Kata is often described as a set sequence of karate moves organized into a pre-arranged fight against imaginary opponents. More appropriately, each technique within a kata is a stand alone technique which may be applied to a wide variety of circumstances, which with sufficient practice will enable the Karateka to defend him or herself.
The kata consists of kicks, punches, sweeps, strikes, blocks, and throws. Body movement in various kata includes stepping, twisting, turning, dropping to the ground, and jumping. In Shotokan, kata is not a performance or a demonstration, but is for individual karateka to practice full techniques—with every technique potentially a killing blow, while paying particular attention to form and timing (rhythm). As the karateka grows older, more emphasis is placed on the health benefits of practising kata, promoting fitness while keeping the body soft, supple, and agile.
Great importance and practice is placed on the practical application of these techniques, known as “Bunkai”.