Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Koden and Shinden Kata of Naha-Te Karate-Jutsu

The major Kata attributed to the Naha region of Okinawa include: Sanchin, Saifa, Seiyunchin, Sochin, Shisochin, Sepai, Seisan, Kururunfa, Unsu, Niseishi, Suparinpei, Sanseiru and Nipai. Most of these kata are credited as having been brought to Okinawa by the Great Master Kanryo Higashionna. However, Nepai (Nipaipo) was brought to Okinawan by the Chinese tea merchant and white crane instructor, Gokenki. Sochin, Unsu, and Niseishi were either brought to Okinawa or were created by Seisho Arakaki.

The kata of Naha Te are divided into Koden (ancient) and Shinden (modern) each new generation of the system has formed there own Kai-ha (Associated factions) and continued to evolve the style by creating new kata.

Higaonna Kanryo Sensei is the acknowledged founder of Naha-Te, and was the teacher of Miyagi Chojun Sensei. Miyagi Chojun Sensei further developed Naha-te into Gojuryu Karate-do, he created Tensho kata, based on the Chinese Kata Rokishu, and in 1940, Miyagi Chojun Sensei, and Nagamine Shoshin Sensei of Matsubayashi Shorin-Ryu, worked together to develop a set of promotional kata for the Okinawa board of education, which resulted in Miyagi‘s creation of the Gekisai kata series. Today, Matsubayashi Shorin Ryu calls these kata Fukyugata 1 & 2. Fukyugata 1 in no way resembles Gekisai Dai Ichi, and Fukyugata 2 is almost exactly like Gekisai Dai Ichi. The only difference being their stances are a little shorter, and near the end of the kata just prior to the awase zuki or yama zuki (double punch), they have both fists facing palm up in preparation for the zuki techniques (in Te Uke or side cover position), and Gojuryu has one fist facing downward and one fist facing upward, chambered on each side of the body. The kata is however, completely recognizable as Gekisai. Therefore, Tensho and the Gekisai kata were not practiced during Higaonna Kanryo Sensei’s lifetime . Kenwa Mabuni Sensei, the founder of Shito Ryu Karate, formulated a kata called Shinsei, which was his interpretation of Gekisai Dai Ni. Also in modern Shito Ryu, the kata Fukyu Ichi and Fukyu Ni (Gekisai Ichi) are referred to as Chi No Kata and Ten No Kata. In addition, Mabuni sensei also formulated the kata; Kenshu, Kensho, Shinpa, and Happo Sho which he classified as Higashionna-ke or Higashionna Type kata.

In Goju Ryu, the major schools do not practice Sochin, Unsu, Niseishi, or Nipaipo. However they do include Sanchin, Saifa, Seiyunchin, Shisochin, Sanseru, Sepai, Seisan, Kururunfa, and Suparinpei, in addition to the kata created by Miyagi Sensei. Shitoryu, is a composite system that preserves both Naha and Shuri-te, however, it standardizes the basics, thus loosing the original form of the Naha-te kata.


Jin’an Shinzato Sensei, Miyagi Chojun Sensei chosen successor, formulated the Chuho No Kata, this kata is unique in that it made use of exercises for the hips, had numerous punching techniques and was also noted for it’s un-orthodox throwing combinations. To my knowledge this kata is no longer taught by any of the major Gojuryu kai-ha.

Meitoku Yagi Sensei, the founder of Meibukan Goju Ryu, and a direct student of Miyagi Sensei. He formulated the kata Tenshi, Seiryu, Byakko, Shujaku, and Genbu. He also teaches a second Tensho called Tensho Ni or Sanpoaruite Tensho.

Seikichi Toguchi Sensei, was a direct student of both Miyagi Sensei and Higa Sensei, he founded Shorei Kan Goju Ryu. He formulated the kata Hookiyu 1 & 2, Gekisai Dai San, Gekiha 1 & 2, Kakuha 1 & 2, and Hakutsuru No Mai.

Gogen Yamaguchi Sensei, was a direct student of Miyagi Chojun Sensei, Jusuei Yogi Sensei and Meitoku Yagi Sensei, and founder of the Japanese Goju Kai. Yamaguchi Sensei added ten Taikyoku kata , Genkaku and Chikaku. The Yamaguchi system also practices the unique Sanchin-Tensho kata. Goshi Yamaguchi sensei has also added two kata to what his father developed called Tenryu and Kohryu.

Osamu Hirano Sensei, student of Kenzo Ujita and Gogen Yamaguchi, founder of the Kuyukai. Formulated the Haiku Ichi and Rensoku Juza kata for his association.

Seigo Tada Sensei, student of Gogen Yamaguchi, founder of the Seigokan. Formulated the Kihon Tsuki no and the Uke no kata for his association.

Kisaku Tomoharu Sensei, student of Gogen Yamaguchi, founder of Yuishinkai formulated the Kitei kata, this kata is unique in that it utilizes the mawash-geri or round house kick.

