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, the balance of hard and soft techniques, and the number and names of kata forms.


The four major karate styles developed in Japan, especially in Okinawa are Shorin-ryu, Wado-ryu, Shito-ryu, and Goju-ryu; many other styles of Karate are derived from these four.[1] The first three of these 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]

The formal application within the four major karate styles are as follows:

  • 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.
  • Goju-ryu places emphasis on Sanchin kata and its rooted Sanchin stance, and it features grappling and close-range techniques.

Some later styles of karate have been derived from blending techniques from the four main branches, while others have added techniques from other martial arts. For example Kyokushin, which is an extremely hard style derived from Shotokan and Gōjū-ryū, involves much more breaking and full contact, knockdown sparring as a main part of training.[3]

Comparison of styles[edit]

Styles Origin Derived From Hard and soft techniques Stances Representative Kata Number of kata References
Chitō-ryū Okinawa Shōrei-ryū or Naha-te, Shōrin-ryū both elements exist but more soft than hard natural 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
Genseiryū Okinawa Shuri-te and possibly Tomari-te. both, but mostly soft deep/natural Ten-i no Kata, Chi-i no Kata, Jin-i no Kata, Sansai, (Koryu) Naifanchi, (Koryu) Bassai, (Koryu) Kusanku or Koshokun (dai) 64
Gōjū-ryū Okinawa Fujian White Crane and Naha-te. both deep/natural Sanchin, Tensho, Gekisai Dai/Sho, Seipai, Saifa, Suparinpei 12
Gosoku-ryu Japan Gōjū-ryū, Shotokan both deep (beginner), natural (advanced) Gosoku, Rikyu, Denko Getsu, Tamashi 46 including weapons kata
Isshin-ryū Okinawa Gōjū-ryū, Shōrin-ryū, Kobudō both, fast & hard natural Seisan, Seiunchin, Naihanchi, Wansu, Chinto, Sanchin, Kusanku, Sunsu 15 including weapons kata
Kyokushin Japan Shotokan, Gōjū-ryū extremely hard natural Sokogi, Pinan + ura, 33 [3]
Motobu-ryū Japan and Okinawa Shuri-te and Tomari-te both natural Naihanchi (shodan and nidan), Shirokuma, Seisan, Passai, Ufukun, Motode (ichi and ni), Kasshindī (san, yon, go) 11
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 [2]
Shōrin-ryū Okinawa Shuri-te, Tomari-te, Chinese martial arts both, primarily fast & soft natural Fukyu, Pinan, Naihanchi, passai, kanku, seisan 21
Shotokan Japan and Okinawa Shōrin-ryū and Shōrei-ryū 70% hard, 30% soft/fast deep (formal) and natural Taikyoku Shodan, 5 Heian, 3 Tekki, Bassai Dai and Sho, Jion, Empi, Kanku Dai and Sho, Hangetsu, Jitte, Gankaku, Sochin, Nijushiho, Chinte, Ji'in, Meikyo, Wankan, Unsu, Gojushiho Dai and Sho 27 [2]
Shūkōkai Japan Gōjū-ryū & Shitō-ryū 60% hard, 40% soft natural Pinan, Bassai Dai, Seienchin, Saifa, Rōhai 44
Uechi-Ryū Fuzhou, Fujian Province & Okinawa Huzun Quan kung fu[4] Naha-te half-hard, half-soft mainly natural Sanchin, Seisan, Sanseirui 8
Wadō-ryū Japan and Okinawa Shindō Yōshin-ryū Jujutsu, Tomari-te, Shotokan and Motobu-ryū both, primarily soft mainly natural Primary: Pinan, Kushanku, Naihanchi, Seishan, and Chintō. Secondary: Jion, Wanshu, Jitte, Rohai, Bassai, and Niseishi[5] 15
Shorin-ryu Shorinkan Okinawa Kobayashi Shōrin-ryū 90% Hard

10% Soft

Beginner deep and higher belts also deep Pinan Nidan ,Pinan Shodan, Naihanchi Shodan,Saifa/Jion, Annan, Basadai, Godusiosu 8

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Corcoran, John; Farkas, Emil (1983). Martial Arts. Traditions, History, People. Gallery Books. p. 49.
  2. ^ a b c Clayton, Bruce D. (2004). Shotokan's Secret, The Hidden Truth Behind Karate's Fighting Origins. Black Belt Communications LLC. pp. 97 & 153.
  3. ^ a b "Special Collector's Edition: History, Masters, Traditions, Philosophy". Kara-te. Blitz Publications. pp. 27, 39, 45 & 67.
  4. ^ "Huzun Quan | 虎尊拳". Retrieved 2021-02-27.
  5. ^ "Wado Ryu Kata".


  • Karate-do Kyohan, written by Gichin Funakoshi, translated by Tsutomu Oshima (1935).

External links[edit]