3 Kinds Of Tanden Used In Karate Techniques

what is tanden?

Tanden, in Chinese pronounced as Dan Tien – shared for those who love Google – is the centre of the body. It is maybe better to verbalise it as the centre of gravity which lies inside the body.

Here's the vertical line, using Seichusen as a central axis.

Both images above and below show Tanden as the white dot — inside the body.

So not just "an inch below the navel. Not on the surface. It goes straight through by Seichusen and so lies on centre line, in the centre.

seichusen, tanden and seichumen

Drawing a line straight down to the ground from the top of the head till the ground, the centre of gravity is slightly ahead of the middle of the ankle. 

The black dot is the location where the centre of gravity is on the floor. When it comes to stances and weight distribution, that concept is a more complete approach than say "60/40" because it talks about forward, back, left AND right (instead of only forward and back).

Tanden is imaginary. It's your point of focus.

The white-dot location is "Seika Tanden", but also "Ge-Tanden". Usually, most simply call it "Tanden". 

That said, there are 3 👇

3 kinds of tanden (seika-Tanden is well known)

Ge-Tanden is the 'lowest' Tanden, also called Seika-Tanden. This is the one most referred to, but there are more. 

3 to be precise:

  1. Jo-Tanden
  2. Chu-Tanden
  3. Ge-Tanden

Jo-Tanden is the forehead. But smaller. Tanden is always the tiniest dot you can imagine — it's not a big area.

Practically though, it's different.

When you think of a "true" Jo-Tanden, or any of the Tanden really... it's hard to imagine how you can use it.

Think about it.

Is it a muscle? Bone? Tendon?

Is it ANY part of the body known by doctors, physical therapists or science?

No. Tanden is imaginary... and put plainly: it doesn't exist.


When you imagine Tanden to be your source of power, you're forced to move from the center which then allows you to move more smoothly and use your body weight more effectively.

let's look at 2 core karate techniques: Kick and punch

When you punch, your attention goes to the upper body and fist. Yes, you may hurt your opponent a lot, but what about the next movement?

If you focus on punching "from Tanden" you're more likely to create correct stability and power output that STILL allows you to move and stay centered.

When you kick it's the same thing...

  • your body will remain more straight up (instead of leaning back excessively)
  • your kick will have more penetrating power (instead of pushing power)
  • you suffer (no or) less Itsuki which allows you to connect follow-ups more easily EVEN if you miss target (instead of your kick being a single technique)


Although Tanden is a concept and not a muscle that you can control, it helps you to focus on the AREA that needs attention.

When you punch 'from' and 'with' Tanden, you'll get that Karate punch result. The same is true for Seichusen, which is an imaginary line that does not actually exist, but helps you to control your body movement better.

The concept of Tanden raises your awareness.

That said, it's more powerful if you know exactly what to do... 

So up next 👇

tanden made practical

Still, you may not know what to do next time you go to the Dojo...

...so let's make this more practical.

Image from an in-depth article inside Ido Kihon Pro

Jo-Tanden is located at your forehead. Or simply: head. Because that's easier to focus on.

For Chu-Tanden, you can say sternum. And chest. 

Ge-Tanden is easy: hip.

For example, in Junzuki, keep all Tanden in line, so you can move correctly from A to B keeping your body erect: it's easier to put your body weight behind your strike.

A practical key is to "push your hip" forward.

Don't you think that's easier to execute than "move from Tanden"?

Anyway, time to wrap this up.

Or rather: move on. Study "Seichusen". Now you know about the 3 Tanden, Seichusen's vertical line is easier to understand — especially the high-level "bend and restore" skill.

==> Read more on Seichusen here.


Discover how to execute kihon kumite correctly and know the underlying principles so you never worry about "the correct way" ever again — including hidden techniques revealed by sakagami sensei

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