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KATA are the formal exercises of Karate-do, having been passed down from the old masters. Containing the self defence movements of karate they are a logical sequence of blocking, punching, striking and kicking including locks and takedowns.

Both mental and physical aspects of the performance are important. For tournaments, the correct attitude, use of power, good balance, rhythm, co-ordination and proper breathing are essential as well as showing a clear understanding of the principles that the kata contains. Each movement of the kata must be done in the correct order and on the correct line of movement. Some but not all kata must start and finish in the same place. Some variations in movement exist for the same Kata between styles, but this does not detract from the performance of that Kata. Points are awarded by the Judges(out of 10) and in the first instance the highest and lowest scores are not counted. The remaining points are totalled for the contestants score.

Recently the use of three judges with flags for determining a winner has been used by the World Karate Federation. Several rounds may be required to decide the final placing. In the early rounds the kata must be chosen first from the list of 8 JKF Shiteigata, but in the final rounds a free kata may be chosen.

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