[ kah-tuh ]
/ ˈkɑ tə /
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an exercise consisting of several of the specific movements of a martial art, especially a pattern prescribed for defending oneself against several attackers, used in judo and karate training.
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Origin of kata

1950–55; <Japanese: shape, pattern

Other definitions for kata (2 of 2)


variant of cata-: katabasis; katamorphism.
Also especially before a vowel, kat- .
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does kata mean?

A kata is an exhibition of a martial arts skill or movement, especially a pattern of such moves, such as a sequence designed to defend against an attack. Katas are primarily practiced in karate and judo and can be done as part of a competition or as a way of practicing the martial art.

One of the forms of karate practiced as a sport is known as kata. It involves individual competitors performing a rehearsed set of karate techniques (often called forms) before judges. Each kata is intended to demonstrate proper control and understanding of karate technique and movement. There are more than 100 katas recognized in karate competition. The kata form of competitive karate was first included as an Olympic event in the Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2021 (along with the traditional sparring form called kumite).

There are a variety of katas used in judo, including those involving throws (nage-no-kata), grappling and pinning (katame-no-kata), and defending and attacking (itsutsu-no-kata), among others.

The word kata is sometimes used to refer to similar routines outside of martial arts, such as those used in Japanese kabuki theater.

Example: We were never allowed to spar until we completed our daily katas.

Where does kata come from?

The first records of the word kata in English come from the 1950s. It’s directly borrowed from a Japanese word meaning “shape,” “pattern,” or “form.” In karate, specific katas are often referred to as forms.

Katas are associated with Japanese culture and martial arts practices but are believed to trace their origins to ancient Chinese practices developed in the martial art of kung fu. Katas were first developed at a time when martial arts skills were primarily passed on through the repetition of sequences of punching, kicking, and breathing. Karate and karate katas were developed in Okinawa.

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What are some synonyms for kata?

What are some words that often get used in discussing kata?

How is kata used in real life?

The term kata is closely associated with karate and judo. Katas can be performed competitively or as part of the practice of a martial art.

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True or False?

The sparring form of karate is known as kata.

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British Dictionary definitions for kata (1 of 2)

/ (ˈkætə) /

an exercise consisting of a sequence of the specific movements of a martial art, used in training and designed to show skill in technique

Word Origin for kata

C20: Japanese, literally: shape, pattern

British Dictionary definitions for kata (2 of 2)


a variant of cata-
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012