Comparison of karate styles

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The table contains a comparison of karate styles. Some of the distinguishing features are listed, such as lineage, general form of stances, the balance of hard and soft techniques, and the number and names of kata forms. [1]



The four earliest karate styles developed at Japan are Shotokan, Wado-ryu, Shito-ryu, and Goju-ryu; most styles of Karate are derived from these four. [2] The first three of these styles find their origins in the Shorin-Ryu style from Shuri, Okinawa, while Goju-ryu finds its origins in Naha. Shuri karate is rather different from Naha karate, drawing on different predecessor influences. Shito-ryu can be regarded as a blend of Shuri and Naha traditions as its kata incorporate both Shuri and Naha kata. [3]

When it comes to individual karate styles; Shotokan involves long, deep stances and powerful long range techniques. Shito-ryu, on the other hand, uses more upright stances and stresses speed rather than power in its long and middle range techniques. Wado-ryu too employs shorter, more natural stances and the style is characterised by the emphasis on body shifting to avoid attacks. Kyokushin, an extremely hard style, involves breaking more often than the other styles and full contact, knockdown sparring as a main part of its training. [4] Goju-ryu places emphasis on Sanchin kata and its rooted Sanchin stance, and it features grappling and close-range techniques.

Comparison of styles

StylesOriginDerived From Balance of hard and soft techniques Stances Representative Kata Number of kataReferences
Chitō-ryū Okinawa Shōrei-ryū or Naha-te, Shōrin-ryū both elements exist but more hard than softnaturalShi Ho Hai, Seisan, Ro Hai Sho, Niseishi, Bassai, Chinto, Sochin, Tenshin, Ro Hai Dai, Sanshiryu, Ryushan, Kusanku, Sanchin15 kata not including kihon and Bo kihon/kata
Gensei-ryū Okinawa Shuri-te and possibly Tomari-te.both, but mostly softdeep/naturalTen-i no Kata, Chi-i no Kata, Jin-i no Kata, Sansai, (Koryu) Naifanchi, (Koryu) Bassai, (Koryu) Kusanku or Koshokun (dai)7 or 8
Gōjū-ryū Okinawa Fujian White Crane and Naha-te.bothdeep/naturalSanchin, Tensho, Gekisai Dai/Sho, Seipai, Saifa, Suparinpei12
Gosoku-ryū Japan Gōjū-ryū, Shotokan bothdeep (beginner), natural (advanced)Gosoku, Rikyu, Denko Getsu, Tamashi46 including weapons kata
Isshin-ryū Okinawa Gōjū-ryū, Shōrin-ryū, Kobudō both, fast & hardnaturalSeisan, Naihanchi, Wansu, Passai, Chinto, Kusanku, Seiunchin, Sanchin, Sunsu15 including weapons kata
Kyokushin Japan Shotokan, Gōjū-ryū extremely hardnaturalSokogi, Pinan + ura,33 [4]
Shūkōkai Japan Gōjū-ryū & Shitō-ryū 60% hard, 40% softnaturalPinan, Bassai Dai, Seienchin, Saifa, Rōhai44
Shindō jinen-ryū Japan and Okinawa primarily Shuri-te like Shitō-ryū, but also Naha-te and Tomari-te bothdeep/naturalShimpa, Taisabaki 1-3, Sunakake no KonMore than 60 counting all kobudo kata
Shitō-ryū Japan and Okinawa Shuri-te and Naha-te bothdeep/naturalPinan, Bassai Dai, Seienchin, Saifa, Rōhai, Nipaipo94 [3]
Shindenkai Germany,Hamburg Kyokushin extremely hardnaturalKihon no Kata 1 , Kihon no Kata 2 , Kumite no Kata 1 , Kumite no Kata 2 , Hiji no Kata , Hiza no Kata, Jisen no Kata, Taikyoku Sono Ichi, Taikyoku Sono Ni, Taikyoku Sono San, Pinan Sono Ichi, Pinan Sono Ni, Pinan Sono San, Pinan Sono Yon, Pinan Sono Go, Sanchin no Kata,Tsuki no Kata, Tensho, Yantsu, Saiha, Gekusai Dai, Gekusai Sho, Sienchin, Kanku Dai24
Shōrin-ryū Okinawa Shuri-te, Tomari-te, Chinese martial arts both, primarily fast & hardnaturalFukyu, Pinan, Naihanchi, passai, kanku, seisan21
Shotokan Japan Shōrin-ryū and Shōrei-ryū 70% hard, 30% soft/fastdeep (beginner), longer (advanced)Unsu, 3 Taikyoku, 5 Heian, 3 Tekki, Jion, Kanku Dai, Bassai Dai, Empi, Sochin26 [3]
Shuri-ryū United States Shuri-te, Hsing-yi bothdeep/naturalWunsu, O-Naihanchi, Sanchin15
Uechi-ryū Fuzhou, Fujian Province & Okinawa Pangai-noon Kung Fu, Huzunquan [5] Naha-te half-hard, half-softmainly naturalSanchin, Seisan, Sanseirui8
Wadō-ryū Japan and Okinawa Shindō Yōshin-ryū Jujutsu, Tomari-te and Shotokan both, primarily softmainly naturalPrimary: Pinan, Kushanku, Naihanchi, Seishan, and Chintō. Secondary: Jion, Wanshu, Jitte, Rohai, Bassai, and Niseishi [6] 15
Yōshūkai Japan and Okinawa Chitō-ryū 90% hard, 10% soft (similar in hardness to Kyokushin-kai and/or Sabkai Enshin karate)mainly naturalShi Ho Hai, Seisan, Ro Hai Sho, Ro Hai Dai, Niseishi, Bassai, Chinto, Sochin, Tenshin, Sanshiryu, Ryusan, Kusanku, Sanchin18

