Complete Karate Kata List of 10 Different Karate Styles

karate kata list, karate kata

Karate Kumite, or sparring, is flashy and gets a lot of attention. Many a Karateka from white to black belt chomps at the bit for their chance to prove their stuff during free sparring. 

However, Kumite is only one of the three fundamental Ks of Karate — Kumite, Kihon, and Kata.

While most students are thrilled at the prospect of training Kumite, fewer get excited about learning Kata. But if you want to become a formidable Karateka, mastering the Kata is an important part of your journey. 

Let’s understand more about Kata, then dive into the various Katas that are used in different styles of Karate. 

What Is Kata?

A Kata is a pre-choreographed set of moves the student learns. Katas are not designed to simulate a real fight, but rather put moves and techniques together. 

For the vast majority of martial arts history, you couldn’t pull out a cell phone and make a video so you don’t forget a technique. Instead, the techniques were put together and practiced in Katas to serve as a living library of sorts. 

Practicing Kata is also a very effective way of training. Instead of speed, the aim of Kata is to perform each technique intentionally and flawlessly. Stances are often deep to aid in strength conditioning. Finally, the practitioner is expected to let their fighting spirit shine through with the strength of their techniques and Kiai (Karate yell). 

What Does Kata Mean?

The word Kata in Japanese means “forms” and isn’t exclusive to Karate or martial arts as you might think. Elements of Kata appear in many types of Japanese martial arts, including theatre and tea ceremonies. 

Kata Origin

Despite being a large part of Japanese culture, Kata didn’t originate in Japan. The practice traces its roots back to Chinese Kung Fu masters that predate Karate. 

Trying to depict the techniques through paintings or descriptive words proved to be challenging. Thus, the masters developed intricate Kata to string techniques together and showcase all elements of Karate. This included punches, strikes, kicks, blocks, footwork, and even breathing techniques. 

When Chinese families came to settle in Okinawa, they brought this practice with them. Eventually, it became a part of the melting pot that is Okinawan martial arts, which eventually became Karate.

karate kata list, karate kata

Basic Karate Katas

Now that you understand a bit about the katas themselves, let’s dive into the different styles. Over the years since Gichin Funakoshi introduced Karate to the world outside Okinawa, different styles of Karate have spun off. 

Each style has its own Kata list, though some Katas appear on multiple lists. Let’s look at a handful of the most common Karate styles and their Katas here.

Karate Kata List

Shotokan Karate Kata List

Shotokan is one of the most popular styles of Karate. There are 26 Shotokan Katas.

Kata Name EnglishKata Name JapaneseNumber of Moves
Peaceful Mind 1Heian Shodan21
Peaceful Mind 2Heian Nidan26
Peaceful Mind 3Heian Sandan20
Peaceful Mind 4Heian Yondan27
Peaceful Mind 5Heian Godan23
Iron Horse 1Tekki Shodan23
Iron Horse 2Tekki Nidan24
Iron Horse 3Tekki Sandan26
Penetrating the Fortress – BigBassai Dai42
Penetrating the Fortress – SmallBassai Sho27
To look at the Sky – BigKanku Dai65
To look at the Sky – SmallKanku Sho48
Flying SwallowEnpi37
Love (and) GoodnessJion47
Crane on the RockGankaku42
Half MoonHangetsu41
Ten HandsJitte24
Incredible HandsChinte32
Preserve PeaceSochin41
Mirror of the SoulMeikyo33
Named after the SaintJiin38
54 Steps – BigGojushiho Dai67
54 Steps – SmallGojushiho Sho65
24 StepsNijushiho24
Crown of a KingWankan24
Cloud HandsUnsu48

Goju Ryu Karate Kata List

Kata Name EnglishKata Name JapaneseNumber of MovesMeaning/Notes
Basic #1Kihon Dai Ichi
Basic #2Kihon Dai Ni
Introduction to Destroy #1Gekisai Dai Ichi
Introduction to Destroy #2Gekisai Dai Ni
To Destroy by Pounding/PulverizingSaifa20Also known as “To Move like the Wind” 
To Control and Pull in BattleSeiunchin
Four Directional BattleShisochinAlso called “To Destroy in Four Directions
36 Hands/TechniquesSanseru
18 Hands/TechniquesSepaiAlso found in Monk Boxing
Holding and Striking SuddenlyKururunfa
13 Hands/TechniquesSeisan13
108 Hands/TechniquesSuparunpeiMaster Kata in Goju-Ryu that represents the 108 sins of man
Rotating PalmsTensho
3 BattlesSanchinSymbolizes the conflict found between body, spirit, and mind

