Kata Names:

Introduction

This document is a comprehensive list of kata from the Chito Ryu system of karate as taught by the Canadian and International Chito Kai. Chito Ryu was founded by Dr. Chitose Tsuyoshi (1898-1984), herein referred to as O-Sensei.

The kata listing includes the Asian kanji characters that represent the kata names. In all cases, the Japanese translation of the kanji character is used, but for many of the kata, their origin lies in China and the Chinese pronunciation is included.

Note: I haven't included the sho/dai versions of the katas (i.e. Niseishi sho, Niseishi dai) as sho means "small" or "lesser" and dai means "greater" or "large" but otherwise, the meaning of the kanji is exactly the same.

Index

A Note on kata names

All of the katas that are named with numbers (Niseishi(24), Seisan(13), Sanshiru (36) and kata from other styles, Suparempai(108), Nipaipo(28), Seipai (18), Gojushiho (54) etc.) were practiced in China and passed to Okinawa in the 19th century and earlier. Historians debate the significance of numbers as kata names. There are several theories, the simplest being that the number was the number of movements in the kata when it was created. Others think that in ancient China, a charting system was created numbering the vital points on the human body and sets of movements were created to attack these points (see Patrick McCarthy's "Bubishi"). As with most cultural phenomenon in China, there is a definite Buddhist influence on some kata names. In Buddhism, the number 108 has great significance, specifically referring to the 108 defilements (refer to Furyu online issue number 7 for an explanation of the 108 defilements and their significance - their site is being re-done and no longer includes the article on the 108 defilements). This is reflected with the kata as many of the kata names are factors of 108, i.e. Gojushiho (54), Sanshiru (36), Seipai (18).

Please remember that in many cases, kanji representations of kata names are often very recent. Many kata names were unwritten until late in the last century. Prior to this, kata names were often passed through oral tradition alone. When karateka wanted to write the kanji down, it may have been the case that the writer didn't know the meaning, and used kanji that he thought represented the kata in some sensible way (phonetic sound of the kata name is an obvious possibility), it may not be the original name at all. Because of this, there can sometimes be different kanji for the same kata, or incorrect kanji altogether.


Shihohai:

Shi - four (i.e. ichi, ni, san, shi)

Ho - side, direction

Hai - pray, exonerate, salute

Shihohai translates as "salute to four sides" and is a kata that is unique to Chito-Ryu and other styles that derive from the teachings of O-Sensei (Tsuruoka-do, Yoshukai). The kata was performed at formal ceremonies and the salute to four sides was of great significance. The kata was taught to O-Sensei by an Okinawan gungfu master named Aragaki Seisho (Aragaki Ou, or Aragaki Maya 1840-1918/20) who learned and trained in Fukien in southern China.

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Niseishi:

Ni - two

Ju/Sei - ten

Shi - four

Ho - walk, move

Niseishi is Chinese for the number 24. In Japanese, it translates as Nijushi, the "ho" character means "move" and hence Nijushiho translates as "24 moves". The Chinese and Japanese Kanji are identical.

Chito Ryu Niseishi is not the same kata as Nijushiho/Niseishi from Shuri-te lineage styles, even the embusen (stepping pattern) is different. The complete origin of Chito Ryu Niseishi is unknown, however some pieces of our Niseishi can be found in other Okinawan kata.

Some Goju Ryu schools, specifically those in the line of Higa Seiko (a student of Higashionna Kanryo and later Miyagi Chojun) practiced a kata they call "Hakutsuru" (some Japanese pronounce this Hakaku, in either case, it means "White Crane") which contains the "cut, front kick, slide forward, x-block, back to square stance, ridge hand strike, repeat" sequence.

It seems that Seiko Higa obtained this Hakaku kata from Gokenki (1886-1940), the Chinese tea merchant who taught White Crane gungfu in Okinawa from 1912/13 until his death. Higa Seiko, Gokenki and O-Sensei were all involved in an organization to study karate called the "Ryukyu Tode Kenkyukai" (Okinawan Tote research club) that was loosely active from 1918 to about 1927.

