Analysing the Background of Shito-ryu

Shito-ryu is among the many kinds of karate martial art. It was launched by Kenwa Mabuni in 1931. The history if its evolution provided here under will help you to know it more closely.

Kenwa Mabuni, the originator of Shito-Ryu Karate was born in 1889 in Shuri, Okinawa. He was a successor of the well-known fighter Uni Ufugusuku Kenyu in 17th generation. He perhaps started his instructions in the skill of Shuri-te in his place of birth at an age of 13 years, due to his delicate structure, under the guidance of the famous artist Ankō Itosu. This great master thoroughly trained him for several years and he learned many kata from him. The Pinan kata was first of all developed by Itosu which was supposed to be derived from the form of “Kusanku”.

Chōjun Miyagi, one of Kenwa Mabuni’s close friends, has introduced him to Kanryō Higaonna, another great master of that period. Though both the masters taught him Okinawan “Te” in a hard-soft style but their focus and methods were quite different. The syllabus of Itosu included powerful and straightforward techniques found in Bassai and Naihanchi Kata whereas the syllabus of Hingaonna focused on shorter fighting methods and circular motions found in Kuruunfa and Seipai Kata. Mabuni included both soft and hard techniques while developing Shito-ryu.

Though later on Mabuni took vital and quite effective instructions from various other good teachers but he truly and closely followed the instructions of his first two masters. Actually he was famous for his knowledge about Kata and their application in Bunkai and for this reason he was observed as the best authority on the history of Okinawan kata in 1920s. He was considered by his contemporaries in China, mainland Japan and Okinawa as the most required teacher of Okinawan kata. He also taught enforcement of local officers to how to become good police officers and many reputed grammar schools in Naha and Shuri at the request of Itosu, his teacher.

In 1929 Mabuni moved to the mainland of Osaka and became the instructor of his half hard style which was originally called Hanko-ryu. In order to honour his main references the names of this style was later on changed into Shito-ryu. This name was derived from the names of Higaonna and Itosu, his two main teachers. He started a number of dojo for Shito-ryu in Osaka area including the Karatedō-kai dojo in Japan and at Kansai University with the help of Ryusho Sakagami. Till date, Osaka is considered as the largest contingent in Japan for the practitioners of Shito-ryu.

Later on Mabuni continued to organize instruction methods and circulated many books on Shito-ryu. He also created kata in many forms like Aoyogi which were especially designed for the self defense of women. In the past century, Mabuni was perhaps the most popular master in the history of Karate-do. He forwarded his thinking all through the world to spread his art form Shito-ryu. The influence of Higaonna and Itosu can be seen in the syllabus of Shito-ryu until today.

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