evasive movement. I see it now as the Sanchin of Shotokan. I believe the whole of the method described as traditional Shotokan can be derived from this form, and much more besides. Sanchin is a very simple form used throughout a range of southern Chinese systems. It is always an exceptionally simple pattern, repeating two or three movements with basic stepping. It is used for developing one's stance/rootedness, posture and depending on the school some core concepts of the system. It is almost universally held as the pillar on which all else rests. Shuri-te based arts don't have a sanchin, but I think Funakoshi might have been trying to rectify this by making Taikyoku. I think the principles embodied in it are hugely important and underpin all the other kata, once properly unpacked from the form. You can use this kata to make the dedicated teaching of body mechanics, posture and all the other fundamentals that precede application work, kata centred. For me this should replace kihon line work by simply bolting on techniques in between the steps of the form (which in its self is a long standing philosophy of kata application that helps make forms less rigid). While it is very close in nature, Hiean Shodan (pinan nidan) doesn't quite fit the same niche; there's just too much going on that begs study of its own. Taikyoku's purity keeps your mind on the fundamentals of technique while you perform it. By then exploring the potential of the various movements, i.e. studying each sequence with different timings, inverting footwork, exploring implied angles of insertion, what happens when you hold on to the opponent, studying the components of each technique, using different types of stepping and distancing... we can find many very valuable, foundational concepts about fighting. Now it's true that you can do this with any kata. IMO it is analysis to this kind of level that enabled the masters of old to study a single kata for between 3 and 5 years as each way of deconstructing the form breaks off into many drills and methods to learn and practice and make a part of you. ...But most of us are from ryu with a minimum of 10-15 kata to learn. For each of these we likely have between 10 and 30 different applications just of the traditional overt form. Taikyoku's simplicity enables fast learning and the limited techniques and repeated sequences mean we move straight into this deep deconstruction and it's wide range of fundamental lessons. Doing so with this kata means what is in the other more advanced forms is easier to find if not plainly obvious as a variation on what we study in Kihon kata. So is Kihon kata actually more advanced than it seems. Not at all, but we should study it in order to have a more advanced understanding: To make us more advanced martial artists.
Tau's picture

munteanu radu wrote:
The Kihon Kata (known as Taikyoku in Shotokan) was created by Funakoshi Yoshitaka from Heian Shodan/Pinan Nidan as the first kata for beginners.

I graded with Taikyuku Shodan and Sandan (not Nidan!) I didn't know that Y.Funakoshi invented them although historically this would make sense. Where's your reference for this information, please?

Black Tiger
Black Tiger's picture

I think its a bit strange on the levels from "traditional" Karate compared to Jissen Karate

In my Style the first Core Kata taught to students is Shoshin No Kata Ichi

Although some schools teach this first, Nage No Kata Ichi

I created my own Taikyoku kata 1-3 for the Children's grades as 7 year old found this Shoshin kata to technical