See also

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Gōjū-ryū Style of karate

Gōjū-ryū (剛柔流), Japanese for "hard-soft style", is one of the main traditional Okinawan styles of karate, featuring a combination of hard and soft techniques. Both principles, hard and soft, come from the famous martial arts book used by Okinawan masters during the 19th and 20th centuries, the Bubishi. , which means hard, refers to closed hand techniques or straight linear attacks; , which means soft, refers to open hand techniques and circular movements. Gōjū-ryū incorporates both circular and linear movements into its curriculum, combining hard striking attacks such as kicks and close hand punches with softer open hand circular techniques for attacking, blocking, and controlling the opponent, including joint locks, grappling, takedowns, and throws.

Wadō-ryū Style of karate

Wadō-ryū (和道流) is one of the four major karate styles and was founded by Hironori Otsuka (1892-1982). The style itself places emphasis on not just striking, but tai sabaki, joint locks and throws. It has its origins within Tomari-te karate, but also gains influence from Shito-Ryu and Shotokan, however it was massively influenced by JiuJitsu, which explains the emphasis on concepts such as tai sabaki, noru and nagashi sabaki.

Kyokushin Combat sports organization

Kyokushin (極真) is a full-contact martial art, school of Karate originating from Japan. It is a style of stand-up fighting and is rooted in a philosophy of self-improvement, discipline and hard training.

Shitō-ryū Form of karate

Shitō-ryū (糸東流) is a form of karate that was founded in 1934 by Kenwa Mabuni. A synthesis of various different Okinawan schools of martial arts, the Shitō-ryū is primarily practiced in Osaka. Due to both controversies in Kenwa Mabuni's line of succession and Mabuni's extensive efforts to popularize the martial art form in Japan, there exist many successor karate schools that claim Shitō-ryū as an influence.

Isshin-Ryū is a style of Okinawan karate founded by Tatsuo Shimabuku in 1956. Isshin-Ryū karate is largely a synthesis of Shorin-ryū karate, Gojū-ryū karate, and kobudō. The name means, literally, "one heart method". In 1989 there were 336 branches of Isshin-ryū throughout the world, most of which were concentrated in the United States.

Shōrei-ryū Style of karate

Shorei Ryu is a style of Okinawan karate and is one of the two oldest Karate styles, alongside Shōrin-ryū. It was developed at the end of the 19th century by Higaonna Kanryō in Naha, Okinawa.

Ji'in, Jion, and Jitte form a group of kata used in Shotokan and other karate styles, beginning with the same characteristic kamae of the left hand covering the right, which apparently has roots in ancient Chinese boxing. Their origin is thought to be from the Tomari-te school, however Hirokazu Kanazawa speculates that the Jion kata were devised in the Jionji 慈恩寺, the Jion temple, where martial arts were famously practiced. From there, Kanazawa believes the Jion kata were spread into the Tomari region.

Sōchin (壯鎭) is a kata practiced in several styles of karate. It may have derived from Dragon style kung fu, and was taught in the Naha-te school in Okinawa by Seisho Arakaki. It was then passed down to Shitō-ryū. Later, a variation of it was introduced into the Shotokan style by Gichin Funakoshi's son, Yoshitaka. Some branches of Tang Soo Do have added it to their curriculum under the name "Sojin".

Hironori Ōtsuka was a Japanese master of karate who created the Wadō-ryū style of karate. He was the first Grand Master of Wadō-ryū karate, and received high awards within Japan for his contributions to karate.

Chōjun Miyagi Okinawan karateka

Chōjun Miyagi was an Okinawan martial artist who founded the Gōjū-ryū school of karate by blending Okinawan and Chinese influences.

Gosoku-ryu Style of karate

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Kenwa Mabuni Okinawan karateka

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Chitō-ryū Style of karate

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Chintō (鎮東) is an advanced kata practiced in many styles of karate. According to legend, it is named after a stranded Chinese sailor, sometimes referred to as Annan, whose ship crashed on the Okinawan coast. To survive, Chintō kept stealing from the crops of the local people. Matsumura Sōkon, a Karate master and chief bodyguard to the Ryūkyūan king, was sent to defeat Chintō. In the ensuing fight, however, Matsumura found himself equally matched by the stranger, and consequently sought to learn his techniques.

Japan Karate Federation The governing body of sport karate

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Arakaki Seishō Okinawan martial arts master

Arakaki Seishō was a prominent Okinawan martial arts master who influenced the development of several major karate styles. He was known by many other names, including Aragaki Tsuji Pechin Seisho.

Okinawan martial arts Okinawan martial arts

Okinawan martial arts refers to the martial arts, such as karate, tegumi and Okinawan kobudō, which originated among the indigenous people of Okinawa Island. Due to its central location, Okinawa was influenced by various cultures with a long history of trade and cultural exchange, including Japan, China and Southeast Asia, that greatly influenced the development of martial arts on Okinawa.


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