As you study this section on kata, you will immediately notice that there are a relative large number of kata forms. Many of these forms were the creation of the founder of Shorinjiryu, Shinan Kori Hisataka. Other forms were reworked to fit into the philosophy of Shorinjiryu and, in some cases; the forms may not resemble the original.
Itosu Anko created the Heian katas known as Pinan in Okinawa sometime about 1905. The common belief is that he originally developed these forms from the two kata known as Channan and Kusanku. The second form is used extensively by many of the schools of Shorinjiryu and tends to show the most revisions. The Kenryukan uses all the five kata as basic training forms switching the second for the first and visa-a-versa.
The forms known as Naihanchin probably exhibit the most radical changes of any others. Naihanchin is also known as Naifuanchi and Tekki. The Kenryukan uses five variations of the same kata. The exact origin of this form is unknown. Popular belief holds that Itosu created two additional versions. Kori Hisataka reworked the forms and created a number of variations improving upon the original. As time passed the various instructors of Shorinjiryu were taught different versions thus creating the large number of Naihanchin forms used today. Decades ago, an old karate instructor of a different system declared, “Kata wa Naifuanchi ni hajimari, Naifuanchi ni owaru” (Kata begins and ends with Naifuanchi).
Kata Seisan was originally introduced to Tomari by a Chinese martial artist and reworked by Kyan Chotoku, the main instructor of Kori Hisataka.
Kusanku was apparently introduced to Okinawa by a Chinese official named Kusanku sometimes Kushanku and even Koshankin. The kata has undergone many modifications over the years and is used by any number of schools of Karatedo. One version comes from Yara no Kusanku and was again passed down by Kyan Chotoku.
Wankan comes from the Tomari region but is also claimed to have come from Kudaka Island, the homeland of Kori Hisataka (again, his name was changed when he moved to Japan.)
Ananku appears to be the direct creation of Kyan when he traveled to Taiwan with Kuwae and Kudaka (Hisataka.)
Sochin kata has been claimed by any number of systems. One theory is that it originated on the Island of Kudaka but it is likely that it is a version of the Sochin kata of Kyan.
Nijushiho kata while being very short does in fact include a wide variety of techniques and is highly representative of the philosophy and techniques of Shorinjiryu. There is a theory that Azato Ankoh adopted this form from the Hakkyoku-ken (Baji Qu’an) learning in China.
Rohai kata appears to be a very old form that was brought from China to Okinawa sometime before 1870. It is a kata that has been performed in the village of Tomari and, there, a distinct form of that “te” since that time. Sokon “Bushi” Matsumura is known to have performed it, Itosu Ankoh is said to have created a trilogy of Rohai kata and Chotoku Kyan also had knowledge of this form.
Clearly, Rohai is true to its name, Vision of the Crane, as many of the movements are clearly reminiscent of the crane. The crane is a bird that is held in great esteem as a symbol of longevity, good luck, and happiness. The kata is a graceful form with one-legged crane stances; long movements smooth and flowing movements and then short combinations reflecting that of a bird of prey.
Hanshi Myron M. Lubitsch and Shihan Vincent Capers, Jr. have reworked Kata Rohai to make it more compatible with the philosophies of Shorinjiryu today.
Happiken kata that may have a long history that may actually have its origins in Happo-ake. This kata appears to have been inspired by Kusanku aka Kashanku the Chinese emissary to Okinawa who is credited with an incredible amount of history in the development of karate do. Sometime in 1930s, Shinan Kori Hisataka demonstrated Happo-ake in Manchuria. However, his son created the Shorinjiryu Happiken version as a requirement of his father and appears to have roots in the Heian series.
Sankakutobi kata is apparently an invention of Masayuki Hisataka. The question of “the chicken and the egg” presents itself as to which came first, the kata or the kumite. In this case the kata was developed from the kumite which was developed by Shinan Kori Hisataka.
Sochin kata has some resemblances to the Shotokan form. It is possible that this kata was the result of the work of Gima Shinken a long friend of Funakoshi and Kori Hisataka.
Bassai kata appears to be a direct carry over from Kyan but in truth Bassai is a very old kata whose origins are simply put, not know. Bassai is also known as Passai.