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Who's Who in
Shito Ryu Karate

Kenwa Mabuni

Shito-ryu (糸東流, Shitō-ryū) is a form of karate that was developed in 1931 by Kenwa Mabuni (摩文仁 賢和, Mabuni Kenwa).

Shito-ryu is a combination style, which attempts to unite the diverse roots of karate. On one hand, Shito-ryu has the physical strength and long powerful stances of Shuri-te derived styles, such as Shorin Ryu and Shotokan (松涛館), on the other hand Shito-ryu has circular and eight-directional movements, breathing power, hard and soft characteristics of Naha-te and Tomari-te (泊手) styles, such as Goju-ryu (剛柔流). Shito-ryu is extremely fast, but still can be artistic and powerful. In addition, Shito-ryu formalizes and emphasizes the five rules of defense, developed by Kenwa Mabuni, and known as Uke no go gensoku (受けの五原則), Uke no go genri (受けの五原理) or Uke no go ho (受けの五法):
 

  • 落花 (rakka, "falling petals"). The art of blocking with such force and precision as to completely destroy the opponent's attacking motion. Examples of rakka are the most well-known blocks, such as gedan-barrai (下段払い) or soto-uke (外受け).
  • * 流水 (ryusui, "running water"). The art of flowing around the attacker's motion, and through it, soft blocking. Examples are nagashi-uke (流し受け) and osae-uke (押さえ受け).
  • 屈伸 (ku-ushin, "elasticity"). This is the art of bouncing back, storing energy while recoiling from the opponent's attack, changing or lowering stance only to immediately unwind and counterattack. Classic examples are stance transitions zenkutsu (前屈立ち) to koukutsu (後屈立ち) and moto-dachi (基立ち) to nekoashi-dachi (猫足立ち).
  • 転位 (teni, "transposition"). Teni is the utilization of all eight directions of movement, most importantly stepping away from the line of attack.
  • 反撃 (hangeki, "counterattack"). A hangeki defense is an attack which at the same time deflects the opponent's attack before it could reach the defender. Examples of this are various tsuki-uke's (突き受け), including yama-tsuki (山突き).

 

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