At the start of your karate journey, there are basic moves that provide the foundation for everything you do. These basic moves are blocks, kicks and punches, and before you advance to a higher level of karate it is imperative to get the basic moves down.
The basic karate moves are known as Kihon, and are made up of stances, punches, blocks, and kicks. Once you have these basic moves down – and with time and dedication – you can eventually progress to a black belt!
Let’s break down these fundamental moves in more detail.
Put simply, stances or tachikata in karate are ways of standing. These stances help you to keep your balance while effectively attacking your opponent or defending yourself from their moves. Let’s take a look at more specific stances and how you can do them accurately.
This is one of the most simple karate stances and will most likely be the first stance you learn in the dojo. To perform the musubi dachi you need to place your feet in a V formation with your hands resting at your sides. This stance is usually performed during a bow.
Natural Stance Hachiji Dachi
Hachiji Dachi naturally follows the Musubi Dachi and is the attention position stance. This stance is done with your legs placed shoulder-length apart and with your feet pointing forward. Your arms are normally kept in the front of your body, with your body tilting to the side.
Horse Riding Stance Kiba Dachi
For the Kiba Dachi stance you have to stand with your feet wide apart and parallel, with your knees pointing towards each other. You also need to keep your back straight, and you need to shift a lot of weight to your lower body.
Back Stance Kokutsu Dachi
To perform Kokutsu Dachi you need to straighten your front leg and your front foot forward. Normally you keep your knees bent.
Your back knee needs to be strongly bent as your body weight has to rest on your back foot, and your front knee is only slightly bent. Keep your neck and back straight to maintain an upward posture.
Front Stance Zenkutsu Dachi
This is the stance most often seen in karate. The zenkutsu dachi stance involves keeping your back leg straight and your knee bent slightly.
Your front foot always needs to be straight, and your knee needs to be bent at a 90-degree angle and your back turned to 45 degrees at most. Your body weight is normally distributed equally on both your legs.
There are 15 stances in total in karate but these are the most foundational and common stances that can be applied in most scenarios.
In every dojo, punches are practiced a lot. In fact, in your very first karate lesson you’re most likely going to practice punching, as in a karate match you will be punching quite a bit!
What a lot of karate punches have in common is that they allow you to attack your opponent in the fewest moves. Punches are meant to make you faster and more powerful during combat.
Straight Punch Choku Zuki
Choku zuki is a punch that is executed from a natural stance by punching your right arm forward and your palm facing down. When you pull the opposite arm in, gradually face your palm upward while releasing the left arm.
Repeat this process to form a series of punches.
With the choku zuki you can hit three different parts of the body.
These are the face/head, your chest, and your legs.
When you punch the head or face this is called the choku zuki jodan, when you punch the chest it is known as the choku zuki chudan, and when you punch the legs it is referred to as the choku zuki gedan.
Front Lunge Punch Oi Zuki
To execute the oi zuki you have to step forward in a front stance with your punching leg and throw a punch like you would the straight punch. You will need to push your front hip forward to give your punch more force.
You also have to switch your punching foot and arm at the same time, making at least 5 back and forth motions.
Karate is not all about speedy attacking. Rather, the focus is on defending yourself from attacks by executing effective blocks. When blocking effectively, you can avoid being hit and make a quick counterattack.
Downward Block Gedan Barai
Gedan barai blocks attacks to your legs. When executing this block, you need to place your blocking arm by your ear and your other arm above your navel.
Then move your blocking arm down along your opposite arm as you move it down, and at the same time move your non-blocking arm to your hip.
You need to step in the front stance when finishing the downward block. However when practicing this block, this block can also be performed with 5 forward and backward motions to make sure it really sticks in your mind!
Kicks in karate are perhaps the toughest thing to master in this martial art, but when executed correctly can be extremely powerful.
Front Kick Mae Geri
Mae geri is a simple karate kick. You can execute this front kick with either your front or your back leg when standing in a fighting stance.
You can also execute the kick sharply and quickly as a snapping front kick, or as a thrusting front kick which is more powerful.
Karate is full of impressive, powerful, and complex moves that all stem from these foundational karate movements.
Practicing these basics continuously will ensure you remember these moves and train your muscles so you can execute them with skill and precision. With dedication and practice, these moves will come as naturally to you as breathing!
We cannot stress enough how important it is to regularly practice these moves, so you can hone your karate skills and eventually advance to a black belt.