13 Shotokan Kata Tips

To Take Your Kata To The Next Level

Here are some Shotokan kata tips to help with your training. They are in no particular order and if you have any other tips, please leave a message on our Facebook page.

I know it’s the dreaded number 13, but many Chinese believe 13 to be a lucky number 🙂

Hope you find them beneficial. Oss!

1. Relax. Once you have the techniques and order of a kata, try not to move in a robotic fashion. Your kata should be strong, but it should also flow.

2. Ikken Hissatsu. Always try to apply the concept of Ikken Hissatsu (to kill with one blow). I know it sounds extreme, so I refer to the concept as ‘to finish with one blow’.

3. Spirit. The feeling of never quitting, the feeling that your life is on the line with every karate move. Spirit can also be grouped with number 2 Ikken Hissatsu.

4. Speed. I always practice three speeds when practicing kata. 1. Slow, working on technique 2. lightly, working on rhythm and timing. 3. maximum speed, working on nothing, just doing!

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5. Power. Strong powerful techniques within the kata, requires the sun, moon and stars to align 🙂 Balance, relaxation before the strike, mental readiness, speed, breathing, timing and technique, all must come together on the impact of any strike! Get these right and you will have your power.

6. Zanshin. Remaining spirit. Do not focus so much on one technique that you are unaware of everything else around you.

7. Breathing. Your breathing should be silent throughout the kata.

8. Facial Expression. Your face should be calm and still throughout the kata, no expression.

9. Slow Moves. the slow karate moves in a kata are as important as the fast moves! An explanation I will always remember was from a top Sensei who said, ‘for the slow moves like in Heian Godan, when you get to the slow haishu uke (back hand block) in kiba dachi (straddle or horse riding stance), imagine you are a wild animal stalking it’s prey, like a tiger creeping through the long grass, watching it’s prey, just before it pounces!’ A great explanation on getting the right mindset for the slow moves.

10. Kime. (focus/stop). After each karate move in the kata, try and stop completely still for a split second.

11. Timing. Every karate kata has it’s own rhythm and timing. Pay attention to the rhythm and timing of a kata and combine it with your own unique timing and your karate kata will excel.

12. Applications. It’s very important to understand the meaning of each karate move within the kata. Bunkai means analysis or disassembly of the Kata into short sequences. Oyo means to apply your application ideas on and with a partner. The two ways we practice are Oyo as the moves are in the kata, which normally involves karate technique attacks from your partner. Then self defence oyo, with your partner throwing haymakers, head butts, swinging leg kicks instead of karate kicks, etc.

13. Technique. Many karateka put the most emphasise on their technique, but without all the other elements we have been talking about, the kata would just be hollow and empty!

‘Spirit First, Technique Second’ Master Gichin Funakoshi.


Shotokan kata tips to help your karate get better and will continue to add more as time goes by. Oss!

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Linden Huckle

About the author

Linden Huckle has been practicing and teaching karate for over 50 years and believes first and foremost, karateka should enjoy their karate. He says 'there is nothing better than seeing a person develop into a great person through their karate practice, while at the same time enjoying karate.'

Linden Huckle