two fighters on the mat kickingKihon is a Japanese word that literally means ‘basics’ or ‘fundamentals’. As the name suggests, Kihon refers to the primary techniques of various martial art forms. It is the basic foundation of martial arts, incorporated by most of the martial art schools (dojos) and instructors in their curriculum.

In order to learn martial arts, it is necessary to have a fine knowledge of Kihon. Only then, martial arts students will gain mastery over their training. Regular practice of Kihon is very helpful in learning advanced and complex martial arts.

Kihon includes various fundamentals that prepare beginners for martial arts. It involves the teaching of correct body postures and breathing, with proper stances, kicks, strikes, punches, thrusts, and blocks. In addition, Kihon embodies kata, the basic representative of every martial art form.

It is not only about the practice of correct techniques, but it is also about the budōka, which promotes the right attitude and spirit at all times. Kihon techniques are used in every session of martial arts, just like the basic skills used in other sports. Learn more about the ins and outs of this by going to Taekwondo Virginia Beach.


Principles of Kihon

  1. Form (Katachi)

Correct form is necessary in the practice of martial arts. The correct posture can be maintained with good balance, right order of body movements, and high stability. All movements are done quickly, so remembering the techniques of every move is crucial. For instance, good balance is important in kicking, where the body is supported by one leg.

It requires you to stand on one leg and kick with the other leg with constant shifts in balance. While punching, the arm and hand joints should remain stable. This will help you to withstand the hard blow of your opponent.

  1. Breathing (Kokyo)

You should know how to coordinate your breathing with your every move. For example, exhaling while focusing on a technique, inhaling while blocking, both exhaling and inhaling while performing successive techniques, etc. You should change your breathing pattern according to the type of movement, as uniform breathing can spoil your move.

  1. Focus (Kime)

Karate is lifeless without Kime. It is the major driving principle behind all forms of martial arts. In order to execute correct techniques, you need to have a good focus and concentration. You should know how to focus your mental energy, physical force, and breathing.

  1. Energy shouting or spirit meeting (Kiai)

karate kids throwing forward punch

After you finish your technique, you are supposed to give out a harsh shout. This basic practice is known as Kiai. The expulsion of air (Kime) enhances the power of your movements. Moreover, it is also helpful in surprising your opponent and in turn weakening him for a moment.

At a recent martial arts conference I met another instructor who writes in detail about the intricacies of the various art forms. To get in depth info click Va Beach Taekwondo.

Ki is the most important philosophy of all Japanese martial arts. It is the spirit and energy of a fighter at the time of impact, and its sound varies from person to person.

Kihon is crucial for every form of martial art. Only regular practice of Kihon will make you a good martial arts practitioner, along with maximum effort and concentration in each and every movement. If not learned properly, bad basics can lead to ineffective technique and injury. Therefore, Kihon is central to the learning of martial arts.



We are picking up where we left off from the last article.  Here are the remaining 5 Karate styles that made the list for best of the best.

karate, taekwondo students in formation with belts

  1. Uechi Ryu Karate

The Uechi Ryu form of Karate got its name from Kanbun Uechi. Around the late 19th century and the early 20th century, Kanbun Uechi got acquainted to the southern form of Chinese kung fu, called the Pangai noon, in the Fukien district of China. Kanbun Uechi was an Okinawan martial artist, so he went back to Okinawa to teach this Karate style. However, Uechi Ryu no longer exists in China.

  1. Shuri Ryu Karate

Shuri Ryu was developed by Robert Trias, around the 1940s and 50s. He got his martial arts training in the Pacific at the time of World War II. Shuri Ryu is the earliest forms of Karate, originating from the United States. It is a mixure of eclectic styles of Okinawan Naha-te and Shuri-te, along with Chinese kung fu and Hsing-I.

