A Complete List of Shito Ryu Kata with Videos (P. 1)

Shito Ryu Kata List - Part 1

Shito Ryu has the most kata amongst all karate styles because Kenwa Mabuni, its founder, was greatly influenced by two legendary masters: Ankō Itosu and Kanryō Higaonna.

Mabuni incorporated kata that he learned from these two masters and this led to Shito Ryu style kata being largely divided into two major groups:

  • Itosu kata employ powerful, explosive, and linear techniques and long stances
  • Higaonna kata involve shorter fighting methods with emphasis on circular movements and the use of both soft and hard techniques.

However, Mabuni also sought knowledge from other karate masters resulting in a very long list of kata in the karate style that he created.

There are over 60 kata in the Shito Ryu style.

After Mabuni’s death, there was a dispute between his two sons about the lineage of the style which resulted in two different branches of Shito Ryu. In addition, many Shito Ryu schools were later established by his students.

As a result, different Shito Ryu schools use different kata in different orders but all still recognize the influence of both Itosu and Higaonna lineages.

Given the large number of Shito Ryu kata, I will cover them in four parts.

This is the first post of the series which will cover the basic kata including Kihon Kata, Ten No and Chi No Kata and Heian Kata.

  1. Kihon Kata Ichi
  2. Kihon Kata Ni
  3. Kihon Kata San
  4. Kihon Kata Yon
  5. Kihon Kata Go
  6. Ten No Kata
  7. Chi No Kata
  8. Heian Shodan
  9. Heian Nidan
  10. Heian Sandan
  11. Heian Yondan
  12. Heian Godan

Kihon katas

Kihon means “basic” in Japanese and kihon katas are created to introduce beginner karatekas to basic blocks, punches, kicks and stances.

Kihon Kata Ichi

Kihon Kata Ichi introduces only two basic techniques: Gedan barai (downward block) and Chudan oi-tzuki (middle lunge punch).

All techniques are performed in Zenkutsu dachi (forward stance).

Although this is the most basic kata of all, performing the techniques in correct stances throughout with speed, power and martial spirit still requires years of practice.

A demonstration of Kihon Kata Ichi by a group of blackbelts from Inoueha Shito-Ryu under the instruction of Julio Martinez sensei.
A demonstration of Kihon Kata Ichi by Senpai Mao Thygesen.

Kihon Kata Ni

Kihon Kata Ni is the second basic kata.

Kihon Kata Ni is almost the same as Kihon Kata Ichi except that the Gedan barai (downward block) is replaced with Age uke (rising block).

A demonstration of Kihon Kata Ni by Matthew Day sensei.
Another demonstration of Kihon Kata Ni.

Kihon Kata San

Kihon Kata San is the third basic kata.

Kihon Kata San has two basic techniques: Uchi Ude Uke (inside-out block) and Chudan Oi-tsuki (middle level punch).

A demonstration of Kihon Kata San by Senpai Mao Thygesen.
Another demonstration of Kihon Kata San.

Kihon Kata Yon

Kihon Kata Yon is the fourth basic kata (note that some dojos refer to this kata as the third basic kata instead).

Kihon Kata Yon includes basic techniques that have been introduced in previous basic kihon kata including Gedan Barai (downward block); Uchi Ude Uke (inside out block) and Chudan Oi-tsuki (middle level punch).

Below are two slightly different demonstrations of this kata.

In the first one, the block combination is Gedan barai followed by Uchi ude uke. In the second one, the block combination is Uchi ude uke followed by Gedan barai.

A demonstration of Kihon Kata Yon by Junko Arai sensei.
A demonstration of Kihon Kata Yon by Sensei Kong Wing Loh.

Kihon Kata Go

Kihon Kata Go is the fifth basic kata.

In this kata, a kick (mae geri) and an open hand technique are introduced for the first time.

Kihon Kata Go includes three basic techniques Shuto Uke (open hand block); Mae geri (front kick) and Chudan Oi-tsuki (middle level punch).

A demonstration of Kihon Kata Go by Junko Arai Sensei.
Another demonstration of Kihon Kata Go.

Ten No Kata

Ten means “sky”, “heaven” or “universe” and Ten No Kata is often translated as the “Kata of Heaven” or “Kata of the Universe”.

Ten No Kata is another basic kata of the Shito Ryu style.

It includes four basic techniques: Gedan barai (downward block), Chudan oi-tsuki (middle punch), Age uke (rising block) and Jodan oi-tsuki (face level punch).

All techniques are performed in Zenkutsu dachi stance.

The Shito Ryu version of Ten No Kata is very different from its Wado Ryu or Shotokan counterpart.

A demonstration of Ten No Kata by a group of blackbelts from Inoueha Shito-Ryu under the instruction of Julio Martinez sensei.
A demonstration of Ten No Kata by Matthew Day sensei.

Chi No Kata

Chi means “earth” or “ground” and Chi No Kata is often translated as the “Kata of the Earth”.

Chi No Kata is the most advanced kata of all the basic kata of the Shito Ryu style.

Chi No Kata appears to be a variation of the Gekisai Dai Ichi kata created by Chojun Miyagi Sensei, the founder of the Goju Ryu style.

It includes many basic techniques: Gedan barai (downward block), Age uke (rising block), Uchi ude uke (inside out block), Mae geri (front kick), Empi (elbow strike), Shuto uchi (knife hand strike) and Chudan oi-tsuki (middle punch).

