Probably the Most Important Shotokan Karate Kata
Kihon Kata Video Tutorial below this article
Correct practice of Kihon kata or Taikyoku Shodan is vital to shotokan karate practitioners. This karate kata only consists of two different karate moves, oizuki (stepping punch) and gedanbarai (downward block). But within these two ‘simple’ karate techniques, lay the basic fundamentals of shotokan karate.
Let us look at why kihon kata is so important to the shotokan karate dojo.
1. Shomen (Square)
2. Hanmi (Side facing)
3. Hikite (Pulling hand)
5. Kime (Focus)
6. Same Height
7. Seichusen (Centre line)
8. Embusen (Performance Line)
11.Zenktsu dachi (Front stance)
12.Oizuki (Stepping punch)
13.Gedanbarai (Downward block)
The first move in kihon kata is gedanbarai (downward block), when executing this technique, the body goes from a square (shomen) position, to a hanmi (side facing) position upon completion.
The hikite arm (pulling hand) is used strongly on every move. Work hard on developing a strong hikite.
Very basic breathing is practiced when first learning karate, so simply breathe in on the preparation of each move and out on completion, keeping the chest still and using the stomach. The stomach should push out when you breathe in and pull in when you breathe out.
There are many interpretations of kime, but for the beginner, focusing at the end of a karate technique should be a priority and when I say focus, I mean mind and body. Try to move relaxed then just as the technique lands, on the physical side, tighten the muscles, then relax immediately, still keeping form.
All through kihon kata, the same height should be maintained, try not to move up and down as you travel forward, or whilst turning and spinning.
You should be aware of your seichusan (centre line) and embusen (kata performance line) at all times. The embusen of kihon kata forms the shape of the letter I.
Once the kata techniques are understood, speed should be applied, the explosive start of each move should be practiced, not a slow start, then picking up speed as the move progresses.
Timing is different for every kata and every karateka! (we will cover timing in detail in other posts)
Zenkutsu dachi (front stance), is the foundation stance, so getting this right is essential. Try not to be to long, to short, to high, or to narrow. To begin with, the stance should be hip width, so from shizentai (natural stance), step forward with the left leg and bend the left knee so you cannot see the toes of the left foot, have the left knee roughly above the centre of the left foot. Front stance is a lot more involved than this, but this is a good starting point.
Oizuki and gedan barai are two great karate moves, that will enable you to practice all the above points, they are basic but contain all the basic fundamentals needed for good strong karate practice.