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Karate Styles

Chito-ryu  Goju-ryu  Isshin-ryu  Kenpo  Koei-Kan  Shito-ryu  Shorei-ryu  Shorin-ryu  Shotokan  Wado-ryu

 Chito-ryu:  Chito-ryu karate is a Japanese style founded by Dr. Tsuyoshi Chitose.  It emphasizes conditioning of the mind and body before the actual practice of self defense.  A combination of Goju-ryu and Shorin-ryu karate.  Chito-ryu is structured according to medical principles.  Its moral code stresses fairness, tolerance, patience, diligence, courtesy, sincerity, and constant striving to better oneself spiritually, mentally, and physically.  

 Goju-ryu:  Goju-ryu karate is a Japanese style of karate based on maintaining balance of resistive and flexible actions.  In countering a full force blow, in Goju-ryu they never meets the onslaught with an equally hard block, instead they wait until the attack is nearly at full extension and parries with a softer block, conserving their strength and forcing the opponent to commit himself.  Goju-ryu seeks to develop timing and reaction speed.  Blows are delivered swiftly and in rapid succession.  There is a great deal of moving side to side, instead of straight forward as most other hard styles of karate.  The word Goju has two contrasting meanings, "Go" meaning hard, and "Ju" meaning soft.  This is a traditional concept of universal balance as in the Chinese "Yin-Yang" and the Japanese "In-Yo".

 Isshin-ryu:  Isshin-ryu karate is an Okinawan style combining the elements of Shorin-ryu and Goju-ryu, founded by Tatsuo Shimabuku, in 1954.  Specifically Isshin-ryu karate emphasizes:
1.  Elimination of fancy techniques.
2.  Low-line kicks, all below the waist.
3.  Short natural stances without wasted motion and major body shifting.
4.  Even application of hand and foot techniques, about 50% each in the katas.
5.  Close range techniques.
6.  Snap punches and snap kicks, limbs extended 90% and immediately retracted.
7.  Both hard and soft blocking.
8.  Blocks with the muscular position of the forearm rather than the bone.
9.  Fist formed with thumb on top of the clenched fist rather than over the two fingers.
10.  The vertical punch, which increases speed and focus.
11.  Multiple-purpose technique, allowing a block to become a blow and vice versa.

 Kenpo:  Kenpo employs linear as well as circular techniques, using intermittent power when and where needed, interspersed with major and minor moves that flow with encounters as they occur.  

 Koei-Kan:  A Japanese style of karate founded by Eizo Onishi in 1952.  In Koei-Kan the individual is stressed, and each student is taught to strive for the highest degree of self-attainment.  In Japanese, this philosophy is a blend of bun (obedience), shi (Divergence), and Shu (Separation).  Naturally, there is some uniformity during each individual stage of learning, however, after the fundamentals have been mastered, new methods are encouraged as they pertain to a students particular needs.  Koei-Kan embraces the ethics of bushido: humility, truth, self-discipline, self-reliance, peace, respect, unselfishness, honor, and courage to sum it up :)   

 Shito-ryu:  Shito-ryu karate is an Okinawan style founded by Kenwa Mabuni.  Predominately a hard style, it embraces kata from the hard Shorin-ryu and the softer Goju-ryu styles.  Training is divided equally between kata, basics, and sparring.

 Shorei-ryu:  A major Okinawan style that has a meticulous repertoire of techniques.  Its basics include striking, clawing, ripping, kicking, jumping, blocking, reaping, sweeping, throwing, holding, grappling, falling, choking, and joint locks.  The style is based on five major animal strengths such as, the dragon (body strength), the tiger (bone strength), the leopard (inner and outer strength), the snake (breath strength), and the crane (spiritual strength).  It also stresses the mastery of six martial arts weapons including the bo, sai, nunchaku, tonfa, kama, and shuko.  

 Shorin-ryu:  An Okinawan style that uses more upright stances than most Japanese styles of karate.  Most of the kicking techniques in Shorin-ryu are low line, and it is a style that relies more on hand techniques.  

 Shotokan:  A Japanese style of karate founded by Gichin Funakoshi.  He brought together two systems of open hand fighting that flourished in his native Okinawa to form a new system called karate-do (way of the empty hand)  his followers refer to it as Shotokan which means (hall of shoto)  Shoto being the pen name Funakoshi adopted in calligraphic works.  In fusing these styles together Funakoshi continually edited, revised, and updated the various kicks, punches, blocks, and body dynamics until the day he died in 1957.  Shotokan is physically distinguished from other karate styles in that nearly every technique is a linear style, its philosophy being that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.  

 Wado-ryu:  Wado-ryu is a Japanese karate style founded in 1939 by Hironori Ohtsuka.  Wado-ryu, meaning "way of harmony" is one of the four major Japanese karate styles.  The aim of Wado-ryu karate is not perfection of physical technique but development of a mind that is tranquil yet alive, able to react intuitively and without hesitation to any situation.  In Wado-ryu  skill and knowledge are acquired through training and concentrated effort, the student is said to develop inner strength and calmness of character, as well as virtues of self-control, respect for others, and true humility.  Karate-do for Ohtsuka is primarily a spiritual discipline:  "Violent action may be understood as the way of martial arts, but the true meaning of martial arts is to seek and attain the way of peace and harmony."


Last updated: 3/31/00