Heiko dachi and Shiko dachi stances are also introduced in this kata.

The regular shifts in stances throughout the kata mean changes in height and shifts in body weight which make it challenging for beginners to perform basic techniques with power.

Like other basic kata listed above, the pattern and techniques are not difficult to memorize but it takes years of practice to perform the kata well with power, speed and martial spirit.

A demonstration of Chi No Kata by a group of blackbelts from Inoueha Shito-Ryu under the instruction of Julio Martinez sensei.
A demonstration of Chi No Kata by Junko Arai sensei.

Heian series

Heian also called Pinan means “peaceful mind”.

The Heian series consists of five katas and is a foundation for many other katas. Its mastery helps karate students to defend themselves effectively in many situations.

The Heian katas were created by Master Ankō Itosu and are believed to have originated from Okinawa. They were named Pinan but Gichin Funakoshi changed the name to Heian when he founded the Shotokan style.

Some sources suggest that Ankō Itosu created the Heian series from an advanced kata called Kusanku or Kanku Dai to gradually introduce karate forms to beginner students.

Because Ankō Itosu wanted to introduce karate into the Okinawan school system and advanced kata would be too hard for them, so he created these simpler forms to suit young school students.

Heian Shodan

This is the first kata in the Heian series. It is usually required for 8th kyu grading.

However, note that in some Shito Ryu schools, this kata is actually referred to as Heian Nidan (or Pinan Nidan) and the Heian Nidan below is referred to as Heian Shodan.

Below are a few demonstrations of this kata.

A demonstration by Rika Usami, a multiple-time world kata champion.
A demonstration by Inoueha Shito-Ryu students under the instruction of Shihan Julio Martinez.
A demonstration by Sensei Junko Arai.

Heian Nidan

Heian Nidan is usually a requirement for 7th kyu grading.

As mentioned above, some schools refer to this kata as Heian Shodan (or Pinan Shodan) instead.

Heian Nidan introduces concurrent blocking and striking techniques and emphasizes open hand techniques.

Below are a few demonstrations of this kata.

A demonstration by Rika Usami, a multiple-time world kata champion.

A demonstration by Inoueha Shito-Ryu students under the instruction of Shihan Julio Martinez.
A demonstration by Sensei Matthew Day.

Heian Sandan

Heian Sandan is the shortest kata in the 5 Heian kata.

At some Shito Ryu schools, Heian Sandan is another kata required for 7th kyu grading.

Heian Sandan also emphasizes simultaneous blocking and striking techniques and empi techniques.

Heian Shodan and Heian Sandan are considered easier kata to learn than Heian Nidan.

Below are a few demonstrations of this kata.

A demonstration of Heian Sandan by Rika Usami, a multiple-time world kata champion from Japan.
A demonstration of Heian Sandan by Gakuji Tozaki, a member of the US men’s team kata
A demonstration of Heian Sandan by Sensei Matthew Day.

Heian Yondan

Heian Yondan is usually a grading requirement for 6th kyu under the Shito Ryu curriculum.

The kata introduces some advanced techniques such as juji uke (x-block), mae empi (elbow strike), and hiza geri (knee strike).

The main stance of the kata is kokutsu dachi but the new kosa dachi is also introduced.

Below are a few demonstrations of this kata.

A demonstration of Heian Yondan by Rika Usami, a multiple-time world kata champion.
A demonstration of Heian Yondan by Gakuji Tozaki, a member of the US men’s team kata.
A demonstration of Heian Yondan by Sensei Matthew Day.

Heian Godan

Heian Godan is the last kata in the series and is usually required for the 5th kyu grading under the Shito Ryu curriculum.

While the Shotokan version of Heian Godan has soft and slow moves and includes a jump, the Shito Ryu version is all about explosive, fast and strong techniques and doesn’t have a jumping technique.

Some suggest that just mastering the techniques in the five Heian kata would be sufficient for one to defend oneself and I don’t doubt that.

There is enough variety of techniques with different levels of difficulty and once you’ve mastered them, you can apply them to innumerous circumstances in actual combat.

Below are a few demonstrations of this kata.

A demonstration of Heian Godan by Rika Usami, a multiple-time world kata champion.
A demonstration of Heian Godan by Gakuji Tozaki, a member of the US men’s team kata.
A demonstration Heina Godan by Sensei Junko Arai.

Please check out other posts in the Shito Ryu kata series below:

A Complete List of Shito Ryu Kata with Videos (P. 2)

A Complete List of Shito Ryu Kata with Videos (P. 3)

A Complete List of Shito Ryu Kata with Videos (P. 4)

Other posts you may be interested in:

How to Systematically Improve Your Karate Sparring

What Is the Philosophy of Karate? – Karate Philosophy

The Intended Meaning of Karate Ni Sente Nashi

References

Shotokan Shitoryu Karate Association New Zealand – SSKANZ

Wikipedia – Shito Ryu

International Shito Ryu Federation

Genbu Kai Florida – Shito Ryu katas

Shito Ryu Kata – Sensei Tazadeh

Shitoryu.org

Sophia

I haven't trained in karate for long but it has given me so much and definitely has made me a better person. After a long break, I've recently returned to karate and now train in Goju Ryu style with my children, starting all over again from a white belt.

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