Karate Styles

Karate Styles

In the origins of martial arts is the explanation of the large number of karate styles that exist today.

Over the time, art has been spreading and the various teachers who have contributed their knowledge have been creating different lines of the same art. Karate styles have been consolidated over time giving rise to various interpretations of the same katas.

There are teachers who make lower positions or interpret different forming techniques and applications, resulting in Karate Styles.

In this Post we show you the different and main styles of karate.


Seiken Shukumine

This school was founded in Japan in the late 1940s by Seiken Shukumine,born in Okinawa in 1925.
It was developed mainly in Tokyo. Soko Kishimoto developed his technique through the “kake dameshi”, which means “a technique, a matter” and took As a disciple Shukumine, who began to investigate the techniques by fundamentally relating them to the principles of rotation, twisting, change and variation.
The KANJI characters of the style mean the following: GEN serenity, deep reason. SEI law, rule, form and master. RYU style, school. Thus, the aim of style is to achieve and form the deep reason for Karate Do.


  • The style comes from the Shuri Te branch, greatly influenced by the Tomari Te branch.
  • Among its characteristics we can highlight the high spiritual concentration, low center of gravity and great stability in postures, as well as an alternation between strength and fluidity.
  • Use the following hip positions:
    • KAISHIN front hip for delayed leg arm.
    • HAN SHIN hip at 45 degrees.
    • GYAKU HAN SHIN semi-frontal opposite hip.
    • CHOKU SHIN hip slathed.
  • The characteristic positions are: ZENKUTSU DACHI KOKUTSU DACHI FUCHI DACHI RYU NEN DACHI RENOJI DACHI NEKO ASHI DACHI (with two shapes, shomen and hanmi) GENSEI RYU.
    Regarding leg techniques, it uses, in addition to those common to the rest of the styles, two other very characteristic, EBI GERI and SAYO GERI.
    All these features are applied in the development of katas, in which there is a profuse use of turns and in which Torite Uke is used instead of Kakete uke.
    GENSEI RYU, by definition, is entwining with Okinawa’s purest karate tradition. It does not give up the sporting aspect, although it recognizes the difficulty of joining both aspects. It intends to keep its principles intact and has suffered little variation since its introduction in Spain.


Chojun Miyagi

Its founder was the master Chojun Miyagi (1887 – 1953).
It was developed mainly in the cities of Okinawa and Kyoto at the turn of the century.
The meaning of Goju Ryu is as follows: GO hardness JU softness RYU school.


The work is based on the conjunction between Force (Go) and Softness (Ju).
All of it is done with well-marked rhythms of contraction and relaxation, coupled with an IBUKI breath (sound ventral), which always seeks the development of inner energy (Ki).
Also characteristic is the work of hardening by pairs (KOTE KITAE), displacements (UNSOKU HO) and the realization of strongly executed movements, but of fluid action (MUCHIMI).
The positions used are high so they have the high center of gravity. Among the most features are: SANCHIN DACHI NEKOASHI DACHI SIKO DACHI ZENKUTSU DACHI.
Within the katas can be distinguished: HEISUGATA (Sanchin and Tensho) performed in a state of continuous tension to work breathing and physical endurance concentrated in the Tandem; KAISUGATA (other katas), where the force is concentrated in the tandem only at the time of execution of each technique. It can be said that the SANCHIN kata represents the GO and that the JU is represented in the Kata TENSHO.


Its founder was the Korean-born teacher Sosai Matsutatsu (1923-1994); the style was developed mainly in the city of Tokyo.
The meaning of the word Kyokushinkai is: KYOKU ultimate, the highest SHIN the truth or reality KAI association.
Its symbol is the kanku, which derives from the kata Kanku, where the hands rise to look through them to the sky and, in this way, the symbol is formed. The kanku is represented by a few points, each with a different meaning: the fingers involve the peaks to be reached; dolls involve power; and the center represents affinity, which implies depth.
It can be said that all kanku is based and closed in a circle that represents continuity and circular action.


The work is characterized by concentration and strength, not only physical, but also mental and spiritual.
One of the characteristics of Kyokushin kai is “combat”, which is of “full contact”.
In the technical executions will develop two types of breathing IBUKI NOGARE (deep and relaxed) and IBUKI SANKAI (deep, concentrated and sound).
There are another set of factors that characterize this School: All katas are preceded by a short period of concentration or mokusho (closed eyes and opening to yoi with Ibuki Sankai breath).
The blocages are also conceived as attacks, having to complete the two missions, deflect and strike at the same time.
The up-to-head arm (hikite) will be located at chest height, the only style that places it at that height.
The sleeves of the karategi jacket will be cut to three-quarters of the forearm. The black belts will wear the badge of their grade with yellow stripes. Attacks must be powerful; to do this is hit by sticking the hip in and delaying the shoulder at the beginning of the movement.
At the end of the technique the shoulders should be straight.
Style positions are not very low for easy travel, mobility and dodging.
Among the most characteristic positions are:


In leg techniques it is characteristic to move from the axis of symmetry of the body by a pronounced hip turn.


