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KIHON

(Fundementals)

Kihon is the Japanese term meaning "basics" or "fundamentals." The term is used to refer to the basic techniques that are taught and practiced as the foundation of most Japanese martial arts. The practice and mastery of Kihon is essential to all advanced training, and includes the practice of correct body form and breathing, while practicing basics such as stances, punches, kicks, blocks, and thrusts, but it also includes basic representative Kata.

Kihon is not only practicing of techniques, it is also the Karateka fostering the correct spirit and attitude at all times.

Kihon techniques tend to be practiced often, in many cases during each practice session. They are considered fundamental to mastery and improvement of all movements of greater complexity. Kihon in martial arts can be seen as analogous to basic skills in, for example, basketball. Professional NBA players continue to practice dribbling, passing, free throws, jump shots, etc. in an effort to maintain and perfect the more complex skills used during a basketball game.

In Karate a Karateka (student of Karate) demonstrating Kihon-techniques for a grading exam. Kihon may be practiced as "floor exercises", where the same technique or combination is repeated multiple times as the students move back and forth across the floor. Japanese kihon training is notorious for extended periods of kihon training. This style of practice is believed to ingrain the techniques into the muscle memory of the Karateka.

Some styles employ "Kihon Kata" in teaching beginners. Additionally, kihon may take the form of prearranged partner drills whereby two students face each other and alternate execution of a technique. This approach combines repetition with training in distancing. Targets for punching and kicking, such as bags, shields, or dummies, are generally used at more advanced stages of kihon training to strengthen muscles, bones, and skin. Examples of traditional striking targets include Makiwara (striking post), among many others.

Shotokan Kihon generally consists of the following series of movements: Blocks (Uke), Punches (Tsuki), Strike (Uchi), Smashes (Ate), Keri (Kicks)

KATA

(Forms)

Kata (型) literally meaning "form" is a Japanese word describing detailed patterns of movements practiced either solo or in pairs. Shotokan Kata are executed as a specified series of a variety of moves, with stepping and turning, while attempting to maintain perfect form. The practitioner is taught to visualise the enemy attacks and their responses. Karateka "read" a Kata in order to explain the imagined events. There are perhaps 100 Kata across the various forms of karate, each with many minor variations. Traditionally, Kata are taught in stages. Previously learned Kata are repeated to show better technique or power as a student acquires knowledge and experience. It is common for students testing to repeat every Kata they have learned but at an improved level of quality. The student will perform one new Kata and one or two previous ones, to demonstrate how much they have progressed.

The various styles of karate study different Kata, or variations of a common core. Some Kata may therefore be known by two names, one in Japanese the other in Okinawan/Chinese. This is because Gichin Funakoshi renamed many Kata to help Karate spread throughout Japan.

Kata is often described as a set sequence of karate moves organized into a pre-arranged fight against imaginary opponents. The Kata consists of kicks, punches, sweeps, strikes and blocks. Body movement in various Kata includes stepping, twisting, turning, dropping to the ground, and jumping.

In Shotokan Kata is not a performance or a demonstration, but is for individual/Karateka to practice full techniques, with every technique potentially a killing blow (Ikken Hisatsu) while paying particular attention to form and timing (rhythm). As the Karateka grows older, more emphasis is placed on the health benefits of practicing Kata, promoting fitness while keeping the body soft, supple, and agile.

The original Shotokan Kata syllabus is introduced in Funakoshi's book Karate-do Kyohan, which is the Master Text of Shotokan Karate. When the Japan Karate Association (JKA) was formed, Nakayama laid down 27 Kata as the Kata syllabus for this organisation. Even today, thousands of Shotokan Dojo only practice 26 of these 27 Kata. The standard JKA Kata are:

Taikyoku Shodan (sometimes termed Kihon Kata, discontinued in most of today's Shotokan Dojos) (太初) Heian Shodan , Heian Nidan, Heian Sandan, Heian Yondan, Heian Godan, Tekki Shodan, Bassai Dai, Jion, Enpi, Kanku Dai, Hangetsu, Jitte, Gankaku, Tekki Nidan Tekki Sandan, Nijushiho, Chinte, Sochin, Meikyo, Unsu, Bassai Sho, Kanku Sho, Wankan, Gojushiho Sho, Gojushiho Dai, Jiin

KUMITE

(Sparing)

Kumite literally translated means "grappling hands" and is one of the three main sections of karate training, along with Kata and kihon. Kumite is the part of karate in which a person trains against an adversary, using the techniques learned from the kihon and Kata.

Kumite can be used to develop a particular technique or a skill (e.g. effectively judging and adjusting one's distance from one's opponent) or it can be done in competition.

Since the word "Kumite" refers to forms of sparring, it covers a vast range of activities. In traditional Shotokan karate, the first type of Kumite for beginners is Gohon Kumite. The defender steps back each time, blocking the attacks and performing a counterattack after the last block. This activity looks nothing like the jiyu Kumite (or "free sparring") practiced by more advanced practitioners, which is far closer to how karate would look if used in a real fight, especially because it is not choreographed. Karate and other forms of martial arts have various other types of Kumite (e.g. 3-step, 1-step, semi-free, etc.) which span this large range in

The types of Kumite used within Shotokan training in the S.K.K.K are as follows:

  • Ippon Kumite - one step sparring, typically used for self-defence drills
  • Gohon Kumite - five step sparring, typically used to develop speed, strength and technique
  • Sanbon Kumite - three step sparring, typically used to develop speed, strength and technique
  • Kiso Kumite - structured sparring drawn from a Kata
  • Jiyu Kumite - free sparring
  • Kaeshi Kumite - reaction sparring
  • Okuri Kumite - ‘give back’ sparring