Principles - Kenwa Mabuni


Kenwa Mabuni (1889-1952 founder of Shito-Ryu) started karate training at the age of 13 under Anko Itosu (1830-1915), the man who organized early karate in the Okinawan school system. Itosu was a student of one of Okinawas most famous karate masters, Sokon Matsumura (1792-1887), the forefather of Shorin-Ryu. Itosu took a strong liking to his young pupil and Mabuni learned some 23 kata before the elder man died.

While still in his teens, Mabuni was introduced by his friend, Chojun Miyagi (the founder of Goju-Ryu karate) to Kanryo Higaonna (1853-1915). From Higaonna, Mabuni learned Naha-te, a Chinese-influenced karate style. Mabuni also trained under the reclusive Arakaki Kamadeunchu (1840-1918),who taught a style similar to Higaonna. Arakaki also taught Tsuyoshi Chitose, the founder of Chito-Ryu, Gichin Funakoshi of Shotokan, and Kanken Toyama of the Shudokan school.

During the 1920's the insatiable Mabuni participated in a karate club operated by Miyagi and Choyu Motobu, with help from Chomo Hanashiro and Juhatsu Kiyoda. Choyu Motobu was a master of Shuri-te (the antecedent of Shorin-Ryu) and gotende, the secret grappling art of the Okinawan royal court. Hanashiro was also a Shuri-te expert, while Kiyoda came from the same Naha-te background as Miyagi. Known as the Ryukyu Tode Kenkyu-kai (Okinawa Karate Research Club), this dojo (training hall) was one of historys gems. Experts from diverse backgrounds trained and taught there, and it was there that Mabuni learned some Fukien white crane kung fu from the legendary Woo Yin Gue, a Chinese tea merchant living on Okinawa.

Shito-Ryu, along with Goju-Ryu, Wado-Ryu and Shotokan, has become one of the four major karate systems of Japan (the Japanese islands excluding Okinawa).

The following are the recorded 5 principles of Shito Ryu from Kenwa Mabuni.

Rakka: (Like a Falling Flower). To block with such force that if it were applied to the trunk of a tree, it would lose all its flowers. A block should be applied so decisively that it not only halts the opponents attack but defeats it with a single technique. This oftens involves striking an off-center or indirect attack with sudden maximum power

Ryusui: (Like Flowing Water). You should flow with your opponents movements, using them against him and as an aid to your defense. Respond to your opponent using fluid movement. For example, Redirecting a strong attack with a circular or deflecting parry

Kushin: (Bending). Control of an attack that uses body movement originating in the knees. Keep your spine straight and use your knees to control your height, giving you balance and the strength of your legs so that little effort is required to control the attack. This can also become a reflexive, darting "out and in" kind of body shifting from any angle.

Teni: (Body movement). Essentially avoiding your opponents attack using body movement. Stepping in all directions to confuse your attacker and facilitate your Hangeki. Includes shifting or turning quickly out of the opponent's way.

Hangeki: (Counter attack). When the need arises, respond to your opponents attacks with decisive, powerful counter-attacks. By utilising the first four principles, you may never need to implement the fifth, but if required you should apply your whole mind and body to the counter. In some cases it's as simple as that 'a good defense is offense'.

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