Karate: The Complete Kata


Karate is one of Japan's most revered martial traditions, and is one of the many facets of Japanese culture that hold universal appeal and have been embraced worldwide. Part of karate's appeal lies in its accessible nature as a martial art; indeed, it can be practiced by anyone regardless of age or gender, and can be undertaken at any time during a person's life.

A vital element to karate practice is to engage repeatedly in the art of kata; patterns of movement that are carefully choreographed and arranged in sequences, representing a wide range of attack and defense postures. Through mastery of the various kata forms, the karate practitioner can develop not only physically but also mentally and spiritually.

In this comprehensive new book, renowned karate master Hirokazu Kanazawa, founder of the Shotokan Karate-do International Federation and disciple of the legendary Gichin Funakoshi, the father of modern karate, traces the history of karate's twenty-seven most important kata. Combining detailed, step by step explanations with important historical contexts, Kanazawa meticulously maps out the distinct approaches to kata and the various branches of karate as it evolved from generation to generation.

The author explains in depth some of the more difficult aspects of karate for learners to master, including steps, breathing, and pressure points. Kata need to be practiced with disciplined, regular training on an individual basis, and this book is written with such training in mind.

Some 3,000 dynamic illustrations accompany the author's explanations, making this the most extensive compendium of karate's various kata in English. This book will be a welcome addition to the libraries of both beginner and advanced devotees of karate alike. It is the author's wish that this book provide an invaluable reference and learning tool for the study of kata, and that through the rigorous practice of kata, the practitioner will be able to express more than mere physical forms of attack and defense. As the author himself asserts: "Kata contain elements that offer opportunities for deep learning about physical eduction, art, history and, particularly, philosophy."

Hirokazu Kanazawa, president of Shotokan Karate-do International Federation, began practicing karate as a student at Takushoku University and, after graduation, became an instructor for the Japan Karate Association. He has taught in the United States and throughout Europe. In 1979, he founded Shotokan Karate-do International Federation, which now has branches in over 100 countries. Kanazawa is the author of "Karate Fighting Techniques," "Black Belt Karate," "Karate–My Life" and several books in Japanese on karate.

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'the karate practitioner can develop not only physically but also mentally and spiritually.' I fail to see how one can develop spiritually studying martial arts; physically yes, mentally yes. Spiritually? Guess we first must define spiritual. To develop one's control is mental conditioning. Can anyone explain?

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Kata need to be practiced with disciplined, regular training on an individual basis, and this book is written with such training in mind.

karate cannot be learnt from books, I hope the book has a DVD attached so people can see how to do the kata correctly. Also you need a teacher to see if you perform the sequences correctly and to fix the positions of your body, hands and legs.

i practised karate for about two years but finally gave up because I did not feel it was physically challenging. Neither developed me spiritually.

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Just reading that Karata book will not be sufficient for devloping spritually and physically.

In my opinion, Karate is not efficient and useful like Muay boxing or western boxing in the real world. Later is more fluid and adaptable for real combat. Late martial art legend Bruce Lee said, knowing is not enough! you must apply. willing is not enought you must do.

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" In my opinion, Karate is not efficient and useful like Muay boxing or western boxing in the real world. "

I don´t know where your real world is, but a large part of the K1 competitors have a karate background. Western boxers usually don´t last very long.

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Karate is one of Japan’s most revered martial traditions, and is one of the many facets of Japanese culture that hold universal appeal and have been embraced worldwide.

Actually Karate is Okinawan. The number of participants in Japan relative to the overall population is low and has been declining for a long time. It also has an undeservedly poor reputation -- the tough guys who just master a few moves to beat up on weaker people have given the true practitioners a bad name.

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according to Mr. Miyagi, Karate came to Okinawa from China

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Karate has very strong spirituality underpinnings which a thoughtful, educated karate sensei can explain. If you don't see it, fine.

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On a deep level, to win you have to understand your opponent and yourself. It sounds simple but it is not. It is also something(the study of this understanding of self and other) that can go very deep. If you follow this discipline to the end, you go beyond body and mind consciousness and come to awareness of the universe/existence and connectedness of the self and the other with existence. That is what most ppl would call spiritual. I don't know if the book will get you there tho.

