NOTE: In an age of instant content, we offer the following merely as reference. The essence of kata cannot be learned through screen time alone. In-person training with a qualified instructor is necessary to acquire connection, nuance, and deeper meaning.
The “Fukyugata,” or “promotional kata,” were developed in 1941 by Shoshin Nagamine of Shorin-ryu (Fukyugata 1) and Chojun Miyagi of Goju-ryu (Fukyugata 2) upon the request of the then Okinawa Prefecture Governor, Hajime Hayakawa. Their purpose was to make karate accessible to rank beginners, discarding – as much as possible – the classical nuances of various styles.
Fukyugata 1 – Erik Matsunaga
Fukyugata 2 – Erik Matsunaga
The five “Pinan” kata were developed by Anko Itosu (1831-1915) of Gibo Village, Shuri, Okinawa, in the early 1900s. It is widely posited that Itosu drew from longer, classical kata in the creation of this series to make them more manageable for schoolchildren. A then teacher at the First Prefectural Junior High School, he systematized Shuri-te (a predecessor of today’s Shorin-ryu) into a modern context for greater accessibility to the masses, and was instrumental in karate’s introduction into the Okinawan school system. For this, Anko Itosu is largely credited as “The Father of Modern Karate.”
Pinan 1 – Tetsuo Makishi
Pinan 2 – Tetsuo Makishi
Pinan 3 – Tetsuo Makishi
Pinan 4 – Tetsuo Makishi
Pinan 5 – Tetsuo Makishi
Naihanchi is an ancient kata thought to have evolved from a transmission originating in Fuzhou, China. Prior to Itosu’s composing of the Pinan series, the Naihanchi were the first taught kata of Shuri-te & Tomari-te, which collectively evolved into Shorin-ryu. While Naihanchi 1 & 2 are fairly standard across all branches of Shorin-ryu, Matsubayashi Shorin-ryu’s version of Naihanchi 3 is unique unto itself.
Naihanchi 1 – Kiyomasa Maeda
Naihanchi 2 – Tetsuo Makishi
Naihanchi 3 – Scott Mastin
Training with weaponry gives one invaluable additional insight into empty-handed movements. Although somewhat anachronistic in its selection of ancient hardware, traditional Okinawan kobudo reveals principles of movement and handling that transcend any particular object. Once a student has progressed to a certain level, we may introduce the following weapons: sai, bo, nunchaku, and tsue. Unlike our karate, our practice of kobudo does not derive of any singular lineage. Each method, rather, has been passed down through a variety of visiting instructors to either Little Tokyo or Ravenswood Dojo.
Tsuken Shitahaku no Sai – Hiro Kobayashi
Tsue no Kata – Walter Nishinaka
The art of self-defense is an element of what we practice, but self-defense as a whole requires much more than physical attributes. Awareness, avoidance, de-escalation, self-confidence, and prevention are all aspects of self-defense that should be engaged in addition to physical techniques. That said, at its core karate is a physically combative martial art that contains within its kata principles of physical self-protection.
Crobar Style Escape – Art Ishii