Learning Resource

Shiranamikai Channel on YouTube
YouTube is an excellent starting point for karate reference. But how do you know if you are copying the correct form? A side-effect of karate being one of the most popular martial arts is that is also one of the most evolved and in the case of the JKA, most refined. It is for this reason that we have our own channel so check out our recommendations and add Shiranamikai’s YouTube channel to your favourites! We’ve listed two of our playlists below…

‘Shitei’ katas of JKA Shotokan Karate
The JKA Shotokan ‘Shitei’ katas comprise the five Heians and Tekki Shodan (the first of three performed in kiba dachi, horse riding stance). Kihon Kata/Taikyoku Shodan is a training kata commonly performed as part of one’s first grading.

Katas are generally performed in the correct order for each subsequent grade. Belt colours apply to JKA England gradings.

  • Beginner/White to Orange belt,
    10th-9th Kyu: Kihon Kata/Taikyoku Shodan
  • Orange to Red belt, 9th-8th Kyu: Heian Shodan
  • Red to Yellow belt, 8th-7th Kyu: Heian Nidan
  • Yellow to Green belt, 7th-6th Kyu: Heian Sandan
  • Green to Purple belt, 6th-5th Kyu: Heian Yondan
  • Purple to Purple with white stripe belt,
    5th-4th Kyu: Heian Godan
  • Purple Stripe to Brown belt, 4th-3rd Kyu: Tekki Shodan

‘Sentei’ katas of JKA Shotokan Karate
The JKA Shotokan ‘Sentei’ katas comprise Bassai Dai, Kanku Dai, Jion and Empi. Each one is a key representative of Shotokan karate and demonstrates well, the dynamic movements so indicative of this style.

The four sentei katas are generally learned in the order in which they are listed here but a practitioner may favour one more than another depending on their own body type. They are a requisite for black belts.

For JKA England gradings:

  • Brown to Brown with White Stripe belt, 3rd-2nd Kyu:
    choice of Bassai Dai or Kanku Dai
  • Brown Stripe to Brown Double-Stripe belt, 2nd-1st Kyu:
    choice of Bassai Dai, Kanku Dai, Jion or Empi

Compare with ‘Shitei’ katas, Heians: Shodan, Nidan, Sandan, Yondan & Godan, and Tekki Shodan.

Videos and books are fantastic learning aids but are no substitute for regular training. It is only through consistent dojo training that you will learn to ‘feel’. Then, once you can feel karate, you will begin to truly understand karate
Austin Biesty, Instructor


Karate books
Good karate books are out there, it’s just a matter knowing where to look. Your library may even be prepared to order one for you! But if not, head to one of the larger bookstores for a browse. Shiranamikai’s favourite is Foyles flagship bookstore on Charing Cross Road, London. They have always had the best martial arts books section of any store and the wide variety of stock will appeal to all tastes. Of course, the complete set of Best Karate by Masatoshi Nakayama is on the shelves too! Ignore the store guide and head up to the third floor where the sports section is really located. Some of the more recent publications from Japan include a DVD which may seem a little ‘old hat’ nowadays, but the quality of DVDs is still far superior to online video. An added benefit of books and DVDs is being able to better control the content which makes them ideal for children.
Here are some of our favourites…

Technical / developmental

  • Best Karate series by Masatoshi Nakayama
  • Learn Karate (includes DVD) by Yuko Takahashi
  • The Karate Way (includes DVD) by The Japan Karate Association
  • Dynamic Karate by Masatoshi Nakayama
  • Perfecting Kumite by Masahiko Tanaka
  • Shotokan Kata by Schlatt
  • Shotokan Karate by Keinosuke Enoeda
  • Practical Karate by Masatoshi Nakayama

Further reading
If you wish to delve a little deeper into the philosophical side of karate or read about a particular person’s journey then you may find these books interesting…

  • Karate do Nyumon by Gichin Funakoshi
  • Moving Zen by CW Nichol
  • The Shotokan Dictionary by Schlatt
  • The Essence of Karate by Gichin Funakoshi
  • Karate, My Way of Life by Gichin Funakoshi

Other martial art books
It’s best to stick with one martial art but that doesn’t stop you from researching some of the others…

  • Angry White Pyjamas by Robert Twigger
  • The Sherlock Holmes School of Self-Defence by E.W.Barton-Wright