What is the Shotokan Karate Kata Hakutsuru?

Kata is a critical element of the martial art of Shotokan Karate, and it is often said to be “the heart of karate”. Kata is a series of choreographed movements designed to simulate a melee combat situation. These movements are called “wazas” and by performing wazas, a karateka or martial artist can gain greater knowledge, understanding and skill in Shotokan Karate. The Shotokan Karate Kata Hakutsuru is one such form that has been passed down from generation to generation since the late 1500s.

Kata can be divided into two categories: the Heian kata, which consists of five kata for basic training, and the Tekki kata, which contains three kata for advanced training. The Shotokan Karate Kata Hakutsuru belongs to the latter group, and it is also known as “Niseishi” or “24 Steps”. This kata was created by the great Higaonna Kanryo, founder of the non-classical style of Shotokan Karate.

History Of Shotokan Karate Kata Hakutsuru

Shotokan Karate Kata Hakutsuru is believed to have originated in Okinawa and it is a product of the combination of the martial arts taught to Higaonna Kanryo and his teacher’s techniques, who was called Aragaki Seisho. Aragaki Seisho was a student of Matsumura Soken, who was Matsumura Sokon’s teacher and well-known as “the father of Okinawan martial arts”. Matsumura is said to have combined three styles of Chinese martial arts with the local combative methods of the Okinawan people to create what would eventually be known as today as the “Shuri-te style”.

In the late 19th century, Kanryo Higaonna brought back the Niseishi kata from his extensive travels abroad and incorporated it into his own style of Shuri-te Karate. Niseishi was adapted and improved upon by Higaonna and renamed “Hakutsuru”, which means “white crane”. The original Niseishi katas were actually split into two forms by Higaonna; the open hand form known as “Peichin Niseishi” and the weapon-based form known as “Kumite Niseishi”. After his death, Gichin Funakoshi, founder of the modern form of Shotokan Karate, merged them into one form which would eventually become known as Shotokan Karate Kata Hakutsuru.

Movement Breakdown Of Hakutsuru

Hakutsuru’s movements are very lively and creative. It is generally performed by one person, however, it does feature a few partner exercises designed to simulate combat between two opponents. The movement breakdown of this kata can be divided into eight part:

  • 1. Ni : Two steps forward with a Shuto Uke
  • 2. San : A circular turning maneuver (Han Tsuki Geri or Tsukurite Uke) with a jump at its conclusion
  • 3. Kyo : Alternating Mae Keage (front snap kick) and Mae Geri (front thrust kick)
  • 4. Go : Sai Roman Shutogi (spear-hand thrust) with a jump at its conclusion
  • 5. Roku : Alternating Chudan Tsuki (middle punch) and Uraken Tsuki (backfist)
  • 6. Shichi : Kick off with a Gekiso Tsuki (counter punch) with a jump at the end
  • 7. Hachi : Alternating Hototsu Shutogi (inward-outward thrust) and Uraken Tsuki
  • 8. Ku : Finish off with an Ura Zuki or Ura Zuki Tsuki (reverse punch)

Benefits Of Practicing Hakutsuru

Practicing Hakutsuru can be beneficial for developing your physical strength, speed agility and your overall martial arts skills. It is considered one of the most difficult kata because of its fast movements and complex body alignments; however, due to this difficulty, it can challenge even experienced Shotokan Karate practitioners and help push them to their limits while still retaining an element of fun. However, this also makes it especially suitable for beginners since it can help them strengthen their basic movements and fundamentals as they become more confident in their martial arts pursuits as they progress through their Shotokan Karate training.

Also, studying for and performing Hakutsuru can give students more than just physical conditioning; it can also provide mental conditioning with its strategic movements and technique combinations. Many people believe that studying for this kata is like studying how a fighter could use different strikes from different angles in order to best defeat their opponent; the practitioner will learn how to use the fewest moves possible in order to win a fight or evade an attack. This can help give them a better understanding of how to use their energy efficiently and make wise decisions in a martial arts situation.


Shotokan Karate Kata Hakutsuru is one of the more challenging kata in Shotokan Karate; however, it can be incredibly rewarding when finally mastered due to its complexity. Its movements are intense yet deliberate, and its techniques have been used in different forms by generations of martial artists before us. During the practice of this form, you not only develop physical strength, speed agility and martial arts skills but also learn how to control your energy efficiently and make more strategic decisions during combat scenarios.

The History of Shotokan Karate Kata Hakutsuru: Frequently Asked Questions

Shotokan karate is a Japanese martial art that focuses on self-defense techniques through the use of various punches, kicks, and strikes. One of the key components of Shotokan karate is kata, which refers to a series of pre-arranged movements that simulate a real self-defense situation. One of the most well-known kata in Shotokan karate is Hakutsuru. In this blog post, we’ll cover some of the most frequently asked questions about the history of Shotokan karate kata Hakutsuru.

What Is Hakutsuru?

Hakutsuru is one of the 26 Shotokan karate kata created by Gichin Funakoshi, the founder of Shotokan karate. The name „Hakutsuru“ means „white crane“ in Japanese, and the kata is designed to simulate the movements of a crane.

Who Created Hakutsuru?

As mentioned earlier, Hakutsuru was created by Gichin Funakoshi, who is widely regarded as the father of modern karate. Funakoshi started practicing Okinawan karate when he was a child, and went on to create Shotokan karate as we know it today. He created Hakutsuru and other kata to aid in the development of karateka (karate practitioners).

What Are The Key Movements In Hakutsuru?

Hakutsuru is comprised of 62 movements, and is meant to simulate the movements of a crane. Some of the key movements in Hakutsuru include:

  • Kick and block
  • Knifehand strike
  • Elbow strike
  • Spinning backfist

What Is The Purpose Of Hakutsuru?

Like all Shotokan karate kata, Hakutsuru has several purposes. One of the main purposes of Hakutsuru is to help karateka develop their strength, flexibility, balance, and coordination. Additionally, the kata is designed to simulate a real self-defense situation, so practicing Hakutsuru helps karateka develop their self-defense skills.

What Is The History Of Hakutsuru?

The exact history of Hakutsuru is not well-documented, but it is known that Gichin Funakoshi created the kata in the early 20th century. Some sources suggest that the kata was inspired by a white crane that Funakoshi saw during a visit to China. However, there is no concrete evidence to support this claim.

How Do You Practice Hakutsuru?

To practice Hakutsuru, you first need to learn the movements of the kata. This should be done under the guidance of a certified Shotokan karate instructor. Once you have learned the movements, you can practice Hakutsuru on your own or with a partner. Practicing the kata regularly will help you develop your strength, balance, and coordination, as well as your self-defense skills.

Final Thoughts

Hakutsuru is one of the most well-known kata in Shotokan karate, and for good reason. By practicing this kata, you can develop your strength, balance, and coordination, as well as your self-defense skills. If you’re interested in learning more about Shotokan karate kata, including Hakutsuru, talk to a certified Shotokan karate instructor to get started.

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