6 posts / 0 new
Last post
diadicic's picture
Kihon Kata

I been doing research, trying to understand what Does Kihon Kata teach? Do we even need them, or should we throw them out?  I've come up with this so far.  If it does teach any skill, it is something very simple and I believe for some reason that it was felt that it should be learnt first because of how important and simple it is. Example Kata would be: Taikyoku's, Fukyugata or anything else know to be beginner Kata.

What's your take?


ky0han's picture

Hi Dom,

I dön't like the term Kihon Kata. Kihon means Foundation or Basis. Kata in general is the basis of Karate. What most people refer to as Kihon are single movements taken out of the context of the Kata.

In the past there was a whole bunch of Kata considered to be forms for beginners e.g. Pinan 1-5, Naihanchi 1-3, Rohai 1-3, Seishan and so on.

I think that the so called Kihon Kata should teach the core body mechanics and maybe a few simple concepts like body shifting, angles, controll of the center of gravity. But that also can be found in every Kata. I use the Taikyoku Kata extensively for beginners to teach all the stepping, turning, coordination of limbs while moving. That requires only a very small amount of techniques for a beginner and but he can however experience the feeling of Kata.

Hope that helps.

Regards Holger 

Oerjan Nilsen
Oerjan Nilsen's picture

Kihon Kata or Gibon Hyung are present in most old style Korean martial arts. They were imported mostly from Shotokan. Some instructors even made 3 Kata with added kicks to them and they are still taught to beginners in many Tang soo do or Soo bahk do schools today.

In Kukki Taekwondo we teach the Taegeuk form set. They follow a strict ranking in difficulty of excecuting the forms, so the first one is the easies by far and then there is a nice gradual rise in diffuculty of performing with each rank and form. The need for basic forms will then not be as great as in other styles.

I do see that learning them (I watched the Taikyoku forms on youtube) will teach the student valuable things like coordination, control of bodyweight, learning how to shift from stance to stance, turning etc before attempting learning more difficult forms (like the Pinans, Kushanku etc).

Also the basic forms will have many good applications in regard of self defence considering the motions that are used only makes use of the high percentage techniques and relying purely on gross motor skills.

In a time when most people studdied the Kata indepth often knowing perhaps 1-3 forms I think that the basic forms would be redundant. The students will eventually learn to move, control of the bodyweight etc from the more "advanced" forms (more difficult to perform). Gichin Funakoshi spent his first decade of training focusing in only the three naihanchi forms.

Today with people wanting to learn more and more forms I can see the use of basic forms as an introduction to the more advanced forms. They could even be used as a good introduction to Bunkai if the teacher wants to. The forms might not be made with bunkai in mind, but they make use of combinations and techniques also present in the more advanced forms, so the same bunkai is applicable in both the "basic forms" as well as the advanced forms. My teacher has made 3 basic forms that are soon to be taught to all beginners as well as the Taegeuk set. The difference in the basic forms and the Taegeuk set is that these new forms are all performed in deep stances instead of the Taegeuk where the first three forms are performed in walking steps.

The first three Taegeuk forms:



Notice the use of gross motor skills, the frequent use of short walking stance, and the way each form is making use of many of the same combinations just adding a little more with each form. Like the first begins with low block and middle punch both in short stance, the second form has the same beginning but with the punch being performed in long stance. The third has added one kick and makes two punches.

The Traditional Taekwondo Union basic forms:



Notice the uses of longer, deeper stances. Theese seem to be inspired heavely by the older Karates Kihon Kata.

Now for your question of wether we should get rid of the basic forms or not: In my opinion we should not get rid of them. They are beginners forms but they can also serve as the foundation of the style. They contain mainly high percentage techniques that are vital to the martial arts, they rely on gross motor skills, they teach body control and how to shift your weight, and for the modern times they are easy to learn compared to the older forms and when they are learned they make the students learn the more "advanced" forms better. That being said, if you focus solely on bunkai or self defence then the fewer the better in terms of Kata, and also the students will spend much more time on each form as well. Making them learn the lessons that could have been taught in the basic forms as they master the more advanced ones. I guess it is tho old, "there are many paths to the top of the mountain":)

Also: some people are naturally gifted, and grown ups will have easier to learn coordination than most children will have. So one solotion would perhaps be to get rid of the basic forms for the adults and keep them on for the childrens classes. I think this was the original intention for the creation of the basic forms in Shotokan by Gichin Funakoshi as stated in the podcast of pressure points on this site (if I understood Iain Abernethy correct then he makes the case for Funakoshi to have created the basic forms for children for teaching them the basic without teaching them the more "dangourous" techniques contained in other Kata.)

I think we must ask ourself the question: "Why were they created in the first place?"

Best regards from Oerjan.

diadicic's picture

It's interesting that the forms are similar even to the Taikyoku's.  There is defiantly a common theme here.

Thanks for all the info.


JWT's picture

Funakoshi commented that Taikyoku Shodan was a Kata that the experienced Karateka would turn to again and again (paraphrased).

The more we learn about training and fighting, the more certain truths are revealed.  Simplicity is crucial (keep movements basic and gross motor). Multiplicity is ideal (use movements that can be applied in many different ways against many different things).  Redundancy is good (have automatic back ups built in for when things don't work smoothly). You get good at what you train for.

So Taikyoku Shodan...

One stance... but what is a stance?  Merely a frozen image of posture, a suggestion for good weight placement in a particular technique.

Steps... we can all walk, put one leg in front of the other.  That is done in this Kata - but does a full step forward as opposed to a shuffle have a purpose?  Can stepping directly into someone unbalance them?  Those three different types of turn - can they be different methods of moving round people/throwing/tripping/unbalancing them?

Punches... so simple on the surface.  Punching can be viewed as a core skill (if you punch - I rarely do). But to thrust out a fist isn't always a punch.

Down Sweeps.  So many effective things can be done with such a simple movement.  Rick Clark wrote a book on 75 Down Blocks, but this only scrapes the surface of how versatile and useful this movement is.

Taikyoku Shodan is a KISS Kata.

Hope that helps.

Mikky's picture

So many interesting posts here on this thread!

As a beginner, i am biased at the moment, so i vote for keeping the Taikyoku Katas, not least because of what Oerjan posted.

I enjoy doing this Kata, as do many of the other lower belts in our class.

It is the Kata we can all 'cut our teeth' on, whilst using them as a sort of 'spring or soundingboard' for the Heian sets to come.

You are of course correct in saying it's a KISS Kata JWT, long may it continue i say!!