Shito Ryu Karate Kata List

Kata Name EnglishKata Name JapaneseMeaning/Notes
Shito Ryu KataJunino Kata
Shito Ryu KataTen no Kata
Shito Ryu KataChi no Kata
Shito Ryu KataDaini Dosa
Shito Ryu KataDaisan Dosa
Shito Ryu KataDaiyon Dosa
6 Ways of Elbow StrikeRoppo Hijiate
Peaceful Mind 1Heian Shodan
Peaceful Mind 2Heian Nidan
Peaceful Mind 3Heian Sandan
Peaceful Mind 4Heian Yondan
Peaceful Mind 5 Heian Godan
Pure BrightnessMyojo
Green WillowAoyagiWillow symbolizes supple, yet strong — a quality of women
Surreptitious Steps 1Naihanchi Shodan
Surreptitious Steps 2Naihanchi Nidan
Surreptitious Steps 3Naihanchi Sandan
Three Battles Sanchin
Rotating Palms, Elegant HandsTensho
Break a FortressBassai Sho1st Dan
Break a Fortress SmallBassai Dai1st Dan
24 StepsNiseishi1st Dan
Lull in the StormSeienchin2nd Dan
Thirteen HandsSeisan2nd Dan
Pine Tree WindMatsukaze2nd Dan
Eighteen HandsSeipai3rd Dan
Chinese Envoy NameKosokun Sho3rd Dan
Chinese Envoy NameKosokun Dai3rd Dan
Four Directions of KosokunShiho Kosokun3rd Dan
Curious HandsChintei4th Dan
Strong CalmnessSochin4th Dan
Fighting to the EastChinto4th Dan
Thirty-Six HandsSanseiru4th Dan
The Name of Chinese EnvoyTomari no Wanshu4th Dan
Shito Ryu KataAnnan5th Dan
Warrior’s Grand CalmnessShisochin5th Dan
Cloud HandUnshu5th Dan
Seventeen, Holding Your GroundKururunfa5th Dan
Tomari BassaiTomari Bassai5th Dan
White BearPaiku5th Dan
54 StepsGojushiho6th Dan
Black BearHeiku6th Dan
28 StepsNipaipo6th Dan
White SwanHaffa6th Dan
Shito Ryu KataHakkaku6th Dan
Eight StepsPapuren6th Dan
One Hundred HandsSuparimpei6th Dan
From the Chatanyara VillageChatanyara no Kusanku6th Dan

Wado Ryu Karate Kata List

Kata Name EnglishKata Name JapaneseNumber of MovesMeaning/Notes
Wado Ryu KataTaikyokuPreliminary exercise before learning basic kata
Peace 1st LevelPin’an Shodan26A series of 5 katas created by Anko Itosu
Peace 2nd LevelPin’an Nidan
Peace 3rd LevelPin’an Sandan
Peace 4th LevelPin’an Yondan
Peace 5th LevelPin’an Godan
Sky ViewingKushanku
Sideways FightingNaihanchi
13 HandsSeishan13Movements are repeated in sets of 3
To Thrust AsunderPassai
Name of a Shipwrecked SailorChintoLots of crane stance in this kata
Vision of a White HeronRohai
24 StepsNiseishi
Flying SwallowWanshuThe name comes from blocking techniques
Temple SoundJion
10 HandsJitte
108 HandsSuparinpeiRepresents the 108 evil spirits of man
Paired Kata
Paired Wado Ryu KataYakusoku Kihon Kumite10
Paired Wado Ryu KataKumite Gata10-24
Paired Wado Ryu KataOhyo Kumitevaries
Paired Wado Ryu KataIdori no Kata5-10
Paired Wado Ryu KataTantodori no Kata7-10
Paired Wado Ryu KataShinken Shirahadori5-10