  1. Kyokushinkai Karate

Kyokushinkai Karate was founded by Masutatsu Oyama in 1964. It differs from the traditional styles of Karate. Kyokushinkai is a hard and arduous form of Karate. It involves full contact and breaking techniques, along with sparring (Kumite), knock out and knockdown techniques. In Kyokushinkai, fighters are trained to deliver as well as receive hard blows. They do not wear any protective gear, except a groin protector and a mouth guard. Head gear or gloves are also not allowed in sparring tournaments.

Kyokushinkai Karate is all about real unarmed combat. It allows kicking, punching, and striking, any part of the opponent’s body, including head, face, neck, and legs. Further, Kyokushinkai Karate is known for its ‘100 man Kumite’.

  1. Budokan Karate

Budokan Karate was founded in 1966. Unlike other Karate styles, Budokan did not originate in China or Japan, but it was developed in Malaysia. Its creator, Chew Choo Soot, learned Jujitsu, Judo, Shotokan and wrestling from Malaysia, and then developed his own form of Karate, known as Budokan. Although, Budkon comes from Malaysia, it has spread all over Southern Asia and across the world.


blocking in karate

  1. Chito Ryu Karate

The Chito Ryu form of Karate was created by Tsuyoshi Chitose in 1946. It is a traditional Japanese Karate style that originated from Tode, the initial Okinawan martial art. Tsuyoshi Chitose was a doctor as well as a Karate student. This is why he incorporated a lot of practical self defense skills in Chito Ryu that are beneficial for the health. Dr. Chitose was the 6th master of To de, the former form of modern Karate.

Chito Ryu is similar to Shorin Ryu and Shorei Ryu forms of Karate. It involves fast rotating techniques that release tension and relax the upper and lower body. Along with unarmed combat techniques, Chito Ryu also includes traditional weapons of martial arts, like Tonfa, Bo (staff), and Nunchaku. In addition, Chito Ryu has its own unique Katas, like the Shihohai.

The best idea when trying to decide on a particular form of Karate is to do your homework.  That includes watching videos, visiting forums and speaking with the instructors and asking questions.  Tell them what you are looking to get out of your training and if you’re speaking to a true martial artist they will take the time to help you.



Karate is the Asian form of martial arts, which originated in Okinawa (Japan) in the early twentieth century. It is widely popular in every part of the world. Since the ancient times, Karate has seen a lot of changes in its techniques and movements, with different variations introduced by different Karate masters.

These variations are divided into two categories, Ryu and Ryuha. Ryu, which is a Japanese word, literally means school, like a school of thought. Each Ryu of Karate has its own approach towards the combat sport.

There are many different styles of Ryu Karate. The earliest styles are divided into four categories, Goju Ryu, Wado Ryu, Shorin Ryu, and Shito Ryu. Among these, Wado Ryu, Shorin Ryu, and Shito Ryu styles originated in the Shuri area of Okinawa, whereas Goju Ryu originated in the Naha province. The Shuri Karate form is different from Naha Karate, as both of them were influenced by different martial arts’ masters.

Shito Ryu is a combination of Shuri and Naha traditions, with Shuri Kata and Naha Kata. It involves upright stances and moves, with a focus on speed rather than power. Apart from this, the other major styles of Karate are listed below, with their lineage, Katas, moves, and stances.

  1. Goju Ryu Karate

Goju Ryu Karate was developed by Kanryo Higashionna, who was a practitioner of Okinawan Naha-te Karate. But, the real founder of Goju Ryu was Miyagi Chojun Sensei. In 1920, he established a Karate school. It was Miyagi Chojun Sensei, who gave the name of Goju Ryu to this Karate form, with the help of the traditional Chinese Kempo. He was one of the first persons to name his art form, among different Karate schools. With time, Goju Ryu Karate became popular with its official registration in 1933 at the Japanese Martial Arts Association (Butoku kai).

‘Goju’ is a Japanese term, made of two different characters, ‘Go’ and ‘Ju’. ‘Go’ translates to hard and ‘Ju’ translates to soft, which means it combines both hard and soft techniques of Karate.

