Pete Mills School of Isshin-Ryu Karate

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 Traditional Isshin-Ryu Empty Hand Katas 
(Click on the kata name for a video of Master Shimabuku running the kata)

  1. Seisan – a beginning kata of unknown origin, the Shorin-Ryu Seisan kata teaches excellent basic stances.  Master Shimabuku was one of those few masters who continued to teach Seisan as a beginning form.  Most others taught this kata to black belts only.
  2. Seiuchin – It is slightly more advanced than Seisan, and was developed by Master Chojun Miyagi.  The name means “calmness in the eye of the storm.”  It contains no kicks and serves as a prime example of Goju-Ryu.  The Seiuchin stance is also referred to as the “horse stance.”
  3. Naihanchi – The major contribution of this Shorin-Ryu kata lies in the training and building up of the lower body (waist and legs).  The Naihanchi stance is also known as the “iron-horse stance” because the feet are planted to the ground, making this one of the most important katas in Isshin-Ryu.
  4. Wansu – According to legend, this kata was brought to Okinawa in 1683 by Wansu, a Chinese envoy, and later refined by Okinawan karate masters.  This Shorin-Ryu kata is known for its hidden punch, but in Isshin-Ryu it is sometimes known as the “dumping form” because of the throw it contains.
  5. Chinto – Although the history of this kata is vague, legend maintains that it was brought to Okinawa by Chinto, a shipwrecked Chinese sailor.  It provides training against opponents on a narrow path, and comes from Shorin-Ryu having been a favorite of Master Kyan Chotoku.
  6. Kusanku – A Chinese karate master, Kusanku, brought this kata to Okinawa in 1761.  It trains one to fight at night and also comes from Shorin-Ryu.
  7. Sunsu – This kata was created by Master Shimabuku, and is names after him.  Sunsu (meaning strong man) was his nickname.  The kata provides some of the most advanced training received from any kata, and incorporates what Master Shimabuku considered some of the best combative moves know.
  8. Sanchin – Although this kata was taken from Goju-Ryu, its principle is the basis of all martial arts.  It is a meditative exercise designed to train one in muscle and breathe control and thereby enhance the mind-body relationship.  Undoubtedly, it is the most difficult kata to master requiring many years of diligent practice.

 Non-Traditional Empty Hand Katas: 

  1. Ichibon – This is a kata that was developed at the Pete Mills School.  It puts Charts I and II in to a kata form.  This is taught to students after they have a thorough understanding of the Charts.  It is used when a student does not have enough time to run the Charts separately.
  2. Kumite Rock – This is also a kata that was developed at the Pete Mills School.  It provides the student with functional sparring techniques. 

 Traditional Isshin-Ryu Weapon Katas
(Click on the kata name for a video of Master Shimabuku running the kata)

  1. Kusanku Sai
  2. Chatan Yara No Sai
  3. Tokomine No Kon
  4. Urasai No Kon Bo
  5. Shi Shi No Kon No Dai
  6. Bo-Bo Kumite
  7. Bo-Sai Kumite
  8. Kyan no Sai

 Non-Traditional Isshin-Ryu Weapon Katas

  1. Nunchuck
  2. Kama
  3. Sword

In summation, katas are designed to provide combative training and to aid the student in the development of a harmonious mind-body relationship (mind and body acting as “one”).  In studying katas, the student should progress through three stages:

  1. Learn the moves of each kata with interpretations of each move
  2. Determine the proper breathing in each kata
  3. Include “sanchin” in the performance of each

Progression through the three stages requires many hours of training.  The hours of repetitious movement should eventually enhance combative skill and become moving mediation rather than mere exercise.



Isshin-Ryu stances depend on many factors.  Such as:

  1. Your opponent’s position
  2. Your physical characteristics
  3. Your strategy


The Do’s and Don’ts of Isshin-Ryu Stances

  1. Never lock your knees
  2. If your feet are close together you will have a weak stance
  3. The knees should remain slightly bent at all times
  4. The upper body should remain erect at all times
  5. Don’t bob or weave your head as you step
  6. Keep the heels down (except in the T stance)
  7. Grip the floor with your toes (this is for balance)
  8. Be aware of your center of gravity


Seisan Stance


  1. High center of gravity
  2. Comfortable and mobile
  3. Defensive, easy to move in any direction quickly
  4. Strong offensive stance, you have both hands and both feet available
  5. Weight is evenly distributed (50 – 50)



  1. Your vital points to the front are exposed
  2. Sacrifices power
  3. Sacrifices stability


Seiuchin Stance


  1. Strong defensive stance from either side
  2. Good for developing legs, mainly the thighs
  3. Strong Stability
  4. Strong fighting stance
  5. Easy to launch offensive attack such as kicks or strikes


  1. Lack of mobility
  2. Telegraphs attacks because of low center of gravity (about 4” to 6” low)
  3. Lack of maneuverability
  4. You can only use two of your four major weapons without a major body shift


Naihanchin Stance 


  1. Strong from the side
  2. Good defensive and offensive stance for fighting someone directly at your side
  3. Maneuverability for close-in combat
  4. Counter from sweeps
  5. High center of gravity, well balanced stance
  6. Mobile stable stance from the side


  1. Weak from the front and rear (stability)
  2. Movement is limited to sideways only
  3. Front of the body is open


T Stance 


  1. A defensive stance, especially for fast foot counters
  2. Easy to step at an angle against your opponent
  3. Use the front leg to block kicks, and give a kick back


  1. Balance can easily be upset, especially against a larger, stronger opponent
  2. Lack of mobility


Crane Stance 


  1. To cover distances quickly
  2. Easy to sidestep your opponent
  3. Kicks are hard to see, using the back foot


  1. Never used in fighting because of lack of mobility
  2. Feet are turned in