Kata is a Japanese word that means form. In karate, as in other arts, it is a choreographed series of movements designed over the years to train the participant in the technique, movement, transitions, and nuances of the given emphasis of the kata.
The following kata are the primary kata in the karate curriculum requirements for promotion. Advanced students learn other kata not listed below.
Kihon Kata: Kihon means basics in Japanese, and the Kihon Kata takes much of what the student learns in the basics of our system and compiles them into the first kata for the student to be introduced to the execution of the basics while in dynamic movement .
Pinan Katas: The Pinan katas were developed by Itosu Anko in the early 1900′s, who was a senior student of Bushi Matsumura. Itosu Sensei developed these katas to bring karate to the Okinawan school system without introducing the more complex and dangerous principle katas. His intent was to have a series of katas that enabled the student to defend themselves against all attacks. That is why Itosu Sensei called these katas Pinan; it means “Peaceful Mind”.
Naihanchi Katas: The Naihanchi katas are a very old series of katas that were reported to have been brought to Okinawa from China as one kata, that were eventually separated into three. It is believed that the famed Okinawan karate fighter, Choki Motobu, only practiced the Naihanchi katas as he believed that they contained more than enough for a dedicated karate practitioner to grow as a fierce fighter. The Naihanchi katas are known for the deep “Naihanchi stance”, and the linear pattern. It is commonly believed that one of the primary martial purposes of the katas are to teach the practitioner to be able to fight if backed against a wall. Although that ability certainly conveys through Naihanchi, I don’t believe that to be a primary purpose, if even an intended one, as their is plenty of mult-directional application in Naihanchi.
We also practice kata in our kobodo, or weapons curriculum.