A video cassette produced by The Martial Source called "Secrets of the White Crane" contains the Hakaku kata, called "Hakutsuru-dai" on the video. The video features Mr. John Sells performing the kata. Having seen the video, Chito Niseishi is unmistakable. Mr. Sells was also kind enough to provide further historic information on the origin of Hakaku.

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Rohai:


Ro - heron

Hai - sign

Hai (??)

Rohai translates as "heron sign" or "heron mark". The name "Rohai", with identical kanji, is the name of a traditional Okinawan kata. The traditional Okinawan kata is not the same kata as the Chito-Ryu Rohai and includes the signature moves of standing on one leg to avoid leg attacks. The origins of Chito-Ryu Rohai are unknown.

The third kanji symbol that I have marked, I was unable to find in any Japanese kanji dictionaries and hence I have no translation. It was used to denote the "Hai" in Rohai in Higashi Sensei's old technical manual (Chito Ryu Karate, by Shane Y. Higashi). I constructed the picture of this kanji from 2 kanji radicals (on the left and right respecitively), one meaning "one-sided", "leaf", "sheet" and the second meaning "bird" however, this probably doesn’t hint at the final translation when the two are combined.

Form more information, see Sanshiru.

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Seisan (Chito Ryu):

Sei - formal, correct

Sei/San(?) - arrangement, position

These kanji represent Chito-Ryu Seisan, and translate as "correct arrangement" or as is traditionally understood, "correct posture". O-Sensei changed the kanji to reflect the requirement for correct posture in order to perform the kata properly. When I researched these kanji, the second character is pronounced "sei", not "san", so the two kanji together would be pronounced "seisei".

Even though the kanji characters for Chito Ryu Seisan are different than the classical kanji for Seisan, our version closely resembles the Seisan from other schools. We know that Seisan was among the first kata that O-Sensei learned from Aragaki Seisho. Despite the fact that O-Sensei credited Aragaki Seisho for teaching him Seisan, Seisan taught in Chito Ryu curriculums today more closely resembles the Kyan version of Seisan, although there are distinctive pieces of Aragaki Seisan remaining.

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Seisan (Classical):

Ju/Sei - ten

San - three

This is the original Chinese kanji for Seisan, it means thirteen (13 techniques, not 13 movements). In most (if not all) other styles that practice Seisan, this is the kanji representation. Not only is it practiced in multiple Okinawan styles of karate (both Naha-te and Shuri-te lineages), it continues to be practiced in China by several schools of gungfu (Arhat or Monk Fist boxing, Lion Fist boxing and Tiger Fist boxing).

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Bassai:

Batsu - pull out, remove, surpass, outdistance

Sai - close, shut, lock, cover, obstruct

Traditionally, Bassai translates as "to penetrate a fortress", or "to storm a fortress". From the translation that I have been able to attain from these kanji, it seems to mean "to remove an obstacle". Possibly, the kata means "uprooted fortress", as in a fortress that is uprooted and mobile like a phalanx, this would be in the spirit of the kata, as it incorporates quick motions but then roots for solid attack and defence portions like a fortress. This is only a guess at the translation however, the oldest known version originated in the mid 1800's in Nishihara village on the east side of Shuri. The original kanji (and original meaning) could easily have been lost over the last 150 years.

From most references that we have, Chito Ryu Bassai was passed to O-Sensei either by Kyan Chotoku or one of Kyan's students, Aragaki Ankichi (not to be confused with O-Sensei's first teacher, Aragaki Seisho). Chito Ryu Bassai closely resembles Matsubayashi Ryu Bassai (Passai) as well as Seibukan Bassai, other styles in the Kyan/Aragaki Ankichi lineage. Kyan Chotoku learned his Bassai from a Tomari village master named Oyadomari Kokan, the version we do is very similar to the unaltered Oyadomari Bassai.

Although our Bassai is from Tomari village, it bears a striking resemblance to the Shuri versions of Bassai (the Bassai-dai from Shotokan and Shito-Ryu are examples of the Shuri Bassai) and definitely shares a common root. The main difference between the Shuri version and the Tomari version are that the Shuri versions are done primarily with closed fists, while the Tomari versions are primarily open handed.

