Four Major Styles of Japanese Karate.

searcher

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TonyU said:
I consider Shotokan a watered down version of Shorin Ryu, but that's just my opinion.
With a little Shorei-ryu thrown in for flavor.
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I was told that the designation of Shotokan, Goju, Shito and Wado as "major styles" of Japanese Karate was/is not an indication that ONLY these four are known in Japan.

It has more to do with the fact that Otsuka Hironori (Wado), M. Nakayama (Shotokan), Iwata Manzo (Shito) and Yamaguchi Gogen (Goju) were very prominent figures in Japan Karate scenes, and they were very much involved in the FOUNDING of Zen Nippon Karate-Do Renmei/Japan Karate-Do Federation/JKF. If I am not mistaken they were in the board of directors or something.

off course Karate from other styles such as Kyokushin, Shudokan, Renbukai, Rengokai etc can be accepted into the JKF as individual member. I am aware that those aforementioned styles has their own Katas and Kumite rules, but as long as they are willing to play by JKF rules during JKF competitions, there are no reason for people from other styles to not compete under JKF.

It is important to notice that Sakamoto Tsuguo (Kata World Champion) whom are very famous in the 80s-90s did not came from the big four, but rather, he came from Ryuei-ryu, which even in Okinawa does not have as large following as Matsubayashi, Isshin-ryu or Uechi-ryu.
 
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Ippon Ken said:
Other Okinawan styles which have mainly an Okinawan and Chinese influence are Uechi Ryu (or Pangai Noon), Mabuni Kenwa Shito Ryu and Isshin Ryu (Shorin/Goju hybrid). Ryuei Ryu, Jukendo

Jukendo? I know the Japanese bayonet-fencing system by this name, but not an Okinawan system. What is this?
 

twendkata71

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Ryuei ryu has a small following on Okinawa,but it is growing. The kata that Sakamoto won with ANAN is one of the most used and most winning kata in the WKF competitions. It starting to grow more on Mainland Japan and in the US. Ryuei ryu is an obscure style with a lot of depth. It has a lot of Chinese influence.






I was told that the designation of Shotokan, Goju, Shito and Wado as "major styles" of Japanese Karate was/is not an indication that ONLY these four are known in Japan.

It has more to do with the fact that Otsuka Hironori (Wado), M. Nakayama (Shotokan), Iwata Manzo (Shito) and Yamaguchi Gogen (Goju) were very prominent figures in Japan Karate scenes, and they were very much involved in the FOUNDING of Zen Nippon Karate-Do Renmei/Japan Karate-Do Federation/JKF. If I am not mistaken they were in the board of directors or something.

off course Karate from other styles such as Kyokushin, Shudokan, Renbukai, Rengokai etc can be accepted into the JKF as individual member. I am aware that those aforementioned styles has their own Katas and Kumite rules, but as long as they are willing to play by JKF rules during JKF competitions, there are no reason for people from other styles to not compete under JKF.

It is important to notice that Sakamoto Tsuguo (Kata World Champion) whom are very famous in the 80s-90s did not came from the big four, but rather, he came from Ryuei-ryu, which even in Okinawa does not have as large following as Matsubayashi, Isshin-ryu or Uechi-ryu.
 

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RyuShiKan said:
No kyokushi is very much part of the "Main 4". It is by itself the largest "style" of Karate on Mainland Japan.
I assure they are included in the JKF even though they do not participate in JKF tournaments.
I was a member of the JKF for over 10 years.
I can't say wether they are a part of the WKF or WUKO or whatever that thing is called now.

In the rest of this post you will see why kyokushin is not one of the "Big Four".

It is correct that Shotokan, Gojukai, Shito-ryu, and Wado-ryu are counted as the "Big 4" Japanese karate styles.

It is really strange that Wado-ryu is counted as a "Big 4", since its founder studied Shotokan under Funakoshi. I suppose this could also be said a little bit of Shito-ryu as well, since Mabuni studied and taught with Funakoshi for a short while. Though the influence was quite small on the structure od Shito-ryu.

