September 4, 2022

Basic Karate Moves for Beginners

Learning Karate is no different from building a house. You should master basic moves before advancing to higher levels. Read this article to know about basic karate moves for beginners.

Karate, also known as Shotokan Karate, is a martial art created to physically defend yourself against attackers.

Unlike others with endless movements, Karate consists of only a handful of moves and techniques. Yet do not underestimate it! You are capable of knocking out an enemy in seconds if you get the hang of this martial art.

So what is the best way to become a Karate master? Do not surprised at the answer: practice basic moves again and again. Scroll down to learn more.

Why Basic Karate Moves are Essential

Even complicated Karate moves are built from the basic Karate movements for a newbie. Frequent practice of the basics will train your muscle memory so that you will do all the moves naturally and skillfully, even before conscious thought in a fight.

Basic moves are essential in Karate

Imagine you are fighting against a skilled opponent. If you have not trained the basic techniques often enough, chances are you will be busy thinking about how to put your feet or your arms right before attacking. This will deprive you of the time to focus on strategies and tactics while allowing a split second for your opponent to strike and score a point.

In a nutshell, it is essential to practice basic Karte moves for beginners again and again. I dare to say that one can master the art of Karate by learning mostly basics without advancing to higher levels.

How to Practice Basic Moves

The basics in Karate goes under the name Kihon. It includes  Stances (Tachikata), Punches (Tsuki), Blocks (Uke), and Kicks (Geri). I will go through the techniques of each and especially, how to do it properly. You may find it too easy to practice at some points, but the key is to understand every move and “feel’ it. Do not rush at any costs!

Stances (Tachikata)

Stances are basically standing, but there are some techniques required to do stances correctly. Proper stances will allow us to maintain balance while attacking and defending with maximum effect.

basic karate moves for beginners

There are a handful of different stances, each of which will match different situations, and I will discuss that later. Now I am focusing on how to do specific stances properly.

Side Stance (Kiba Dachi)

  • Parallel and wide feet
  • Straight back
  • Knees and feet pointing a bit inwards
  • Weight mostly on the lower body

Back Stance (Kokutsu Dachi)

  • Straight front leg with feet pointing forwards
  • Both knees bent (front slightly, back strongly)
  • One and a half shoulder distance between two feet
  • Upward pelvis
  • Straight back and neck
  • Weight mostly on the foot (70% back, 30% front)

Front Stance (Zenkutsu Dachi)

  • Extended back
  • Rear leg straight at the knee
  • Bent front knee
  • Slightly bend back knee
  • Front foot straightforward at the knee
  • Back foot turned out 30-45 degrees (not 90 degrees)
  • Feet open wider than shoulder-width
  • Weight mostly on the leg (60% front, 40% back)

In Shotokan Karate, there are 15 stances in total. However, these 3 are of the most common which you can apply in a variety of situations. Now that we are only learning the basics, practice them first!

Punches (Tsuki)

If you attend a Karate class, you probably find punches the one practiced most. Typically, you will learn how to throw a punch since the very first lesson and repeat over and again later on.

basic karate moves for beginners

Most Karate punches share one thing: they make its way to the target in the shortest path – a straight line. This is to increase the speed and force while battling.

Before digging in different punches, learn how to make a fist properly first:

  • Curl your fingers until the tip of each touches its palm
  • Position your thumb across the middle of your middle finger and index finger
  • Strike with two knuckles of your index finger and middle finger
  • Keep your wrist straight in every strike

It is time to explore genuine Karate punches!

Straight Punch (Choku-Zuki)

  • Start with a natural stance
  • Punch with the right arm pushing out, palm facing down
  • Right leg stepping forward at the same time
  • Pull the other arm in, palm facing up

Front Lunge Punch (Oi-Zuki)

  • Step out into a front stance with the punching leg
  • Throw the punch with the arms as in straight punch
  • Push the front hip and pectoral forward to add force

Blocks (Uke)

In Karate, we do not attack first. Rather, we execute blocks to defend ourselves from the physical attacks of opponents. If doing blocks effectively, we can avoid the hit and make a counter-attack one second later.

Karate down blocks

Down Block (Gedan Barai)

  • Start with the blocking arm at the ear and the non-blocking arm at the height of the belly button
  • The blocking arm slides down along the top of the other and makes its way downwards
  • Bring the non-blocking arm to the hip into ready position
  • Step out into the front stance as you finish the block

Rising Block (Age-Uke)

  • Start with the blocking arm at the hip and the non-blocking arm pointing upwards (fingers relaxed)
  • Step out into a shortened stance (moto-dachi)
  • Raise the blocking arm in front of the non-blocking one
  • Step out into the front stance
  • Fully extend the blocking arm  up, forearm facing out
  • Meanwhile, bring the non-blocking arm to the hip, palm facing up

There seems to be a lot of steps, but in real life, you need to the sequences of actions in seconds. Do not worry! Practice over and again, and you shall be fine!

Kicks (Geri)

Karate kicks are difficult to perform yet extraordinarily powerful when done properly. To do so, you need to do a stable stance and maintain a good balance. In this article, I will only teach you how to do front snap kick. You can learn about others when you are competent enough.

Front Snap Kick (Mae-Geri Keage)

  • Do a stable stance
  • Raise your kicking knee
  • Curl the toes to expose the ball of the foot
  • Lean back a bit to extend the length of the leg

What’s more important than the kick is how you return to the normal position. Focusing on the kick but not the “landing” will reduce the power of the kick itself.

The Bottom Line – Basic Karate Moves for Beginners

Now you know all the basic moves in Shotokan Karate. It is time to practice! One last thing, practice makes perfect and never underestimate any moves. I will be here waiting for you to come back as a Karate master!

If you have any questions during practice, leave them here so I can answer you as soon as possible. Thank you for reading.

Eugene Hardy

Eugene is a professional Muay Thai fighter, with several years of experience. Also, a black belt holder. He actively participates in tournaments and provides training to his students. Eugene started this blog to share his experiences with Martial Arts.

View all posts by Eugene Hardy →

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