Sosui Ichikawa Sensei, student of Kanki Izumigawa, and founder of the Sosuikan Seito Gojuryu. Formulated the Gekisai Ha and Sosuiken kata. In addition his dojo also teaches Sanchin (sanpo and zenpo), Unsu, Niseishi, and Tsuru-te. Several of his senior students have added Rokkishu, and Hakutsuru to the syllabus. His senior American student, R. Choji Taiani Sensei, has added the kata Sanchin Koho, a kata he learned in China to the American branch of the association.

Katsuya Izumikawa, son of Kanki Izumikawa, and current head of the Senbukan Seito Gojuryu. fourmulated the Gekisai Dai San and Gekisai Dai Yon kata for his group.
Tetsuhiro Hokama sensei, student of Seiko Higa sensei and Seiko Fuguchi sensei, founder of the Kenshikai. Formulated the kata Fukyu and Kiyozai 1 & 2 for his group, it is also interesting to note that some of his branch dojo teach Gekisai 1-4, I am unsure if he developed the 3rd and 4th Gekisai for his group, or if he used Toguchi Sensei Gekisai San and another source for Gekisai Yon.

Terou Chinen Sensei, founder of Jundokan International and a student of Eiichi Miyazato Sensei, developed the Dachi kata, Formation 11, Formation 12 and Fukyu 3 for his group. It may also be of interest to know that he also teaches Fukyu 1 and 2 in his association. Fukyu 1 is the standard version developed by Nagamine and Miyagi, while it has been said that Fukyu 2 was developed by eiichi Miyazato Sensei, I however, have been unable to verify this for sure, though Fukyu 1 and 2 were used by both Chinen Sensei and Morio Higaonna when they established the IOGKF, some IOGKF dojo still teach these kata, but the majority have stopped using them.

Zenei Oshiro Sensei, founder of Shodokan Europe, also uses Fukyu 1 and 2, along with 3 kata of his own creation called Shiho Uke 1, 2, and 3.

Toshio Tamano Sensei, founder of Shoreikan International, a student of Seikichi Toguchi Sensei, developed the kata dai ichi and kata dai ni for his group.

John Roseberry Sensei, founder of Shorei-Shobukan, a student of Sekichi Toguchi sensei, developed the Gakusei kata. His group also uses the Golden crane form, which he learned from a Chinese teacher.

Peter Urban Sensei, founder of USA Goju, student of Gogen Yamaguchi, developed the Taikiyoku Empi Go, Unfa, Empi Ha, Urban Han and Urban Kururunfan for his organization.

Lou Angel Sensei, founder of Tenshi Gojukai, a student of Peter Urban and Gogen Yamaguchi, developed the Gesai, Gesaku Sho and Gesaku Dai kata for his group.

Glenn Keeney Sensei, Founder of the Komakai and student of Larry Pickle, a student of Eiichi Miyazato, developed the Keneko kata for his group.

Shinken Akamine Sensei, from the Izumigawa lineage, who was the first introduced Gojuryu karate to Brazil. Akamine sensei formed several groups in his time, the last being the Kenshinkan, he developed the katas Uke Godan, Empi Godan, Tekatana Godan, Teisho Godan, Tsuki Godan and Kenshinryu for his group.

The major Naha system is Goju Ryu, but related systems from Naha included Ryuei Ryu, Toon Ryu, or those traditions passed down by Arakai Seisho. Ryuei Ryu uses the kata Niseshi, Sanseru, Seiunchin, Seisan, Paiku, Heiku, Pachu, Anan, Ananni, Ohan, and Paiho. Toon Ryu uses the kata Shiho Uke, Kiso 1 and 2, Sanchin, Seisan, Sanseru, Pechurin (suparenpei), Neipai, Rokishu, and Jion. Arakaki Seisho passed on the kata of Sanchin, Seisan, Sanseru, Suparenpei, Unsu, Niseishi and Sochin.

Another system that is related to Naha is the Kojo Ryu of the Kojo family. While this system shares a similar lineage, it does not use the same variety of kata. It is most commonly thought that Kojo Ryu only used the six kata of Tenkan, Kukan, Chikan, Hakukoken, Hakutsuru and Hakuryu, however, in addition to these six it also uses Hafa, Nepai, Nunfa, Paichu, Paishi, Pacin, Tanchin, Nijikken, Sodenkan, Gogiho, Shitenken, Shimonken, Kokakuken and Gohoken. This system in my opinion would be better classified as Kundinadi or Kume Village Te.

Some people also include Uechi Ryu as a Naha style, but in my opinion I would call it at best a sister style, while all of the systems mentioned trace their lineage back to China, Goju Ryu, Ryuei Ryu, Toon Ryu, and the Arakaki-ha all share a linked history, while Uechi Ryu traces its lineage from a different source.

There is no mistaking that all of the systems are related in the fact that all use the Sanchin, Seisan, Sanseru and Suparenpei kata’s, but history tells us that Uechi Ryu is a direct line from the Pangainoon system and Nahate was from the Kingainoon system. Uechi Ryu also uses the kata Kashiwa, Kanshu, Seichin, Seiryu and Kanchi, all devised in modern times.

Taking all this into consideration, one sees well over 100 kata in the Naha tradition alone. With the majority having been developed after 1953.

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