Earlier on in this post aquestion was asked if there was a difference between Okinawan Goju and Japanese Goju. The two differences I have seen is the depth of the stances and the hard/soft relationship. The Japanese have longer deeper stances and are harder i their application ie. less soft style techniques.

I have been training in the style of Wado ryu for nearly 20 years now. I can clear up A LOT of confusion here. I have trained with Osaka, Ohtsuka Hironori (Jiro), as well as Koncho matsushima. I have also studied with several students of shotokan, shito-ryu, shorin-ryu, uechi-ryu, kung fu, shaolin, tae kwon do, and kyokushin. I have also studied with several other styles, but none for too long, or with much exposure.

To start off Ohtsuka did train quite a bit in jujitsu. He also studied quite a bit under Funakoshi, and became one of his senior students as well as Funakoshi sensei's assistant teacher in shotokan. The big four is a term used to reference what the 4 original JKF styles were. Now Wado-ryu is by far the smallest of the 4 styles, which is a shame IMO. We number just over 40,000, while styles like shotokan are in the millions, and Kyokushin which has 7 million I believe (if you ever get the chance check out the roster for the extra fighters on lord of the rings trilogy, mostly shodans and up of kyokushin). Kyokushin is not one of the "big four"... What does this mean? Nothing. Big four just means one of the originally registered styles. I have worked out and trained with Kyokushin for the last 5 years now, however I hold to my Wado-ryu ways.

If you watch goju-ryu fighters they are fairly active, and aggressive fighters, while shotokan is a hard strong styles, shito-ryu is more of a defensive style than aggressive. Wado-ryu is very fast, and we focus on technique. These four are what are the four originals, but there are many more styles.

It is good to know who and what the big four are, but in all reality it isn't that important. Whichever style fits to you best is what you should do most. That is what is great about karate, there are so many styles to choose from. The politics behind karate are unimportant to me, I keep my nose out of that. If you are a good fighter I will gladly fight you, and shake your hand after, if you are still learning the basics, I will teach you, and if you are a beginner I will welcome you. Really this topic should not matter, do which style feels right to you, if it isn't one of the "big four", live with it. If I trained in another style that I liked as much as Wado-ryu and I found out that it wasn't one of the big four I would not care one bit. As I have already said, Wado-ryu is not a large style, we haven't even hit 100,000 members yet. We are the small member of big four. However, every day that I train (which is everyday) I gain more respect for Wado-ryu, and each day I work with Kyokushin I learn something new. Every style has something to teach you. The hardest part is to go from your comfortable style that you fit into, and know how to move in, and go to another style and work with them where they focus on the things you are weak at. This is how I grow and learn, and so should we all.
 

twendkata71

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Shotokan,Wado ryu,Goju ryu,Shito ryu are considered the four main styles of Japanese karate do because of the Japan Karate Federation designated them as such with the World Karate Federation. Also they do have large numbers of schools all over Japan. Within the styles there are the Shito kai, Goju kai and Wado kai organizations which add to their numbers. All of these schools are sports oriented. There are other large organizations in Japan that are not included in the main four. Kyokushin kai is one of them. . The only reason they are not considered in the mainstream karate is because they do not compete in the JKF/WKF structure. Other styles that are gaining prominance in Japan are Gensei ryu,Ryuei ryu,Joshin mon(Shorin ryu).
The largest in Japan and the world, is Shotokan karate do. Second in Japan would be Wado ryu, then Shito ryu and finally Goju ryu. Kyokushin kai does have a huge following, but as I said they are not part of the JKF, which is the largest karate federation, it used to be the JKA, but after many years of political turmoil and organizational splits the numbers have fallen below what the JKF has. The JKF is also an Umbrella organization and the JKA is Shotokan only.
Gensei ryu and Ryuei Ryu are now part of the JKF as well.
When it comes right down to it, it is money and politics. Politics is also why karate will probably never be in the Olympics.
 
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