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Kata is a complete waste of time. Much better for karate practioners to spend the time learning self defence moves, throws and ground work as in Brazilian Jujitsu. Myself, I do boxing and wrestling which I really enjoy. They give me a great work out and are useful skills.

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K1 competition has rules,round by round, break time, medical aids and judge. The real world combat or life and death struggle has no rules, no judges and no breaks. Western boxing has to match with light weight, middle weight and heavy weight in the same class by rule. In the real world, super heavy weight western boxer may match with light weight karate practitioner. It is so unfair. However it is a life.

In the real world, free flow western boxing punches are more effective than karate punches which are restricted by style and rule.

I used to visit to South East Asia. During my visits I saw "Muay or Thai boxers, Myanmar Letwei boxers and Laotian pradal serey practitioners" have matched in the rings with Karate black belts. Almost all of the black belts competitors were knocked down within first or second rounds. Kata has more conservative form and has a rigid style. However there are some limitations for adaptability, flexibility and physical toughness. It is more sport oriented than the real world.

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So which is the best: Karate, Muay Thai, Western style boxing, Tae Kwon Do, Kung-Fu, Brazilian ju-jistsu, Tai-chi chuan, Aikido, and other so called martial arts or Jeet Kun Do, founded by Bruce Lee.(Da Bomb). Most so-called martial experts I have come across were basically bullies in nature.

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If you want to train for "real life" situations, go and join drunken European football hooligans. If you want to keep your teeth and practise a martial art in a way that allows you to do it safely and continuously, you need some rules.

K1 is as close as a comparison between different stand-up fighting arts as you can get. There are couple of Muai Thai competitors who are doing well. Taekwon-do champions and Western boxers have never succeeded afaik, because both arts are too one-sided (boxing is only punching, and TKD only kicking, basically).

Karate practitioners do well, and they often go to training camps in Thailand. I don´t think the conflict that you see there really exists.

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I don´t think there is a "best". There are different styles with different philosophies, different people, and different situation. Everything is good for something. And there are no miracles. I much rather bet on someone who practises a wimpy sounding martial art daily and seriously than on some office warrior who goes to the Shaolin Temple Kung Fu class at the local sports center once a week.

Shotokan Karate is certainly a great way to stay in shape and learn some useful reflexes.

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WilliB makes some good points, Hirota. There really isn't a 'best'. There are systems of fighting distilled down to their most brutally efficient levels for pragmatic reasons, ostentatious forms more for show than practicality, sports oriented art, etc. Not only are there many variations of style with different philosophical approaches to match, but there is the individual to consider. What is their own mindset, what background or experiences do they bring with them, what body type they have, etc?

Finding a grounded, mature sensei or sifu who understands the form and philosophy, as well as individual needs, is of paramount importance. And after some years studying I have to concur with your assessment; there are alot of bullies and mouth breathers who get into martial arts for all of the wrong reasons. In the end if you are secure enough in who you are, there is no proof needed. If you are interested, please go to a doujyo and speak with the teacher there; they may even allow you to sit in on a class and observe.

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WilliB and Shaolin7 thanks for the info. However, I believe that "Love conquers all". What about rapid fire shooting and sharpshooters who train everyday as swat teams. Waht about aerobics to stay in shape?

"Peace" my brothers and sisters

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I agree that once one masters the physical aspects, the moves, the katas, mental strategy is advantagous and necessary, psyching out one's opponent out is real stuff, but still don't see any conection with spirituality. I think that's all wishful propaganda. Is chess spiritual? Nope, it's mental. Does anyone these days study all the books so popular in the 80's on the magical 'Japanese Samurai Business Management style?' NOPE! When I was a pup in the 60's I studied with Bob Alegria who was on Chuck Norris original national team in the USA. Went to school up the street from the Gracie Academy in Torrance. It was all about fitness, one's own mental condition, strategy and kickin arse, nothing spiritual at all. Then again, I don't believe in Santa either. Give me Roger Gracie, Fedor or even Brock Lesner for some real fun.

