The Kata maker
The Karate Sensei Anko Itosu was probably the first Sensei of Okinawa-te or Tode to create his own Katas. Previously, the okinawans who trained the Tode tried to maintain the Katas as they were learned, although the okinawans interpretations was already very distincts then the original chineses forms. However Kata suffered many modifications according to the vision of each Sensei, they seek to maintain a certain “tradiction” and a certain “lineage” with the chinese forms. Also it was very uncommon to learn or teach more than four or five Katas at this time, and here we are talking about the end of 19th. Anko Itosu has gone further and not just modified according to his vision the Katas learned from his Sensei Sokon Matsumura, but also created many series of new Katas. I believe he was the first master of Okinawa-te to numbered the Katas as series. Because of that he can be recognised as the “grandfather” of modern Karate. I believe the series created by Anko Itosu are:
The serie Pinan or Heian: Shodan, Nidan, Sandan, Yondan and Godan.
The serie Rohai: Shodan, Nidan and Sandan.
The serie Nahanchi or Naifanchin or Tekki: Shodan, Nidan and Sandan.
Besides these series, Itosu also created his versions of Katas learned from his teacher Sokon Matsumura. To these Katas he added the word Sho, meaning that these were “smaller” or “more humbled” Katas comparing to the originais.
The Katas were: the Passai Sho or Bassai Sho and the Kusanku Sho or Kanku Sho.
To the originals, he added the word Dai, meaning that these were “superiors” or originals versions of Matsumura, that are: the Passai Dai or Bassai Dai and the Kusanku Dai or Kanku Dai. Anko Itosu (or his studant Kenwa Mabuni I’m not sure which one) also created another version of Kusanku named Shiho Kusanku, that is nothing more than the Kata Kusanku executed in a straight line instead of its regular enbusen. This form of execute a Kata can be seen in the Kata Chinto and in the Itosu Kata Rohai Shodan.
In total Anko Itosu added an impressive mark of thirteen or more Katas to the Okinawan Karate.
And I speculated if the serie of Katas Jion, Jiin and Jitte would also be work of Itosu, once series of Katas like that didn’t exist before him.
After Anko Itosu, many Katas were created by okinawan and japanese Senseis and many series of Katas were made. Some exemples of Katas series are:
The series Gekisai and Fukiugata, from Chojun Myagi and Shoshin Nagamine.
The series Taikyoku, from Gigo Funakoshi.
The series Taikyoku, from Mas Oyama.
The series Taikyoku, from Gogen Yamaguchi
The series Juni no Kata, Yottsu no Kata and Shinsei, from Kenwa Mabuni and Kenei Mabuni.
Author: Eduardo Spengler