What Are the Basic Steps (Moves) of Karate?

What Are the Basic Steps (Moves) of Karate?

When someone starts their martial arts journey, some basic moves make up the building blocks of everything that you will do. These include various punches, kicks, and blocks. Learning Karate is not different from others. It would be best if you mastered basic moves before advancing to higher levels.

The fundamental moves in Karate go by the name Kihon. They include Stances (Tachikata), Punches (Tsuki), Blocks (Uke), and Kicks (Geri).

Karate moves

Learning the basic moves of Karate will enable you to grow and progress from white belt to black belt within the art. Scroll down to learn more.

Why Are the Basic Karate Moves Essential?

Even the most complicated and threatening moves are built from the basic Karate movements. Continuous practice of the basics will train your memory and muscles so that you will perform all the moves skilfully, naturally and consciously in a fight.

Imagine you are fighting against a skilled opponent. Suppose you have not exercised the basic techniques well enough. In that case, opportunities are you will be busy thinking about how to place your arms or your feet right before defending, counter-attacking, or attacking. It will rob you of the chance to focus on your tactics and strategies while granting your opponent an excellent opportunity to strike and overpower you or gain a point.

Therefore, it is crucial to practice basic Karate moves continuously. I dare to say that one can master the art of Karate by learning mostly basics without advancing to higher levels.

Once you’ve begun to master the basic moves of Karate, you’ll quickly realize that the intensity of the sport requires not just skill, but also proper protective gear. For more details on one of the most pivotal elements, check out this full guide on the best Karate Sparring Gloves worth considering to safeguard your journey from white belt to black belt.

How to Practice Basic Moves?

Having known what the basic moves are, I will take you through every technique and describe to you how to properly do it. You may get it too easy to do at some points, but the core is to internalize every move and know it better.

Stances (Tachikata)

Stances are simply standings, but there are some essentials required to do them correctly. Proper and appropriate stances will allow us to keep balance while attacking and defending with higher effect.

There are various stances, each of which matches varying situations which will be discussed later on. Now let’s concentrate on how to do specific stances properly.

Musubi Dachi 

It is the most basic stance you get to hear of when you first set your feet into the dojo (Karate training room/hall). It’s performed feet placed together in a V-shape while hands inclined on the sides of the body. It’s usually done when bowing.

Natural Stance (Hachiji Dachi)

Hachiji Dachi is the immediate follower of Musubi Dachi. It’s the “attention position” stance. It’s done with the legs spaced at shoulder length and both feet pointing forward. The arms are usually kept in front and inclined to the body.

Horse Riding Stance (Kiba Dachi) 

Kiba Dachi portrays wide feet parallel to each other with the feet and knees kept pointing inwards, and the back kept straight. Most of the weight is usually shifted to the lower body. 

Back Stance (Kokutsu Dachi)

Kokutsu Dachi is usually performed with the front leg straight and the front feet pointing forward. Both knees are typically bent with the front knee slightly, and the back strongly bent since most of the bodyweight rests on the back foot. The pelvis is maintained at an upward posture while the neck and the back are kept straight.

Front Stance (Zenkutsu Dachi)

Zenkutsu Dachi is the most common stance in Karate. It consists of an extended back with the rear leg straightened and the back knee slightly bent. The front foot must always be straight with the front knee bent at 90 degrees and the back turned out to at most 45 degrees. The body weight is usually shared on both legs at approximately 60% for the front and 40% for the back leg. They must always be more comprehensive than the shoulder width.

In Karate, there are 15 stances. However, these three are of the most common and basic stances which you can apply in several situations.

Punches (Zuki / Tsuki)

If you go to a Karate class, you’ll probably notice that punches are the most practised. Typically, you will learn how to throw a punch since it’s the very first lesson and will be repeated over and over again.

Most of the Karate punches share one thing in that they make their way through the shortest distance to the target. It is highly encouraged to increase speed and power while fighting. 

Before going into different punches, let’s first learn how to make a fist properly;

Curl your fingers until the tip of each touches its palm.

Place your thumb across the centre of your index finger and middle finger.

Hit with two knuckles of your middle finger and index finger.

Keep your wrist straight in every strike.

It is time to have a look at the Karate punches genuinely!

Straight Punch (Choku Zuki)

Choku Zuki is executed from the natural stance by punching the right arm forward and the palm facing downwards. As pull the other arm in, its palm gradually faces up and concurrently release the left arm. The process is repeated to make a serious of punches. 

Choku Zuki can hit three distinct locations, that is, head/face, chest and the lower area.

The straight punch; to the head/face referred to as Choku Zuki Jodan, to the chest is Choku Zuki Chudan while that to the lower area is known as Choku Zuki Gedan.

It’s also executed in multiples, i.e. two consecutive punches to the chest known as Nidan/Seren Zuki and three others (2 the chest and 1 to the face)- Sabon Zuki.

Front Lunge Punch (Oi Zuki)

For Oi Zuki, you need to step forward into a front stance with the punching leg throwing the punch as in the straight punch above. You’ll have to push the front hip forward to add more force to the executed technique. Switch the punching foot and arm simultaneously and accordingly—make up to at least five forward and backward movements for the fundamentals part of the method.

Reverse punch (Gyaku zuki)

In reverse punch, the lead leg and punching arm are on opposite sides. When your left leg is in front, punch with your right fist and vice versa. It’s usually known as a counter punch for it’s recommended to block an attack with the hand closest to your opponent and counter with the hand farthest away. To generate more power,snap the hips as you swing the punch.

