Kihon – “Basic or Fundamental movements (On your own)”
Kihon enables Karateka to learn and practice the fundamental techniques of Shotokan Karate in a structured manner. Most Kihon is performed in linear fashion, stepping forwards or backwards as the techniques & combination dictate.
As the level and experience of the Karateka increases, as does the complexity & degree of difficulty of the techniques they are required to do.
Kata – “mould, model, style, shape, data type”
Kata is a culmination of techniques and combinations in a set form. Once again, as the level and experience of the Karateka increases, so does the complexity & difficulty of the Kata he/she will be asked to perform. Differing from Kihon, Kata are most often not linear in fashion, but more directional basing themselves on what could be classed as an ‘imaginary fight’ against multiple attackers.
Each Kata has its own underlying style. Some are strong and dynamic with a massive generation of power and robust movements as if to drive through oncoming opponents. Some are lightening quick in pace and movement as if the Karateka is attacked my multiple enemies in quick succession.
Kumite – “wooden joints”
Sparring (With partner/s, usually just one)
Do not mistake Kumite for ‘fighting’. Kumite is a method, used to structure opponent based training and competition which has rules and regulations to it. A fight situation is something qute different.
From a basic level, Kumite utilises basic techniques (aggressive and defensive) to hone Karateka ‘Zanshin’ (awareness), reaction, speed, power and accuracy as well as fighting spirit.
At a higher level, free-kumite allows Karateka to utilise all techniques in their repertoire, whilst still adhering to a structure.
In addition to the above, it can also be said that Dojo Etiquette is a fourth element, however Dojo Etiquette should encapsulate your whole Karate training through Kihon, Kata and Kumite.