Shorin Ryu Karate Kata List

Kata Name EnglishKata Name JapaneseNumber of MovesMeaning/Notes
Promotional Kata 1Fukyugata IchiOriginally developed as a promotional kata
Promotional Kata 2Fukyugata NiOriginally developed as a promotional kata
Peace Kata 1Pinan Shodan
Peace Kata 2Pinan Nidan
Peace Kata 3Pinan Sandan
Peace Kata 4Pinan Yondan
Peace Kata 5Pinan Godan
Horse Riding Kata 1Naihanchi Shodan
Horse Riding Kata 2Naihanchi Nidan
Horse Riding Kata 3Naihanchi Sandan
Ten GodsAnakuCharacterized by strong power movements
Kings CrownWankanElegant, yet powerful
Shorin Ryu KataRohai27
Name of the Chinese EnvoyWanshuCharacterized by hidden fist punches
Shorin Ryu KataPassaiCharacterized by knife-hand techniques
54 StepsGojushihoSpear-hand techniques and movements reminiscent of a drunken man
Shorin Ryu KataChintoFlying kick and diagonal movements
Name of the martial artistKusankuThis is the longest and most difficult kata. Can take a decade of practice to master

Kyokushin Karate Kata List

Kata Name EnglishKata Name Japanese
Grand Ultimate 1Taikyoku Sono Ichi
Grand Ultimate 2Taikyoku Sono Ni
Grand Ultimate 3Taikyoku Sono San
Grand Ultimate Kicking 1Sokugi Taikyoku Sono Ichi
Grand Ultimate Kicking 2Sokugi Taikyoku Sono Ni
Grand Ultimate Kicking 3Sokugi Taikyoku Sono San
Relax 1Pinan Sono Ichi
Relax 2Pinan Sono Ni
Relax 3Pinan Sono San
3 BattlesSanchin
Relax 4Pinan Sono Yon
Relax 5Pinan Sono Go
Conquer and OccupyGekisai Dai
Conquer and OccupyGekisai Sho
Keep PureYantsu
Thrust or PunchTsuki No Kata
Rotating PalmsTensho
To Destroy by PoundingSaiha or Saifa
To Look at the SkyKanku Dai or Kanku
Grip and Pull into BattleSeienchin
54 StepsSushiho
Reclining DragonGaryu

Uechi Ryu Karate Kata List

Kata Name EnglishKata Name JapaneseMeaning/Notes
Three Fights or ConflictsSanchinConflict of the Mind, Body, and Spirit
Uechi Ryu Kata 2Kanishiwa
Uechi Ryu Kata 3Kanshu
Ten Fights or ConflictsSeichin
ThirteenSeisan13 modes of attack and defense
Uechi Ryu Kata 7Kanchin
Thirty-SixSanseirui36 modes of attack and defense

Shuri Ryu Karate Kata List

Kata Name EnglishKata Name JapaneseNumber of MovesMeaning/Notes
H Form KataTai Kyoku 22Created by Gichin Funakoshi and his son as introductory movements for learning the Pinan Kata later
Strong Arm-Dumping Wunsu
Swallow on the Beach, Pivoting FormAnaku33Mimics a bird turning and looking
Iron Horse Missing EnemyNai Han Chi 49
Three Conflicts/Three Battles of LifeSanchin47Refers to birth, survival, and death
Flying Swallow or First ElbowEmpi Sho34
Breaking through the FortressBassai Dai 55Also known as Breaking the Gian Enemies Circle
Advanced Tearing PeacockGo Pei Sho56Represents a fighting peacock
Cutting and Clawing through the FireDan Enn Sho39
Smooth water and Difficult VictoryNan Dan Sho51The Japanese call this kata Nijushoshi ( 24 Steps)
Flowing Lagoon and Looking at the SkyKan Ku Sho
Monastery Monk – Advanced Breathing ExerciseShudo-SoBased on the breathing exercises of the Shaolin Monks
Thousand Hands – Heaven BreathTen ShoAlso called “The Kata of the Universe” or “Earth Reflecting Heaven”