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Chinto:

Chin - to calm or quell

To - East

Traditionally, "Chinto" translates as "fighting to the east", which could be interpreted from these characters, i.e. quelling a disturbance to the east. Chinto is a shuri-te and tomari-te lineage kata and found in many current styles, including Shotokan (they call it "Gankaku", or "crane on a rock"), as well as many Shorin Ryu schools. O-Sensei learned this kata from Kyan Chotoku.

O-Sensei modified Chinto to remove repetitive motion. As a result, the Chito-Ryu version of Chinto is significantly shorter than other versions. According to John Sells, a prominent karate historian, the oldest forms of Chinto were performed to the right and left, unlike the current Chito Ryu version performed forward and back. Kyan Chotoku modified the version he learned and performed Chinto at a 45 degree angle. We see the 45 degree angle in several schools, all derived from students of Kyan (Matsubayashi and Seibukan for example). O-Sensei modified the version he learned from Kyan Chotoku to the current form we practice. It's possible that he changed the kata to conform to the Chinto kata being performed in Shuri at the time, which had the techniques performed forward and back (as in Gankaku).

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Sochin:

So - villa, inn, solemn

Chin - to calm or quell

The origins of Chito-Ryu Sochin are unknown. We believe that it was passed to O-Sensei by Aragaki Seisho, but this isn't certain. Certainly, Aragaki passed a version of Sochin to other people and O-Sensei probably learned this kata, but the Chito Ryu Sochin seems different from other versions of Sochin, including the familiar version in Okinawa (Aragaki Sochin taught in Shito Ryu for example), and the Shotokan version which doesn't resemble either of the other two.

In Chito Ryu Sochin, a distinguishing piece of the kata comes at the very beginning where the karateka lowers their stance and assumes a pose reminecent of a bull preparing to charge. This attack/defence position is done to four directions.

For more information, see Sanshiru.

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Tenshin:

Ten - roll, turn, pivot

Shin - body

Tenshin means "body turning" or "body pivoting" and is likely a kata developed by O-Sensei based on some training exercises. The exercises are of unknown origins and Tenshin is only practiced by Chito Ryu karateka. Quick, evasive body shifting, and body twisting with quick counter strikes characterize the kata.

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Ryusan:

Ryu – Dragon

San - Mountain

Although this kanji representation translates as "Dragon Mountain", O-Sensei has been quoted as translating the name to mean "Three dragons" as well (i.e. San = three). O-Sensei learned this kata from Hanashiro Chomo, who received it from Gokenki (1886-1940), the Chinese tea merchant and White Crane practitioner who trained and taught in Okinawa in the early part of the 20th century (from around 1913 until his death in 1940).

This was thought to be a kata practiced only in Chito Ryu, but has recently been found in other styles as well. Koryu (old style) karate, promoted by Patrick McCarthy and his teacher Kinjo Hiroshi (a direct student of Hanashiro Chomo) practice a kata called Ryushan (also called Ryushu). The koryu version is significantly longer than the Chito Ryu version because O-Sensei removed portions of the kata, as he was known to do. The link between the two kata is quite obvious, even on casual inspection.

The kata is also practiced by an offshoot of Matsumura Seito Ryu (Matsumura Orthodox style) called Matsusoken. Matsumura Seito is a style passed to contemporary students by Hohan Soken, a well known Okinawan karate master in the direct karate lineage of "Bushi" Matsumura.

The newer Matsusoken group do a kata called Ryusoken which is one of their Hakutsuru (White Crane) kata. This group was formed by an American named Anthony Sandoval who collected many White Crane kata throughout Okinawa (this comes from several of Mr. Sandoval's direct students). From seeing the kata, elements of Ryusan are present, but the link is not obvious.

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Sanshiru:

San - three

Ju/Shi - ten

Roku/Ryu/Ru - six

Sanshiru is the Chinese word for the number thirty-six (36). Chito Ryu Sanshiru is almost certainly unrelated to the Sanshiru (Sanseiru) kata practiced by Goju Ryu or Uechi Ryu. A more likely origin seems to lie with Kyan Chotoku, one of O'Sensei's Tote instructors. Kyan practiced a kata called Gojushiho (literally "54 steps") which Sanshiru looks closely related to. The link is close enough that Sanshiru can probably be called the Chito-ryu version of Gojushiho.

