Comparison of karate styles
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The four earliest karate styles developed in Japan are Shotokan, Wado-ryu, Shito-ryu, and Goju-ryu. 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.
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. Goju-ryu places emphasis on Sanchin kata and its rooted Sanchin stance, and it features grappling and close-range techniques.
|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, Seipai, Saifa||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||Sunsu||15 including weapons kata|
|Kyokushin||Japan||Shotokan, Gōjū-ryū||Hardest techniques||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 soft||natural||Fukyu, Pinan, Naihanchi, passai, kanku, seisan||21|
|Shotokan||Japan and Okinawa||Shōrin-ryū, and Shōrei-ryū||70% hard techniques and 30% soft/ fast techniques||deep (beginner), natural (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||half hard, half soft||mainly natural||Sanchin, Seisan, Sanseirui||8|
|Wado-ryū||Japan and Okinawa||Yoshin-ryu Jujitsu Tomari-te and Shotokan||both, primarily soft||mainly natural||Pinan, Kushanku, Seishan, Chintō, Naihanchi, Jion, Wanshu, Jitte and Niseishi||15 (one hidden)|
|Yōshūkai||Japan and Okinawa||Chitō-ryū||60 percent hard, 40 percent soft techniques||deep (beginner), natural (advanced)||Seisan, Bassai, Yoshu, San Shi Ryu||18|
- Corcoran, John and Farkas, Emil. Martial Arts. Traditions, History, People. Gallery Books, 1983, p. 49.
- Clayton, Bruce D. Shotokan's Secret, The Hidden Truth Behind Karate's Fighting Origins. Black Belt Communications LLC, 2004, p. 97 & 153.
- Kara-te Magazine. Special Collector's Edition - Kara-te, History, Masters, Traditions, Philosophy. Blitz Publications, p. 27, 45, 39 & 67.
- Clayton, Bruce D. Shotokan's Secret, The Hidden Truth Behind Karate's Fighting Origins. Black Belt Communications LLC, 2004, p. 96 & 97.
- Karate-do Kyohan, written by Gichin Funakoshi translated by Tsutomu Oshima