Kata is the essential practice through which all the basic techniques were developed and applied. They are a series of pre-defined movements against a series of imaginary opponents. Movements are intended to be precise and replicated exactly by students, as they have been passed on from sensei to student for the last 100 years.
Note that there are minor variations of techniques and movements within the katas as taught by various schools and styles. Beginners need not be concerned with such variations at this time.
Goju white belts (including 10th kyu newbies, white with green stripe, yellow and blue belts) will be expect to know and perform (to the standards applicable to their rank) several kata.
Elements of those standards include:
- correct movements and turning with the stances
- keeping head/eyes level
- kiai (fighting spirit)
- proper technique
- focus of your technique
Taikyoku Series Kata (pron. tie-kee-oh-koo)
White belts in the Yamaguchi Goju-Kai (from which my training was derived) begin their training with a series of katas, all with the same floor pattern (a capital I), known as the Taikyoku series, to teach basic techniques, movements across the floor and turning.
Created by Gichin Funakoshi (founder of Shotokan) and Gogen Yamaguchi (appointed by Chojun Miyagi to head of the Japanese arm of goju-ryu), these are a good place to start. They will allow you to focus on basic stances and techniques without adding too much complexity to your movement.
Please note there are two different versions of each kata to learn. They are distinguished by the number 1 or 2 (or as here, their Roman numeral equivalents) following the name. The numbers are pronounced “ichi” for 1 and “ni” for 2.
- Taikyoku Jodan I & II
- Taikyoku Chudan I & II
- Taikyoku Gedan I & II
- Taikyoku Kake Uke I & II
- Taikyoku Mawashi Uke I & II
Pages for these kata can be accessed through the links above or from the main menu. In the meantime, you can see (and begin practicing) several of them as demonstrated by this young man here:
Traditional Goju-Ryu Kata
There are 12 kata comprising the Goju Ryu system of traditional karate instruction. Click on the name to view it being performed.
The two Gekisai katas are required for white belts in our system. Saifa and Sanchin are also introduced at blue belt level for those who demonstrate readiness for more advanced work.
More examples of these kata can be found in our Kata forum.
Nevertheless, we do not recommend beginners start with these. Instead, focus at first upon the Taikyoku series of kata listed above that were added after Higaonna and Miyagi taught these.