Blocks (Uke)

In Karate, you’re not encouraged to attack fast. Instead, it would help if you defended yourself from the harming attacks from your opponent by executing appropriate blocks. If you effectively do the blocks, you can prevent the hit and quickly make a counter-attack.

Downward Block (Gedan Barai)

Gedan Barai is used to block attacks to the lower area. To execute this block, start with your blocking arm placed at the ear and non-blocking arm placed at the height of your belly button. Slide your blocking arm downwards along the other arm as it goes downwards and simultaneously bring the non-blocking arm to the hip position.

Remember to step into the front stance as you finish the downward block technique. You can also do it in motions of 5 forwards and backwards to thoroughly memorize it.

Inside/Outward block (Uchi-uke or Uchi-ude-uke)

This basic block is used to block attacks to the mid-section. It starts with placing the blocking hand under your  opposite armpit with the palm down. Pull the arm forward twisting the wrist for the palm to face forward. Bend the arm at an angle of 90-degrees while stepping into a forward stance as you level the fist with the shoulder.

Upward/Rising Block (Age Uke)

Begin performing Age Uke with the blocking arm at the hip and the non-blocking arm pointing upwards with the fingers relaxed. Lift the blocking arm above the non-blocking one as you step into the front stance. Fully extend the blocking arm up, keeping the forearm facing out, bringing the non-blocking arm to the hip as usual.

Keep repeating the steps over and over again.

Outside/inward block (Soto-uke or Soto-ude-uke)

This is also used to block an attack to the middle section. It moves from the outside of the body inward. To execute Soto uke, make a fist and bend the blocking arm at a 90 degrees angle with the forearm aligned with the body and perpendicular to the ground. Step into a forward stance. Rotate the hips in the direction of the block to generate the power and force needed to deflect the attack while pulling the non-blocking arm to the hips.

Knife hand block (Shuto uke)

The knife-hand block uses the edge of the hand to block the attack aimed at the abdomen, chest or face. On execution, step into a back stance with your blocking hand  held out with the palm facing forward and the knife edge striking the opponent’s wrist while the other hand is kept in front of the solar plexus with the palm up.  Your hands should be positioned in the four-finger spear-hand.

Kicks (Geri)

Karate kicks are tricky to execute yet extraordinarily powerful when performed correctly. To do so, you have to achieve a stable stance and maintain a proper balance. Here are some the basic kicks you need to learn.

Front Kick (Mae Geri)

Mae Geri is one of the most basic kicks in Karate. The front kick can be executed from either your front or back leg when you are standing in a fighting stance. It can also be thrown as a snapping front kick, which is a quick and sharp motion, or as a thrusting front kick, a more extended more powerful movement used to push someone away.

When performing any kick, you want to follow four simple steps: chamber, kick, chamber, down. The front kick is no different. To chamber a front kick, you bring your leg up, so your thigh is perpendicular with the floor, with a bent knee and bent ankle. It is keeping your kick ready. Next, extend your leg in either a snapping or thrusting motion up and forward, keeping your ankle bent so that you hit your target with the flat of your foot. Bring your foot back into the chamber and then bring your leg down to finish the kick.

Roundhouse Kick (Mawashi Geri)

Mawashi Geri is a fast kick that gets its power from twisting your hips. It follows the same steps of, kick, chamber, down like the front kick. To perform a roundhouse kick off your front leg, make sure that you are standing to the side of your target. Raise it as you slightly lean back, bend your knee and ankle, ensure your shin is tucked that there is a straight line from its bone to top of your foot. To kick, extend your leg in a snapping motion and hit with the top of your foot. Bring your leg back into the chamber, then lower it to the ground.

Hook kick (Ura mawashi geri)

You can apply this kick to hook the attacker who steps in during the execution of the kick. It uses the heel or sole of the foot as the striking surface. To execute this kick, step into  the forward stance, use the back leg, lift the knee up high while rotating the foot of the pivoting leg in the opposite direction to loosen up the hip. Kick in a circular motion passing the center line, then pull the leg back to the ground.

Side Kick (Yoko geri)

This kick uses the edge of the foot as the striking surface. From the forward stance, switch to horse riding stance, bring the left to crossover the right foot. Pull the right leg in close to the left knee, chamber the right leg to do a side  kick. Withdraw the kicking leg and swiftly land into horse riding stance.There are two kinds of side kicks: the side snap kick (Yoko geri keage) and the side thrust kick ( Yoko geri kekomi). 

Vladimir Vladisavljevic has been training in the art of kickboxing for over seven years, holds a Taekwondo black belt, and has a master's degree in sports and physical education. He's also a huge mixed martial arts fan. He's a big deal in Bulgaria as a mixed martial arts commentator, analyst, and podcaster.
Article by

Vladimir Vladisavljevic

Vladimir Vladisavljevic has a master's degree in sports and physical education. He has been training in kickboxing for over seven years and holds a Taekwondo black belt. He's also a huge mixed martial arts fan. Vladimir is a big deal in Bulgaria as a mixed martial arts commentator, analyst, and podcaster. He was known as The Bulgarian Cowboy in the Western world. In addition, he has a YouTube channel where he talks about his love of esports, one of the fastest-growing fields in the world. Our testing and reviewing method.
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