Shito-Ryu


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Description of Shito-Ryu

Nicholas Torino

In it's appearance Shitoryu basically can be seen as a combination of Shotokan-like and Goju-like karate. Shotokan, which came from Shorinryu (from Shuri-te), utilizes long linear stances and physical power and Gojuryu, which came from Shorei-ryu (from Naha-te and Tomari-te) utilizes up and down stances and internal breathing power (hard and soft techniques). Mabuni's Shitoryu is a blend of principles from Shorinryu and Shoreiryu.

Shito-ryu is fast, but still powerful and artistic. It incorporates the powerful Shuri-te kata like Naifanchin and Bassai, the hard and soft Naha-te kata like Sanchin and Kururunfa, and the artistic Chinese white crane kata like Nipaipo and Paipuren. Shitoryu emphasizes considerable training on Kihon (basics) at the beginning, but for a senior Shito-ryu student, quality and quantity run together. Shitoryu contains all the eighteen Shorinryu kata, all the sixteen Shorei-ryu kata, the Chinese white crane kata, plus the kata devised by Master Mabuni himself from his broad knowledge and experiences, a total of more than sixty kata (depending on the organization).

Mabuni was especially interested in the real aspects or bunkai of the kata and his study of the martial arts has been handed down in the form of the practical applications of each technique. Mabuni had a keen interest in the Chinese Qinna or grappling and seizing methods. The blocks, grabs and traps all are associated together. Therefore, a block is a strike and or a seizing technique to control and subdue and adversary. Blocks are performed quickly and close to the body to develop leverage in the arms and the body's center mass.

Although Mabuni practiced goju kata with his friend Chojun Miyagi the Shitoryu method of performing breathing and body tension is not as strong, tight and constrictive. Therefore the sanchin dachi is not performed with a dangerous level of body tension that may cause harm to a persons blood pressure. All techniques are performed with the use of the hips and legs in mind to develop power and thrust. The shiko dachi (stance) is employed in most Shitoryu kata and is quicker and more pliable than the Shotokan version of kiba dachi. Moreover, the special characteristic of Shitoryu that distinguishes it from other schools is that Shitoryu lives together with Kobudo (weapon arts) and sometimes Iaido (sword-drawing-arts). The Kihon, Kumite, Karate, Kata, Kobudo Kata, Iaido Kata and the principles (bunkai) behind them make Shitoryu a broad based style.

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