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, and number of kata.

The four earliest karate styles developed in Japan are Shotokan, Wado-ryu, Shito-ryu, and Goju-ryu.[1] The first three 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.[2]

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, a hard style, involves breaking more often than the other styles and full contact, knockdown sparring as a main part of its training.[3] Goju-ryu places emphasis on Sanchin kata and its rooted Sanchin stance, and it features grappling and close-range techniques.[4]


Styles Origin Derived From Balance of hard and soft techniques Stances Representative Kata No. of kata
Chitō-ryū Okinawa Shōrei-ryū or Naha-te, Shōrin-ryū both elements exist but more soft than hard natural stride (Seisan dachi) Shi Ho Hai, Seisan, Ro Hai Sho, Niseishi, Bassai, Chinto, Sochin, Tenshin, Ro Hai Dai, Sanshiryu, Ryushan, Kusanku, Sanchin 15 kata not including kihon and Bo kihon/kata
Gōjū-ryū Okinawa Fujian White Crane and Naha-te. both deep/natural Sanchin, Tensho, Gekisai Dai/Sho, Seipai, Saifa, Suparinpei 12
Gosoku-ryū Japan Gōjū-ryū, Shotokan 50 percent hard, 50 percent soft techniques deep (beginner), natural (advanced) Gosoku, Rikyu, Denko Getsu, Tamashi 46 including weapons kata
Isshin-ryū Okinawa Gōjū-ryū, Shōrin-ryū, Kobudō both, primarily hard natural Seisan, Naihanchi, Wansu, Passai, Chinto, Kusanku, Seiunchin, Sanchin, Sunsu 15 including weapons kata
Kyokushin Japan Shotokan, Gōjū-ryū Extremely hard natural Taikyoku, Pinan, Kanku, Sanchin, Tensho, Garyu 23 (+ ura)
Shūkōkai Japan Gōjū-ryū & Shitō-ryū 60% hard and 40% soft techniques natural Pinan, Bassai Dai, Seienchin, Saifa, Rōhai 44 +
Shindō jinen-ryū Japan and Okinawa primarily Shuri-te like Shitō-ryū, but also Naha-te and Tomari-te both deep/natural Shimpa, Taisabaki 1-3, Sunakake no Kon More than 60 counting all kobudo kata
Shitō-ryū Japan and Okinawa Shuri-te and Naha-te both deep/natural Pinan, Bassai Dai, Seienchin, Saifa, Rōhai, Nipaipo 94
Shōrin-ryū Okinawa Shuri-te, Tomari-te, Chinese martial arts both, primarily fast and hard natural Fukyu, Pinan, Naihanchi, passai, kanku, seisan 21
Shotokan Japan Shōrin-ryū and Shōrei-ryū 70% hard techniques and 30% soft/ fast techniques deep (beginner), longer (advanced) 3 Taikyoku, 5 Heian, 3 Tekki, Jion, Kanku Dai, Bassai Dai, Empi, Sochin, etc. 26 + additional
Shuri-ryū Okinawa Shuri-te, Hsing-yi both deep/natural Wunsu, O-Naihanchi, Sanchin 15
Uechi-ryū Okinawa Pangai-noon Kung Fu, Naha-te half hard, half soft mainly natural Sanchin, Seisan, Sanseirui 8
Wadō-ryū Japan and Okinawa Shindō Yōshin-ryū Jujutsu, Tomari-te and Shotokan both, primarily soft mainly natural Pinan, Kushanku, Seishan, Chintō, Naihanchi, Jion, Wanshu, Jitte and Niseishi[5] 15 (one hidden)
Yōshūkai Japan and Okinawa Chitō-ryū 60 percent hard, 40 percent soft techniques deep (beginner), natural (advanced) Seisan, Sochin, Tenshin, Bassai (core katas) 18

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Corcoran, John and Farkas, Emil. Martial Arts. Traditions, History, People. Gallery Books, 1983, p. 49.
  2. ^ Clayton, Bruce D. Shotokan's Secret, The Hidden Truth Behind Karate's Fighting Origins. Black Belt Communications LLC, 2004, p. 97 & 153.
  3. ^ Kara-te Magazine. Special Collector's Edition - Kara-te, History, Masters, Traditions, Philosophy. Blitz Publications, p. 27, 45, 39 & 67.
  4. ^ Clayton, Bruce D. Shotokan's Secret, The Hidden Truth Behind Karate's Fighting Origins. Black Belt Communications LLC, 2004, p. 96 & 97.
  5. ^ "Wado Ryu Kata - USA Wado Ryu".


  • Karate-do Kyohan, written by Gichin Funakoshi translated by Tsutomu Oshima

External links[edit]