Goju Ryu is one of the chief sub styles or schools of Karate. It incorporates the Sanchin Kata and the Sanchin stance that is practiced as a body conditioning and meditation exercise. It involves various close-range and grappling techniques, like circular joint locks and punches.

Check out the video of Karate Legend Morio Higaonna


  1. Wado Ryu Karate

Wado Ryu is a Japanese Karate style, which is a blend of the grappling techniques of Jujitsu and the striking techniques of Shotokan. Wado Ryu was founded by Hironori Otsuka, who was one of the earliest students of Master Gichin Funakoshi. He also got his training with other Jujitsu and Karate masters. Eventually, he came up with his own style of Karate just before World War II, known as Wado Ryu.

Wado Ryu is one of the popular schools of Karate. As opposed to other Karate styles like Shotokan, Wado Ryu uses soft sparring techniques. It embodies short and natural stances with body shifts, in order to prevent attacks. In addition, the movements and strikes of Wado Ryu are more fluid and flexible.

  1. Shorin Ryu Karate

Shorin Ryu Karate was developed by Choshin Chibana in Okinawa (Japan), around the 1930s. Shorin is a Japanese word, which translates to Shaolin (kung fu). Shaolin is the name of the famous temple of martial arts in China.

As Okinawa is a place between Japan and China, Shorin Ryu is a combination of Okinawan (Shuri te) and Chinese martial arts. Shorin Ryu Karate includes various types of Katas, punches, and weapons. The major form of Shorin Ryu is known as Matsubayashi Ryu. It is so prominent that sometimes people refer Shorin Ryu as Matsubayashi Ryu.




Karate Silouette of kicking and flying kickKarate is one of the forms of martial arts, which literally means ‘empty hand’. It originated in the mainland of Southern Japan, the Okinawa. Karate majorly developed as a self defense technique, as during the time of its foundation, the Japanese government banned the use of weapons. Due to this national policy, it developed into a self defense martial art. Karate includes the use of feet, hands, knees, and elbows.

Shotokan Karate is an unarmed combat, which developed from a number of martial arts styles. It is one of the most traditional and prominent style of ‘Karate do’. Shotokan Karate is a combination of Shorei Ryu and Shorin Ryu schools of Karate. Other schools like Shotokai, Wado Ryu, Shindo jinen Ryu, Chito Ryu, Yoseikan, Kyokushin, originated from Shotokan Karate.

Founder of Shotokan

Master Gichin Funakoshi (1868–1957) is the founder of modern Karate, known as Shotokan Karate. He hailed from Shuri, Okinawa, where he used to teach in a martial arts school. He got his training under two eminent Okinawan Karate masters, namely Anko Itosu and Yasatsune Azato. In 1922, at the first National Athletic Exhibition in Tokyo, he got noticed by the Education minister of Japan, who asked him to bring his Karate to Japan. There he taught a combination of Okinawan forms of martial arts with complete discipline and only one method. The demonstration was a huge success because of the high level skills of Master Funakoshi. The first legitimate Karate dojo was built by Master Gichin Funakoshi at Mejiro in 1936, which also came to be known as Shotokan. However, it was ruined in 1945, due to an allied bombing.

Gichin Funakoshi’s unique style of practicing Karate with hard techniques and deep stances was known as ‘Shoto’, the pen name of Funakoshi. He signed this name using the calligraphy style in his philosophical and poetic writings, as well as in his messages to his students. Later on, Gigo (Yoshitaka) Funakoshi (1906–1945), son of master Gichin Funakoshi developed Shotokan Karate. He performed numerous public demonstrations and popularized ‘Karate do’ (earlier form of Shotokan Karate) in Karate schools, including some of the major Karate clubs at Waseda, Keio, Takushoku, Hitotsubashi (Shodai), Gakushuin, Chuo, and Hosei. Following his death in 1957, his disciples continued to practice Shotokan Karate. However, internal disagreements gave birth to different institutions, for example the split between Japan Karate Association and Shotokai. This is why there is not a single Shotokan school till date, though all of them were influenced by Gichin Funakoshi.