Geka Yung

This style was born in 1,940 in Tokyo as an organization of master practitioners of different martial arts in order to form a style of their own. Its founder was Korean schoolteacher Geka Yung.
Renbu Kai literally means “martial arts practitioners association”.
More broadly, its translation is “association for the practice of gentlemen”.


Very low and wide positions. Among the most features are:


His defenses are broad trajectory and his attacks deep, seeking maximum effectiveness. It is characteristic that her leg attacks (Mae geri and Yoko geri fundamentally) are of great depth (kekomi).


This school was created by teacher Kenwa Mabuni (Okinawa 1893 – 1957) in 1930.
Mabuni settled in Osaka City, where he taught at the university and the police.
The meaning of the word SHITO RYU is: SHI represents ITOSU (master of Mabuni) TO represents HIGAONNA (Master of Mabuni) RYU school.


Due to the influence of the itosu and Higaonna masters, there are several main forms of work: SHURI fast with natural positions (Itosu) strong NAHA with more stable positions (Higaonna) TOMARI mixture of the two previous forms.
This has resulted in the style being katas of Shuri-te, Naha-te and Tomari-te, which emerges as a mixture of the previous ones.
Natural positions are mainly used, neither very high nor very low.
However, they are often lower in defenses than in attacks. This fact is clearly reflected in the katas.
The different positions are used in all directions, coordinating, in displacement, the action of the hip and the rest of the body with the execution of the technique.
Within the characteristic positions of the School, are:


Defense techniques are usually open-handed, with a short course and in their execution they usually have output at 45 degrees.
Attacks and counterattacks are usually clenched-fist with short and fast travel, usually carried out with straight advances.
Leg techniques are often used at Chudan and Gedan levels, although Jodan and jumping are also worked on in training.
A lot of work is often done in pairs, performing Kumite applications with control of the adversary during the technique process until its culmination with a counterattack while even maintaining control on the ground.
In addition to classic defense techniques, it has techniques of:

  • GYAKU WAZA: control of the opponent.
  • NAGE WAZA: projection and sweeping techniques.
  • SHIME WAZA: strangulation techniques.

The breathism is usually Natural in the works of Shuri, Natural and Nogare in Tomari y Natural, Ibuki or Ibuki Nogare in Naha.


Sokon Matsumura

The origins of the Shurin-ryo date back to Okinawa’s oldest Karate, practiced by the sho dynasty aristocracy, recognizing itself as its main diffuser to Sokon Matsumura (1797-1890), although it is his pupil Anko Itosu (1832-1915) who was a former systematizes the teaching of the Sh-rin-r-ryo.
It is thus considered the oldest system of Okinawan Karate.
From Itosu, the Sh-rin-ry is divided into four main lines:

  • Kobayashi
  • Shobayashi,
  • Matsubayashi and
  • Matsumura.

The meaning of the word Sh-rin-rin (Kobayashi, in Japanese), refers to a small pine forest, in the Uchinanchu dialect, possibly mentioning the place where the Ti was studied and trained (art originating in Okinawa and predecessor of Karate).
SHO: “small” RIN: “forest” RYU: “school”


The Sh-rin-ry system is credited with the inheritance of the Ti and emphasizes speed (Hayaku), breathing (Kokyu) and natural mobility (Kirei), the continuous protection of the body (Mi o mamoru), the creation of power generated by the correct movement of the hip ( Koshi), fixed temporal contraction of the torso muscles and hip rotation (Gamaku), displacements and natural positions (Tenshin), angle locks and penetration into the opponent’s space (Irikumi).
It is also emphasized in Kakie’s exercises, the works of Kigu Undo (Makiwara, Chishi, Sashi, Kongoken, Tan, Tetsuarei, Geta, etc.), the body’s theacity and the hardening of Shimegata and Kitaegata.
All technical sequences always follow the order look/position-technique (Me-Ashi-Te).
Ryukyu kobujutsu’s work is also common among the descendant schools of the Shurin-ryo.


Shigeru Egami

The Shoto kai style, as it is known today, is the result of a technical evolution from the original style, developed under the direction of master Shigeru Egami (1912-1981).
SHOTO KAI Shoto Association (pseudonym of Master Funakoshi)


The basic concept is that the body should be relaxed.
Movements should be relaxed and with minimal stress until the moment of impact; the center of gravity, low; and the mind, receptive, awake and relaxed.
It is considered that as long as there is no physical contact the kime does not apply.
Unnecessary interruptions and interruptions of movement should be avoided to allow for greater fluidity.
Likewise, elasticity becomes necessary so that the techniques cover longer distances, which are wider.
The movement of the hip will go in favor of the technique (Jyun Kaiten).
Throughout the life of the Shoto kai practitioner the goal of the search for ki and its use is raised.
To do this, the breath with which you normally work is Nogare. Both defense and attack techniques use as much weight of the body as possible, concentrating on one point for greater impact.
In order for the displacement to be fast and fluid the change of body weight has to be carried out easily, quickly and naturally, without interruption and maintaining a continuous contact of the feet with the ground, sliding on it. Shoto Kai also tries to maintain continuity between the different techniques, in a natural, harmonious and fluid way.
The most characteristic positions in this style are:


To make a kata the important points are: the rhythm, slow and fast in the techniques; intensity, high and low in energy; expansion and retraction of the body; Nogare and the Kihaku or spirit in sync with the Shin Gi Tai.


