Shogen-Ryu Karate-Do is a culmination of Kensei Taba, Sensei’s knowledge and training under Shoshin Nagamine, Hoken Soken, Chosin Chibana and many other karate teachers. Maeda, Sensei describes how Taba, Sensei would approach other Okinawan karate teachers who were particularly skilled in a certain technique to seek their guidance and instruction on how to improve his own skill.
There are eighteen kata (forms) in the Shogen-Ryu karate system. The three most advanced kata are Taba Wankan, Chinto and Kusanku. As a karate-ka advances, learns and trains, the proper techniques and principles are taught and passed on from the teacher to the student. Training in kata are important for a number of reasons in that they preserve the defensive and offensive techniques, they teach karate-ka to move and react instinctively, and kata are also as a way of training or conditioning the body.
Breathing in Shogen-Ryu karate is done naturally rather than being forced as seen in some Okinawan karate systems. Natural breathing prevents an opponent from observing your breathing rhythm, thereby stopping an opponent from having the opportunity or advantage to attack or disrupt your breathing rhythm. Additionally Shogen-Ryu students neither fully exhale nor fully inhale when breathing, and there is always breath kept in the lower area of the abdomen.
One of the most frequently used term’s associated with the study of kata movements is “bunkai” which could be simplified as “analysis of the movement.” When training in the Maeda dojo the term bunkai is seldom used. Sensei refers to the study of kata as “ti chi ki” which translates as the study of “what the hand is doing.” It is also not unusual to hear the term “di” being used instead of “kata”, for example Gojushiho “di” instead of Gojushiho kata. Di is an Unchinanguchi word meaning hand. Prior to the more modernised Japanese term “karate” being used, Okinawan martial arts would have been referred to as “ti, tode, di, te” or similar Unchinanguchi wording meaning “hand” or “empty hand.”