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to clarify my thoughts:

all movements used in Karate are based on confrontational situations against real or imagined physical beings, offensive or defensive in nature, blocks, kicks, punches and so forth; often accompanied by menacing guttural utterances; I admire the great practicioners as much as anyone but don't consider this to be spiritual in any way. Certain forms of music, art, ballet, even some gymnastics, yes. I guess it's splitting semantical hairs; one man's spiritual is another man's physical prowess with lots of mental conditioning thrown in.

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In Ultimate Fighting, dont they usually end up on the ground and wrestling it out one on one after all the punching and kicking? Wrestling seems the most practical skill to learn first as well as some Judo take downs. Most people can withstand a punch or two before close contact grappling starts. Thats what happens in every bar and street brawl I have seen. Just my opinion. And this applies to one on one only. I have never seen a 3 on 1 wrestling fight....that was real

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"Karate practitioners do well, and they often go to training camps in Thailand. I don´t think the conflict that you see there really exists."

You misunderstood the what I posted before. There were no open conflict between professional boxers and samurai sprited karate black belts. The modern samurai warriors toured the south east asia or indochina part of the world in 1980s and 1990s with sponsor cash. They want to experiment the tropical southern street fighting with their polished and conservative fighting art. These mixed matches were sponsored by co-operate sectors. Such as Singha Beer or hotels. Sponsors wanted to promote their brand image for commercial reason.

You can reserach in the youtube or google with open match between Thai Muay , Myanmar Lewei practioners and Karate black belts open match. In the almost all of the matches, losers are later not former. Former is more pratical and street fighting oriented. Later is conservative and rigid. I saw One karate black belt beat the Myanmar Letwei boxer once. However it is very rare. Once in thousands match.

Late Bruce Lee said, style and forms are limiting your natural instict to fight in the ral life combat. If you are thinking about which kata form will use before fight, you have already wasted some energy and time. All martial arts copied the animal form of fighting. Animals do not think and prepare for fighting. The did not attend the dojo for memorizing the techniques. However they adpated and reacted with their energy and natural insticts when the fight occur. They will use every part of their body and attack every parts of the opponent.

Karate was originated from Okinawa. Firstly it was called as chinese hands because Okinawa people adapted the chinese style fighting through marchants, monks and fishermen. When Okinawa people fought with the mainland people, they used this art however they were the one lost the war. After the defeat, They admitted themself their art is not perfect for the war or combat. The founders admitted themselves "We still need to reserch and develop for better art for fighting".

In my comparsion, South east asian boxing which was originated from Cambodia is more fluid and practical and toucher than North East Asian arts. Bruce Lee admitted by himself his fighting art of Jeet Kune Do (The art with no style) is still not perfect however it is better and more effective than conservative and rigid arts.

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The most effective art of fighting is "Fighting without fighting". Not Karate, Kung Fu, Tae Kune Do, western boxing or Muay If you have watched the "Enter the Dragon". There was a scene when the boat was sailing in the sea, one western bully boy bullied the others and challenged Bruce directly.

Bruce asked him to go inside the small boat and wait for fight on the beach. When the guy was inside the small boat, Bruce released the robe tied on the fence of the big boat and let him sink into the sea for sometimes. He controlled his rival faith without physical contact. Full of wisdom and intelligence.

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Open question: What is a recommended focus for someone just starting out, please?

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Starting out doing what?

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"Starting out doing what?"

I'm guessing karate.

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Thank you, Sarge. If there were foci in Karate one wishes they had started out concentrating on, or for that matter other martial arts with the same reflections.

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Karate Kata is really a beauty of martial-arts. I remember in the 90's when I was doing my interpreter work to World Karate Women's Competititon in Japan. Most of the ladies of Kata were really cute!! Kumite (fighting) one also good to see...Japanese ladies really excellent and South Americans and Europeans were something special. I love to see Karate Kata and Jujitsu what I am doing now.

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For realistic training for brawls, how about Canadian icehockey?

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It doesn't matter what you know or how good you are....there is always someone who knows more and is better. I laugh at the goons who turn up to the dojo and after a few months of practice think they can take on the world. Whatever it is you are doing (martial arts) be the best that you can be but keep a level head. It turns me off when dojos seem to give away black belts so they can boost that their students have succeeded much quicker than other dojos or styles. It gives a false sense of security. Give me a dojo which makes you earn your stripes any day of the week.

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