The Meanings of Karate-Do Kata


  • Ananku:
    Light from the South. A Tomari Te Kata with similarities to Gojushiho.
  • Ansan
    Defense three ways or Keeping safe three ways. A kata from the Tomari Te linage.
  • Aoyagi:
    Green Willow. One of two kata of self-defense one version of the kata is for women. developed by Mabuni Sensei.
  • Bassai-dai:
    Bassai-dai is probably the most popular kata among various branches of karate. It is often used as the main test kata for Shodan (1st degree black belt). Master Sakagami of the Itosukai cites 5 different varieties in his book: "Itosu, Matsumura, Tomari, Oyadomari, and Ishimine".
  • Bassai-sho:
    To penetrate a small fortress (minor) This is a unique kata in that it depicts defense against a staff (bo).
  • Chinte:
    Extraordinary Hands. Some believe this Kata came from Mabuni Sensei. Classified in the same series as Chinto, which stemmed from the Shuri region.This kata contains a two finger strike to the eyes.
  • Chinto:
    Fighting to the East. shipwrecked Chinese sailor named Chinto hid in caves by day and at night would sneak into the villages to steal food for survival. The villagers complained to the king who sent his best samurai, Matsumura, to capture the sailor. Matsumura tracked Chinto to the cave where he was living. When he confronted him, Chinto refused to surrender. In the pursuant fight, Chinto blocked and out- fought the samurai. Matsumura returned to the king and reported that there would be no more trouble from the man. Then he went back to the cave and befriended Chinto, who in turn taught him his system, including the kata now known as Chinto. The Itosukai version was developed by Itosu Sensei from the Tomari style's version. Open-hand strikes and blocks and a double-flying kick. Gankaku is the Shotokan version (crane on a rock)
  • Gojushiho:
    54 Steps. A Kata from Itosu Sensei. This kata was popular among the warriors in the Shuri Reigion. This was one of Kenwa Mabuni Sensei's favorite kata.
  • Haku Cho:
    White Moon. A White Crane Kata of the Hakutsuru line from Itosu Sensei. These Kata were taught by Go Ken Ki Sensei.
  • Hangetsu:
    Half Moon. Short kata that resembles the seisan kata from the Naha Te linage.
  • Ishimine Bassai:
    To Penetrate a Fortress This kata is very similar to the Itosu Bassai-dai.
  • Jin no Kata:
    Kata of the People. 16 kata developed by Shogo Kuniba Sensei for the practice of the kehons.
  • Jitte, Jiin, Jion:
    The Temple Kata, Hand, Ground, and Sound or Bell. Three kata from the Tomari region of Okinawa. All three begin with the left hand poised over the right fist at Adam's apple level, reminiscent of Chinese kempo. heavy use is made of the shiko-dachi stance.
  • Juroku:
    16 hands. Kata from Mabuni Sensei inspired with the help of Myiagi Sensei.
  • Kururunfa:
    Seventeen (17) from the Higannona Naha-te linage.
  • Kusanku-dai (Kosokun-dai, Kanku-dai):
    These were named after the founder, and taken from the original kata Chatan. It is also said these kata were named viewing the sky due to the initial move. This kata was brought to Okinawa by a military officer in 1762. It was popular in the Shuri region of Okinawa.
  • Kusanku-sho (Kosokun-sho):
    Minor version. This version was developed by Itosu Sensei
  • Matsukaze:
    Wind through the Pines, or Pine in the wind. A Tomari Te kata.
  • Matsumura Bassai:
    To penetrate a fortress. This kata was passed on from Tawada Sensei to Chibana Sensei.
  • Matsumura Seisan:
    Thirteen hands. A kata of the Higashionna style from the Naha region.
  • Matsumora Rohai:
    Vision of the White Heron or crane. Another kata of the Matsumora style from the Tomari region.