Kyan's version of Gojushiho can be found in several styles, including Seibukan Shorin-ryu, which is the version I assessed to form my opinions. The links are most obvious in the kneeling stance, cross block (iaigoshi-dachi, kosa uke), double punch (sayu-zuki) and the sequence immediately preceding these movements. The movements are interpreted differently in the Seibukan version but they are so similar that a direct borrowing is likely.

Another idea of note coming from Sanshiru's similarity to Kyan Gojushiho is the possible relation to Chito-ryu Rohai and Sochin which share some commonalities with Sanshiru. Rohai starts and ends like Kyan Gojushiho, and Sochin seems less related, but worth looking at more closely.

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Kusanku:

Ku - public, prince, official, governmental

Shu - mutual, together, each other, minister of state, councillor

Kun – old boy, name-suffix

Kusan (or Kushu, sometimes Kosho) translates as "foreign attache" or similar government official. In many historical references, Kusanku is said to be the name of a Chinese sailor who taught tote in Okinawan in 1756. It is likely that the kata is based on his teachings, or perhaps a kata that he taught while in Okinawa.

O-Sensei learned a version of this kata from Kyan Chotoku (who got it from Yara of Chatan village, grandson of the Chatan Yara who was contemporary to Sakugawa and a student of Kusanku, the Chinese sailor). Many Shorin lineage styles include a version of Kusanku and most are fairly similar. Funakoshi Gichin renamed this kata and Shotokan lineages call the kata Kanku, which translates as "To View the Sky" (this name is in reference to the opening move in Kusanku). Chito Ryu Kusanku looks very similar to many other versions of Kusanku at the beginning (opening the arms wide followed by 2 open handed blocks), but otherwise is very different from other versions.

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Sanchin:

San - three

Sen/Chin - war, battle, match

Sanchin is a common Okinawan karate kata found in styles from the Naha-te lineage (Goju Ryu, Uechi Ryu, Shito Ryu, Isshin Ryu etc…). It has its origins in Fukien China and was passed several times to Okinawa by notable tote masters, including Higaonna Kanryo and Aragaki Seisho, both teachers of O-Sensei.

The version of the kata practiced by Chito Ryu karateka has elements of both the classical Goju Ryu Sanchin kata, and the Goju Ryu kata called Tensho. Miyagi Chojun a student of Higaonna Kanryo and the founder of Goju Ryu, devised Tensho based on a Chinese kata called Rokkishu. Miyagi Chojun and O-Sensei were students under Higaonna at the same time and no doubt learned many of the same kata and practices.

No one knows for certain what the kata name means: "Three battles", what battles exactly? Because Sanchin is so difficult to perform correctly, many think that the three battles are internal, perhaps battles with the body, mind and spirit. Soke Sensei, in Kumamoto suggested "Ten Chi Jin" or "Heaven, Earth and Person" and that all of these must be in harmony to perform properly. "Ten Chi Jin" is much more in line with Eastern philosophy, while the "Mind, Body and Spirit" is more of a western view of the kata.

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References

  Kata Kanji obtained from: Kanji translated using: Historic and kata references:

 

I had a great time writing this short list of Chito Ryu kata. I'm always looking for ways to improve it, please don't hesitate to e-mail me with corrections or new information. Also, I'd like to thank people who have discussed the contents with me and made suggestions and improvements, including in no particular order, James d'Eon, Martin Phillips, Dave Griffin, Mike Colling, Brian McCarthy, George Ryan, Rick Rowell, Chris Johnstone and John Shaw. Please, if I've missed anybody, accept my appologies ahead of time.

I'm pleased to say that this web page seems to be a good idea and there are others out there producing similar pages. Take a look a page on the kata of Chung Do Kwan, a page produced by Brian McCarthy.

I encourage and welcome your comments on my adjunct kata page where I've started a list of rarely seen Chito-ryu kata.

Page Last Updated on September 3rd, 1999
Travis Cottreau