Karate: Japanese Self-Defense
There are four major styles of Karate today: Shito-ryu, Goju-ryu, Shotokan-ryu, and Wado-ryu. A brief description of each one is provided here.
Shotokan-ryu, which was founded by Funakoshi, came from Shorin-ryu (from Shuri-te), and utilizes long linear stances and physical power. This style was one of the first styles to be introduced to Japan in the 1920's. Powerful kata such as Bassai (Shuri-te) are typical of this style.
Goju-ryu was founded by Miyagi. It came from Shorei-ryu (from Naha-te and Tomari-te), which utilize up and down stances and internal breathing power (known as "hard and soft" techniques). Kata such as Sanchin (Naha-te) and Rohai (Tomari-te) demonstrate these techniques well.
Shito-ryu was founded by Mabuni. It is a combination of Shorin-ryu and Shorei-ryu, which makes this style a lot like a combination of Goju-ryu and Shotokan-ryu. Shito-ryu is fast, but is still powerful and artistic. Its kata include the same kata as Shotokan-ryu and Goju-ryu, as well as some artistic Chinese white crane kata such as Nipaipo. Shito-ryu also practices with Kobudo (weapon arts) and sometimes Iaido (sword arts) as part of the style, which makes Shito-ryu fairly unique among the modern Karate styles.
Wado-ryu is a derivative of Shotokan-ryu. It was founded by Ohtsuka, a student of Funakoshi.
Shito-ryu Style Description
As stated above, Shito-ryu is a combination of two different styles of Karate: Shorin-ryu and Shorei-ryu. This combination makes Shito-ryu a blend of power and speed. Shito-ryu emphasizes very much on Kihon (basics) at the beginning, but for a senior student, quality and quantity run together. Shito-ryu contains all eighteen Shorin-ryu katas, all sixteen Shorei-ryu katas, the Chinese white crane katas, plus the katas devised by Mabuni himself from his broad knowledge and experience, for a total of over 60 katas (depending on the organization).
Moreover, Shito-ryu lives together with Kobudo (weapon arts) and Iaido (sword arts) as well. Kobudo katas and Iaido katas, along with Kihon, Kumite, all the other Karate katas, and the principles and messages behind them made the treasury of Shito-ryu so magnetic and demanding that it truly deserves a life-long dedication to practice and perfect.