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Hombu dojo of 
Shorin-Ryu Karate
    U. S. A.

Kyoshi Michael Mackay
Shihan  email Sensei Mackay

109 East 50th St.
New York, NY 10022

Shotei-uke (palm heel block) from kata Rohai

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Calligraphy - "Gan" - The eye triggers movement

Kata Guide

Proficiency in Shorin-Ryu is measured by one's mastery of progressively difficult kata (forms).  

To the observer, a kata resembles a series of defensive and offensive fighting moves designed to neutralize multiple opponents.  To a student practicing kata, however, these exercises represent an invitation to challenge oneself: a trail map towards growth as an individual while exploring the rich culture of ancient martial arts.  Kata embodies all the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual concepts of the karate masters.  Through multiple repetitions of kata, the student comes to recognize - then overcome - his or her limitations.  It is both empowering and humbling.

 On demonstrating kata Follow link

 Test requirements Follow link

The following 19 kata, some more than 400 years old, have evolved over many generations of Shorin-Ryu masters to provide a balanced curriculum for anyone interested in learning karate.  One need only begin.



Kata name

Origins Characteristics

Level introduced

Oi-zuki (chasing punch) from kata Fukugata san


Fukyugata ichi

Shoshin Nagamine
Tomari, 1940
Basic movements. Developing a foundation. Shiro obi (white belt)
Beginning student learns customary respect and behavior. No testing but must display a willingness to learn.
Fukyugata ni Chosin Chibana
Shuri, 1940
Balance; kicking and elbow techniques Ro-kyu (one green tip)
Starts to acquire a strong foundation in basic techniques and shows improvement in health.
Fukyugata san Ansei Ueshiro
Kin, 1960
Emphasis on speed, combinations and strong, low stances. "Moving forward" philosophy. Go-kyu (two green tips)
Many techniques become reflexive.  Student displays self-discipline and improved endurance.

Gedan shudo-uke (lower knife-hand block) from kata Pinan nidan


Pinan shodan Anko Itosu
Shuri, 1907
Peaceful. Developing flowing movements. Cat stance, open-handed blocks, deflection strategy. Originally composed for Okinawan high school students. Yon-kyu (green belt)
Student shows much spirit and effort through a sincere desire to learn.  This level is considered the "backbone" of the dojo.
Pinan nidan

Pinan sandan

San-kyu (brown tips)
Student is fully aware and appreciative of traditional karate techniques as they become internalized. Is adept at bunkai (kata application).
Pinan yondan
Pinan godan

Morote-zuki (augmented side punch) from kata Nihanchi sho


Naihanchi sho Bushi Matsumura
Ryukyu, early 1800's
Horse riding stance. Strength-building kata to withstand blows. Fighting with back to the wall. Ni-kyu (brown belt)
Student displays strength, stamina, balance and coordination in basics and kata. Begins to learn and apply teaching skills.
Naihanchi ni Ik-kyu (black tips)
Displays much confidence in handling himself and others. Learns patience and perseverance. Shows the most spirit.

Naihanchi san

Weapons Many diverse composers The advanced student picks one weapon kata and develops it over many years as an adjunct to the empty-handed kata. 

Jodan kosa uke (upper cross block) from kata Wankan

Black Belt


Bushi Matsumura 
Ryukyu, early 1800's
Chinese roots. A "basic" advanced kata. Translated "Ten Gods."  Ik-kyu (black tips)
Wankan Tomari King's crown. Powerful, elegant sequences. Incorporates advanced shifting of rear hip and foot.
Rohai Tomari Silent, powerful, explosive movements, as those of a crane.  One-legged stance. Sho-dan (black belt)
Becomes an accomplished karate student appreciative of all aspects of karate. Eager to share his/her knowledge with others.
Wanshu Wanshu
China, late 1600's
Chinese roots. Hidden fist. Ni-dan (2nd deg. black belt)
Assumes greater responsibility for mentoring students and assisting in running the dojo. Begins to demonstrate  proficiency in weapons kata. 


Chotoku Kyan
Shuri, early 1900's
Breaking through or away as when ambushed. Full commitment. Power generated by quickness in movements. Knife hand techniques. 
Chinto Chinto
early 1800's
Serious fight to the death for spiritual recognition. No spectators. Performed in a straight line; flying kick. San-dan (3rd deg. black belt)
Earns the title "Sensei" (teacher). Has cultivated a substantial following of students at all ranks.  Formulates plans to open a school or club.
Gojushiho Anonymous Amended royal Okinawan folk dance.  54 steps. Many subtle, diversified movements; spear hand thrusts. Yon-dan (4th deg. black belt)
Continues to probe the subtleties of the black belt kata, incorporating their strength and beauty. Renews his/her willingness to learn. Sets out to propagate the art of Shorin-ryu.
Kusanku Kusanku
China, mid 1700's
Chinese roots. Most advanced kata. Reserved only for serious black belts who have trained 20 or more years. Go-dan (5th deg. black belt)
Continues to strive to perfect karate skills both old and new. Embraces the spiritual aspects of karate-do and endeavors to foster its many benefits in the community at large.


The Shorin-Ryu Okinawan Karate Question and Answer Book, by Robert Scaglione and William Cummins. New York, Person-to-Person Publishing, 1984.

Karate of Okinawa: Building Warrior Spirit with Gan, Soku, Tanden, Riki, by Robert Scaglione and William Cummins. New York, Person-to-Person Publishing, 1989.

Black belt Kata Guidelines - Revised 2009.