  • Naifanchin (Naihanshin) Shodan, Naifanchin Nidan, Naifanchin Sandan (Naifanshin 1-3):
    Holding your ground or Iron Horse, due to the deep powerful stances. Three very fast, powerful kata in which the movement all in a side to side direction.
  • Nipaipo:
    28 steps, or 28 hands. A White Crane Kata from the Hiagahonna linage.
  • Niseishi:
    24 hands. This kata stems from the Aragaki style. It is a short kata with a feint to the eyes followed by a takedown.
  • Pinan shodan, Pinan nidan, Pinan sandan, Pinan yondan, Pinan godan (Pinan 1-5):
    Peaceful Mind Kata. It is said once one has mastered the 5 Pinan Kata they could walk the street with a peaceful mind, as they contained all self defense. These kata were developed by Itosu Sensei to make learning the long and difficult kata known as Kusanku-dai (also known as Kanku-dai, and Kosokun-dai) easier to learn and parts of this intricate kata are broken down into 5 parts of varying difficulty. There were originaly 8 Kata, but some were lost to time.
  • Rohai Shodan, Rohai Nidan, Rohai Sandan:
    Vision of the White Heron. Three graceful kata in which the Sagiashidachi stance (heron stance) where balance is taken on one leg is used (Rohai-shodan), both hands are used to simulateously strike (Rohai- nidan. All three feature the shiko-dachi and tsuriachi-dachi stance coupled with the open-handed kaki-te uke.
  • Saifa:
    Final Break, to tear or smash. A kata which has its roots in the kata, Gekisai. It contains many techniques for fighting at close range.
  • Sanchin:
    Three Battles. A basic kata of the Higashionna style, this kata's regulated breathing and concentration make it an indispensible kata for learning the basics of breathing, movement, and focus with dynamic tension.
  • Seienchin:
    Calm within the storm. from the Higashionna style. It begins with the shiko stance and slow, regulated breathing. .
  • Seipai:
    Eighteen Hands, The roots of this kata are the 18 basics of the Southern style of Shorinken.
  • Seisan:
    Thirteen hands. One of the shorter katas of the Naha branch of karate. There is also a Version used by Shogo Kuniba of the Motobu Ha Shito Ryu
  • Shiho Kusanku (Shiho Kosokun):
    Direction big. This version was also developed by Itosu Sensei. Shiho means "4 directions" in Japanese and, is indicative of the directions of movement in this kata. It has fewer steps than Kusanku-dai.
  • Shiho no ho (shihono kata):
    Kata of 4 directions. A Kata from the Motobu Ha Shito Ryu of Shogo Kuniba Sensei for the practice of the zenkutsu dachi and kehon blocks and punches.
  • Shinpa:
    New break or tear. Kata from Mabuni Sensei.
  • Shinsei:
    Pure Heart. Kata from Mabuni Sensei believed to be taken from Gekisai ichi.
  • Shisochin: 4 direction Battle also referred to as Snake Hands. It is of Fukien White Crane origin, and was taught to Kanryo Higashionna by Ryu Ryu Ko. Similar to Sanchin, except that this kata makes almost exclusive use of open handed strikes.
  • Sochin:
    four calm monks. Another favorite kata of Master Mabuni. The changes in speed of execution make this a very interesting kata.
  • Su-pa-rinnpei:
    108. A very long kata with 108 moves, from the Higashionna style. The most advanced kata in most systems.
  • Ten no kata:
    Kata of the Heavens. A kata of Funakoshi Sensei similar to the basic Fukyu katas of Okinawa.
  • Tensho:
    Rolling Palms. A kata from Miyagi Senesi using sanchin dachi open hands and breathing techniques.
  • Wankan:
    Kings Crown. A kata of the Matsumora style from the Tomari region.
  • Wanshu:
    There are two types of the kata "Wanshu": the "Matsumora version" and the "Itosu version".
  • Unshu:
    Cloud Hands. Another kata from the Aragaki style, the one finger pokes (ippon nukite).