Shogen-Ryu Kata

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act but a habit

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.”

普 及 型 一­­­ & 二

Fukyugata Ichi & Ni (“Promotional Kata”)

These two introductory kata were created in 1941 at the request of the Governor of Okinawa to allow beginners and school children to practice karate beginning with more basic kata.  Fukyugata 1 was created by Shoshin Nagamine, the founder of Matsubayashi-Ryu Karate-Do and one of the three main instructors of Taba Sensei.  Fukyugata 2 was created by Chojun Miyagi, the founder of Goju-Ryu.

ピンアン 初段 - 五段

Pinan Shodan – Godan (“Peace Kata”)

Pinan shodan through to godan were created by Anko Itosu in 1907.  They were created with the intention that they would be taught to high school students.  They are commonly considered to emphasize speed.  It is debated whether Itosu created the Pinan Kata from the current higher level kata or from an unknown lost kata called “Chanan.”  Gichin Funakoshi modified the Pinan katas and renamed them “Heian” when he introduced karate to mainland Japan.  He also changed Pinan 1 to Heian 2 and Pinan 2 to Heian 1.  There are several technique differences between the Pinan kata of Shogen-Ryu and other branches.  One of the most noteable being the “attack” mentality of the first technique of each kata.

ナイハンチ 初段 - 三段

Naihanchi Shodan – Sandan (“Horse Riding Kata”)

While the creator of these kata is unknown, Naihanchi were the original beginner kata before the creation of the Fukyugata and Pinan Kata.  Kata Naihanchi utilize the Naihanchi-dachi, or “Horse Riding” stance.  They are commonly considered to emphasize power and may have developed from a single, longer Chinese Shaolin form called Naifuanchin.



The first advanced kata of the Shogen-Ryu curriculum. Originally a Chinese form, it is characterized by strong power movements, most of which are performed in the zenkutsu-dachi stance.

王 冠

Okan (Wankan) “King’s Crown”

While the creator of this kata is unknown, it was practiced primarily in the Tomari region of Okinawa and is a combination of power and elegance with sequences of offensive and defensive techniques.  The Shogen-Ryu Kata Okan is a favorite kata of Taba Sensei and has been scrutinized extensively in its development within Shogen-Ryu.

Taba, Sensei created his own version of Wankan kata referred to as Taba Wankan. This kata is not taught outside of the Shogen-Ryu system. Although on the surface this looks like a simplified version of the original Wankan kata, Maeda Sensei explains the underlying principle as being the development of “ikken hissatsu” or “one strike, one kill.”

鷺 牌


Another kata of unknown origin that was practiced primarily in the Tomari region of Okinawa, Rohai is a graceful kata identified by its single leg stance techniques in which the other leg is drawn up and ready to strike.  One particular way in which the Shogen-Ryu Kata Rohai differs from the Tomari Kata Rohai is that the left arm does not get thrown above the head during the single leg stance techniques.  Rather, the left arm is thrown up to chest level with the snap of the hip to block the middle region of the body.

汪 楫


Believed to have been brought to Okinawa by a Chinese envoy named Wanshu in 1683, this kata is identified by its use of kakushi-zuki, or hidden fist punches

拔 塞


This kata is known for its numerous knife hand techniques done in series.  In line with the Shogen-Ryu philosophy of efficiency, more emphasis is placed on shotei uchi, or “palm heel thrust,” rather than shuto uchi, or “knife hand” strike.



Literally “54 steps,” this kata is recognized by its use of the double spear hand and the movements resembling a drunken person.

鎮 闘


The only kata in the Shogen-Ryu curriculum (as well as most Okinawa Karate) to be performed at a diagonal to the front, Kata Chinto is the first kata to use a jump kick.

公 相 君


The longest and possibly most difficult kata of Shogen-Ryu. This kata was brought to Okinawa in 1761 by a Chinese Martial Artist named Kusanku.