How Many Moves Are There To Learn In Karate?

People can spend decades mastering Karate and reaching a First Dan, or first black belt.

On that journey, there are many different katas, techniques, and moves that a student will learn but each move is built around several basic moves that are at the basis of everything in Karate.

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Karate movements consist of specific stances, punches, kicks, and blocks. Each of these movements is broken into some basic movements that everything else consists of or starts from. 

Here we look at the many different moves there are to learn in Karate

Stances To Learn In Karate 

Stances, or Tachikata, refer to how you stand in Karate. Having a good stance is important as it will help you to maintain power, control, and balance during your movements.

Katas, combinations, and general movements in Karate all stem from a basic stance. 

There are four basic stances in Karate, these are:

Musubi Dachi

This is the first stance students are taught in Karate. Feet are positioned in a V-shape and hands are placed by the sides.

This stance is common when bowing and when students are standing and listening to the Sensei.

Hachiji Dachi

This stance is also known as the natural stance. Here the legs are placed a shoulder-width apart and the feet are pointed forward.

The arms are held with a slight bend in the elbow, fists tight and the arms slightly in front yet inclined to the body. 

Hachiji Dachi is used when waiting to begin a kata or any other movements which the Sensei tells the student to begin.

It shows that the student is ready to move whenever necessary.

Kiba Dachi

Kiba Dachi can be seen in many different martial arts but it is at the core of Karate.

This stance is also referred to as the horse-riding stance as the legs are spread, with a slight bend in the knee as though you were sitting on top of a horse. 

The back is held straight and the feet are placed just more than a hip-width apart and parallel to the other, pointing forwards and knees pointing slightly inwards.

Hands are often placed on the hips in this stance to help maintain balance.

Students can struggle to master this stance as there is a lot to focus on and move into position.

Usually, by the time students reach their yellow belt, they will have mastered this stance.

Zenkutsu Dachi

This is the final basic stance in Karate and it is also called the front stance. Front stance is incredibly common in most combinations and katas. 

In the front stance, the rear leg is straightened with only a slight bend in the knee to make movement easier, and the front leg has a 90-degree bend in the knee.

The front foot is pointed forward and the back foot is slightly turned out. 

Punches To Learn In Karate 

Punches To Learn In Karate 

Punches are called Tsuki in Karate. There are three main punches in Karate and these would be more common than kicks in Karate. These are explained below.

Choku Zuki 

Choku Zuki is a straight punch that is performed from Musubi Dachi. A fist is formed with the thumb outside of the fingers, as the arm pulls in the punch is extended with the palm facing downwards.

Oi Zuki 

Oi Zuki is performed from Zenkutsu Dachi. The punch is executed while stepping forwards into the front stance.

The hip is used to drive more force through the arm and into the fist during this punch.

Gyaku Zuki

This is the reverse of Oi Zuki, the punch is delivered on the opposite side to the leg that steps forward, for example, if the step is taken on the left foot the punch is executed through the right hand. 

Kicks To Learn In Karate 

Kicks are referred to as Geri in Karate. There are three main types of kick and each requires a strong stance to ensure power, balance, and control are maintained.

Mae Geri 

This is a simple front kick that can be snapped or thrust forward. This kick is delivered from a fighting stance and kicks are usually chambered to ensure control over this move.

Mawashi Geri 

This kick is the famous roundhouse kick, seen in most martial arts films. This is a fast kick where one leg is raised while leaning the body back, it is then snapped out in an extended motion before being drawn back into the chamber position.

Yoko Geri

This kick is performed from Kiba Dachi and so it requires a lot of core power and balance.

The left leg is brought over the right foot, the right leg then draws up until the foot is beside the left knee, and the leg is then extended to the side before returning to the chamber position.

Blocks To Learn In Karate 

The last set of basic moves are blocks, called Uke in Karate. There are four different types of blocks and they are used to protect the body when being attacked.

Inward Block 

Kicks and punches aimed at the head can be blocked using an inward block. This block pushes attacks away from the body.

Outward Block 

This block is used to block roundhouse kicks or reverse punches. The movement will end with your closed fist away from the face.

Upper Block 

To perform an upper block the arm is swung up to block any incoming kicks or punches, after an upper block your first will be closed and facing away from the face.

Lower Block

To perform a lower block the arm is swung down to block any incoming attacks, the end of the movement will be your closed fist facing the body.

Final Thoughts 

While there is no final figure as to how many moves there are to learn in karate, mastering the above fourteen moves will put any student in a fantastic position to excel in their studies.

As students progress through different belts they will encounter more advanced moves but the fourteen basic moves listed in this piece will be the basis of anything else students learn.

Christopher Anderson