Etymology of Shotokan Karate

The term ‘Shotokan’ comprises of three Kanji character in the Japanese language, that is, Sho To Kan. It translates to ‘Pine Waves Hall’ and is equivalent to the tiger figure of Shotokan Karate. Master Gichin Funakoshi explained the reason behind why he chose this term. He said that the wind that blew between the pine trees near his place, made a sound similar to the waves of water. The blowing pine trees looked like the tail of a tiger, when viewed from a distance. Thus, the tiger symbol of Shotokan Karate signifies the alertness of a tiger that never sleeps.

The ranking system within Karate

All martial arts have their own ranking system. Similarly, Karate also has its own ranking system. Ranks in Karate indicate expertise, experience, mastery, and seniority of the practitioners. In 1924, Funakoshi adopted the Kyu or Dan ranking system and

Bowing before judo match
Bowing before judo match

the uniform (keikogi) of Kano Jigoro (creator of Judo). This system of ranking used colored belts, also known as ‘obi’ in Japanese, to rank the participants. Karate originally used three belt colors to rank the participants, including brown, white, and black. Each belt has its own system of ranks. However, the belt colors of Shotokan Karate can vary for different schools. But generally, the color gets darker with experience and approaching shodan. The original ranking system of Shotokan Karate is:

  • 8 rising to 4 Kyu – White
  • 3 rising to 1 Kyu – Brown
  • 1 and above Dan – Black (Some schools use strips to indicate the different ranks of Black belt)

The first Dan Black belt (shodan) of Shotokan Karate was awarded by Master Funakoshi to Hironori Otsuka (Otsuka), Tokuda, Shimizu, Akiba, Makoto Gima, Shinyo Kasuya, and Hirose in 1924.

Famous practitioners of Shotokan Karate

The former UFC champion in the light heavyweight category, Lyoto Machida, received the 3rd Dan Black belt in Shotokan Karate. Machida’s father Yoshizo Machida was awarded with 7th Dan belt and his brother Shinzo had a 4th Dan belt. His father was the head of the Brazilian branch of the Japan Karate Association. Vitor Belfort received a blue belt in Shotokan Karate.

Furthermore, action film star Jean Claude Van Damme has a Dan black belt in Shotokan Karate. He practiced this Karate style in the full contact Karate competitions of 1970 and 1980. Wesley Snipes holds a 5th black belt. Actor Michael Jai White has a black belt in Shotokan Karate, in addition to six other martial arts. Bear Grylls and Karate World Champion Luca Valdesi are some of the other famous practitioners of Shotokan Karate.

Characteristics Of The Karate Form


The training of Shotokan Karate is separated into three parts: Kihon, Kata, and Kumite. Kihon are the basics or fundamentals, Kata are the forms and patterns of movements and Kumite are the sparring techniques. Kata and Kumite techniques involve deep, linear, and long stances. These stances enable powerful movements, strengthen the legs, and provide stability and balance. Shotokan Karate is considered as a powerful and dynamic form of martial arts, because it develops speed and anaerobic techniques.

When a beginner starts to learn Shotokan Karate, he is taught to demonstrate strength and power instead of slow moves. Then, gradually the practitioner learns various fluid styles such as throwing, grappling, and aikido-like techniques, as he approaches the brown and black belt levels. These techniques are also found in the basic form of Kata. Kumite or fighting techniques are used while the practitioner advances towards a more rigorous training and higher levels of Shotokan Karate, along with Kihon and Kata. This is done between two people, where one is an attacker and the other a defender.

Thus, Shotokan is a major for of Karate, with its own techniques and moves.

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