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Shito-Ryu is one of the four major styles of Japanese Karate practiced today. It was founded by the late master Kenwa Mabuni (1889-1952), who moved from Okinawa to Osaka in 1928, to teach karate.

Originally, Master Mabuni named his style “Hanko-Ryu” but then changed it to “Shito-Ryu” based on a combination of the kanji of his teachers Itosu and Higashionna. Master Mabuni developed an extensive repertoire of kata based on the teachings of Shur-te (Itosu) and Naha-te (Higaonna).

It also included kata of the white crane teachings of Gokenki. Shito-Ryu is also one of the few Japanese styles to maintain the practice of kobudo (Okinawan weaponry). Modern Shito-Ryu is characterized by fast, linear movement in kumite, and sharp, well-defined movement in kata. Many current international champions practice the Shito-Ryu style of karate.


Master Mabuni developed his system around five basic principles of defense which he termed “Uke no Gogensoku”. These include:

Teni: Avoiding your opponent's attack through body movement .

Ryusui: The ability to flow with your opponent's movement in a way that is controlling and which permits the defender to gain an advantage.

Kushin: Control of an attack that utilizes body movement originating in the knees and keeping the back straight so as to maintain balance and strength.

Rakka: To block in such a decisive manner that one's opponent is physically and psychologically defeated with one blow.

Hangeki: To counter an opponent with a decisive blow. Seen as the last resort on the continuum of use of force to defend one's self.

Another element fundamental to Shito-Ryu is that of “Tenshin Happo” or the eight directions of defensive movement.

Utilized by many forms of martial art, Tenshin Happo allows a defender to avoid an attack by shifting his/her body position to one of eight directions to gain a strategic advantage on the attacker.

Last Updated: September 2016