Shudokan Karate Kata List

Kata Name EnglishKata Name Japanese
Shudokan Kata Empi Taki
Shudokan Kata Empi Iwa
Shudokan Kata Penpei
Shudokan Kata Penpo
Shudokan Kata Shimpa Tan
Shudokan Rohai 1Rohai Shodan
Shudokan Rohai 2Rohai Nidan
Shudokan Rohai 3Rohai Sandan
Shudokan Kata Seiru
Shudokan KataAnanku
Shudokan Pinan 1Pinan Shodan
Shudokan Pinan 2Pinan Nidan
Shudokan Pinan 3Pinan Sandan
Shudokan Pinan 4Pinan Yondan
Shudokan Pinan 5Pinan Godan
Shudokan Kyoku 1Kyoku Shodan
Shudokan Kyoku 2Kyoku Nidan
Shudokan Kyoku 3Kyoku Sandan
Shudokan Kyoku 4Kyoku Yondan
Shudokan Kyoku 5Kyoku Godan
Shudokan Kyoku 6Kyoku Rokudan

Isshin Ryu Karate Kata List

Kata Name EnglishKata Name JapaneseNumber of MovesMeaning/Notes
Isshin Ryu Kata 1Seisan13Empty-Handed
Isshin Ryu Kata 2Seiunchin126Empty-Handed
Isshin Ryu Kata 3Naihanchi67Empty-Handed
Isshin Ryu Kata 4Wansu48Empty-Handed
Isshin Ryu Kata 5ChintoEmpty-Handed
Isshin Ryu Kata 6Sanchin29Empty-Handed
Isshin Ryu Kata 7Kusanku84Empty-Handed
Isshin Ryu Kata 8Sunsu87Empty-Handed
Isshin Ryu Bo KataTokumine No KunBo-Staff
Isshin Ryu Bo KataUrashi No KunBo-Staff
Isshin Ryu Bo KataShishi No KunBo-Staff
Isshin Ryu Sai KataKyan No SaiSai Kata
Isshin Ryu Sai KataChatan Yara No SaiSai Kata
Isshin Ryu Sai KataKusanku SaiSai Kata
Isshin Ryu Tonfa KataHama Higa No TuifaTonfa Kata

Is Karate Kata Effective/Important?

Martial arts experts overwhelmingly agree that Kata practice is an important and effective piece of the martial arts puzzle. Practicing Kata helps the student in their Karate journey in many ways. 

The emphasis on meticulous execution helps beginner students learn the proper form for each technique. Holding such low, strong stances helps condition and strengthen the body. 

Later on, with countless executions, the student develops a fuller understanding of body mechanics. It is often through Kata practice that students finally understand how to move their bodies to generate power from the hips and core. 

All the while, they are building muscle memory that helps with flawless execution under pressure, such as in a real fight. 

On the whole, Karate without Kata is only a shell of what it could be. 

Kata Training Tips

Once you’ve mastered Karate Katas, it is tempting to think that’s all there is to it. However, there are so many ways to expand on Kata training and reap more benefits from them. 

For example, once you’ve fully mastered a Kata, try performing it backward. Alternately, perform it as fast as you can then perform it in slow motion. 

Perform the Kata with one leg rooted in place (great for small spaces). Perform it outside — in the woods, on a mountain, on the beach — whatever floats your boat. Perform the kata on a hill, moving either up or down. 

Challenge yourself to perform the Kata mirrored. Do it in the water for strength, do it on ice to challenge your balance. Spin around a few times and perform the Kata dizzy — the variations and possibilities are endless. 

There might not be that many Kata that you can learn in your specific style. But rest assured there are so many ways to build on the basic Katas that you could spend a lifetime performing them. 

Final Words

We hope you have enjoyed this Karate forms (Kata) list. Much of the information about the origin of traditional katas has been lost to time. We did our best to include all the karate forms names, including an approximation of their meaning in English. 

The most important thing is to get out there, start your kata training and have fun! To check out the scoring and rules for Kata in competition, check out our post here!

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Cara Koch
Cara Koch
Hello! My name is Cara, and I hail from the great state of Washington up there in the Pacific Northwest. While there, I trained for and earned my 1st degree Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do at the Bonney Lake College of Martial Arts. My interest in martial arts, however, didn’t wane. I hope you enjoy the content on The Karate Blog and are impassioned and empowered by what you read here.