I am specifically asking this in the sense of how Katas are executed. I heard somewhere that Shotokan is more stiff, and strong, but I'm not really sure.

  • I'd also like to know if there are completely different katas in Gōjū-ryū that are not existent in Shotokan and visa-verse.
  • Does Gōjū-ryū have a limited amount of sparring like Shotokan?

3 Answers 3


In general, Shotokan will have longer, lower stances, while Goju will have higher, more upright stances.

Shotokan stylists have a reputation for focusing on Kihon (the basics). Expect to do the same kick or punch over and over, working on the details.

The amount of sparring done in a school is pretty much up to the teacher, based on the way he was taught, and his particular inclinations. Some Shotokan schools may spar more than others. Likewise with Goju. Karate stylists, in general, do not emphasize tournament competition to the same degree that Tae Kwon Do does. There are pros and cons to competing and not competing.

There is no overlap between the katas of the two styles, according to their kata lists on black belt wiki:


I am specifically asking this in the sense of how Katas are executed.

I am basing my response to this question on the videos supplied above. Thank you Kid! Certainly stance length and height is slightly different. However, zenkutsu dachi in both styles looks long and low to me.

In my mind the main difference in the two styles' kata is hip position technique to technique. And the order of power generation. Goju-Ryu looks to make primary power from body vibration, sink, and shift. Shotokan kata make power with hip rotation (hanmi and shomen), shift, sink, and vibration.

Thank you.


There is a lot talked about kata from different styles, things like how one style might be more linear or another more circular. One style might be more stiff or strong, hard and external and another might be soft and internal...

It's largely nonsense.

Kata and forms of all unarmed styles based on Chinese kung-fu[1] are made up primarily (but not exclusively) of stand up grappling methods. Things like arm locks, throws, chokes, takedowns, body manipulation etc.

How the kata is performed and what it contains are entirely different things. The performance in virtually all cases has been idealised, and often overemphasised as well, I believe deliberately as various ways of obfuscating the reality of the methods, so you would never in reality apply a technique exactly as it's seen and performed in the kata. The kata can only show you how to do it and possibly give hints through stance and speed.

A kata performance is made up of postures (kamae), these postures have no specific meaning within the context of the performance of the kata. They are simply body shapes. You will see and perform things that look like punches, or blocks, or even open hand strikes. Your teacher might even (incorrectly) call them punches or blocks. It's likely that what they look like and are called and what they really are is entirely different.

“All kata use the so-called postures (kamae). In fact, there are many kinds of postures and many kinds of kata. While learning these postures should not be totally ignored, we must be careful not to overlook that they are just forms or templates of sort; it is the function of their application which needs to be mastered.” – Choki Motobu

Therefore you have to get out of your head the circularity or linearity of the movement, or the hardness or softness of it, or the comparative apparent stiffness or flexibility during the performance.

In all[1] cases for all[1] styles, from the softest Tai Chi, to the hardest Kyokushin Karate, to make them practical, you have to take the techniques out of the katas and perform them against opponents for yourself to see how you need to do it to make it work.

[1] The one style which has me entirely stumped at the moment is Wing Chun. The conventions used in it's forms are particularly obscure and attenuated relative to earlier styles it was derived from. So far it's completely opaque.

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