Karate Styles
Gichin Funakoshi

Its creator was Master Gichin Funakoshi, born in Shuri (Okinawa) in 1868. He began practicing Okinawa-te and subsequently demonstrated in Kyoto and Tokyo.
The meaning of the name of the Style is: SHOTO pseudonym of master Gichin Funakoshi KAN house.


This style is characterized by the firmness of its positions, the twist and impulse of the hip and the power and fluidity of its techniques, based all on a perfect knowledge of how the muscles and joints act in the different techniques, as happens with other Sports.
The fundamental positions in this style are:


The Zenkutsu dachi position has two variants (Hanmi or side and Gyaku Hanmi, or opposite side) in addition to the normal position; in all cases the weight of the body is distributed: the 60 in the advanced leg and the 40 in the backward.
Variants have a different use for each case:

  1. ZENKUTSU DACHI: although also used in blocs, it is most effective in counterattacks or direct attacks with both arms, or circular with the backleg arm.
  2. HANMI ZENKUTSU DACHI: used to perform defenses and circular attacks with the advanced leg arm.
  3. GYAKU HANMI ZENKUTSU DACHI: with which you execute defenses and circular attacks with the arm of the leg late. This variant is narrower and smaller than the previous ones, with the tension of the leg muscles inward (thighs). The Kokutsu dachi position is very strong backwards suitable for carrying out blocs, being very effective when stopping or dodging backwards or obliquely to then speed to Zenkutsu-dachi and counterattack. The weight is dealed a 70 in the backleg and a 30 in the forward.
  4. Kiba dachi is a very strong laterally used position to perform techniques to the side whether it be stops or circular arm blows. The weight is spread out to 50 on each leg. As mentioned above, the twist and impulse of the hip enjoy a paramount importance in this style. Although there has always been more emphasis on hip rotation than on hip thrust, in reality both have the same importance.
  5. There are two different ways to turn your hip:

JYUN KAITEN in the same sense of technique (Gyaku Shoto Uke…) GYAKU KAITEN in the opposite direction to the technique (Kizami Tsuki, Uchi Uke…).
In this style the turns are made on the heel of the pivot leg if they are 90o or more, using the plant for 45o turns. In the defenses should be emphasized in the Hikite and the turn of the hip, so that these serve as a stop and attack at the same time.


Karate Styles
Kanbun Uechi

This school was created by Teacher Kanbun Uechi (Okinawa 1877 – 1948).
In 1924 he began teaching his art, still being a hidden and nameless school.
In 1932 he opened his Dojo in Wakayama making his teachings public.
In this first stage master Kanbun Uechi christens his style with the name Pangainoon, meaning half hard and half soft; concept that was used by other masters of the time as the Goju style of Master Chojun Miyagi.
In 1940 his son Kanei changed the name of the school to Uechi Ryu in honor of the founder of the style with the blessing of the teacher’s oldest students.
The meaning of the word Uechi Ryu is: Uechi Last Name of Master Kanbun. RYU style


The mastery of hardness and softness.
The mastery of the Kotsukake through the work of kata Sanchin, (three progresses), to achieve mental endurance, develop and strengthen muscles, as well as vital organs to be able to reject blows.
The defenses are made with both hands and usually circularly.
The attacks are sharp and always directed at vital parts of the body, being the most characteristic: Shouken, fist with the knuckle of the index finger. Chuken, fist that forms with the half phalanges of the hand. Nukite, fingertips.
Boshiken, formed with his thumb folded, striking with the phalanx of this. Shukouken, top of the wrist.
Sokusen, thumb tip.
The characteristic positions are Sanchin-dachi, Nekoashi-dachi and Suegoshi-dachi mainly, although Zenkutsu-dachi and even Shiko-dachi are also used in some training.
Breathing is based on air retention, both in attack and defense, releasing a small amount of air after each technique or impact with a characteristic sound between Si and Su, unique in karate.


Karate styles
Hironori Otsuka

This School was created by teacher Hironori Otsuka (1892 – 1982) approximately in 1934.


Otsuka introduced Jyu Kumite’s practice to teaching.
Positions are high and natural to allow fast movements.
Hip orientation is essential: SHOMEN (front), HANMI (diagonal) and MAHANMI (profile).
Characteristic items include:

ZENKUTSU DACHI (4 embodiments):



NEKO ASHI DACHI (3 embodiments):

SEISHAN DACHI (2 ways of realization):

In katas, blockages are usually carried out at the Jodan level. Kihon Kumite’s work is based on the in-depth study of real combat, using blunt OkinawaKaran techniques and adapted Jiu Jitsu movements.

There are indeed more karate styles than if they are more localized in Japan. There are other styles that mix with other schools and have little to be Westernized or otherwise practiced little in the West.

Madrileña Karate Federation
Spanish Karate Federation

Kimonosport-web 2019

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