Kihon is the practice of fundamental techniques: blocking, punching, striking, and kicking. A karateka may learn them in a matter of months, yet fail to master them after a life's worth of training. Hence, basic techniques demand regular practice, applied with as much concentration and effort as possible. According to the late Sensei Masatoshi Nakayama, karateka must practice kihon with the following in mind:

Form — Balance and stability are necessary to basic techniques. Karate movements involve shifting the body's center of gravity, which demands good balance and control of the body. In addition, the karateka requires stable joints, stances, and posture to deliver or withstand maximum impact in or from a blow.

Power and speed — The karateka who excels, does so by maximizing her muscular power through kime, the ability to concentrate the greatest amount of force at the point of attack or block. The karateka's power is directly related to the speed of her techniques, but speed is ineffective without proper control.

Concentration and relaxation of power — One cannot generate maximum power if punches or kicks rely solely on the muscles of the arms or legs. Power comes from concentrating all of one's strength, from every part of the body, on the target. The karateka must generate and use power efficiently, by staying relaxed and delivering maximum power only at the point of impact.

Strengthening muscle power — The karateka gives kihon effect with strong, elastic muscles, developed through constant, earnest training. The karateka must know which muscles to use in techniques.

Rhythm and timing — No technique takes place in isolation; in combining basic techniques, the karateka should pay attention to the rhythm of her techniques as well as the techniques themselves.

Hips — Proper use of the hips is a crucial part of executing karate techniques. Hip rotation or hip vibration adds power to blocks and punches, and it is essential to quick, stable transitions between stances. The hips play a key role in effective kicks as well.

Breathing — Coordinating breathing with techniques enhances one's ability to relax and maximize power in techniques. Exhaling when finishing a strike, for example, is necessary to developing kime.