Kenwa Mabuni is the founder of the karate style known as shito-ryu. As a young boy he studied under Master Itosu, who taught Mabuni Shorin-ryu. Shorin-ryu originates from Shuti-te (“hand of Shuri”) and is known for its linearly powerful, speed-focused kata. Soon after Mabuni began learning under Master Higaonna as well. Higaonna founded Shorei-ryu based on Naha-te (“hand of Naha”). Naha-te use more circular motions to trap and control the opponent as well as evade and redirect attacks.

By the time he turned 30 Mabuni’s Masters had both passed on and he had started to pick up weapons as well as some Chinese Kung-fu. Through his intense interest in martial arts Mabuni was able to pick up an extensive knowledge of karate and from that knowledge Shito-ryu was founded.


Today Shito-ryu has the largest number of kata out of any karate system (Mabuni in his time was considered an expert on the history and meaning of kata). Since we will not be able to learn all 40 to 60 official Shito-ryu kata these are the ones we will focus on:


Shito-Ryu kata

Pinon (shodan and yondan) - “peaceful/calm mind” (1 and 4)

Naihanchi Shodan - “internal divided conflict” 1

Bassai Dai - “Penetrating a Fortress” major form

Kusanku Dai - “Looking to the Sky” major form

Seienchin - “Calm in the Storm”

Seipai - “18 Hands”

Kururunfa - “holding on long and striking suddenly”