Re-Examining Channan: The “Lost” Kata of Itosu?

When the legendary Winston Churchill once described Russia as “a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma”, some people could swear he was actually talking about a Karate kata named Channan.

…chan-what, now?


Never heard of it before?

Don’t worry, most people haven’t.

See, in Karate, as in many areas of life, there’s still some unresolved mysteries hanging around from old times. Mysteries that have eluded researchers for ages, even eventually spawning all kinds of wacky articles and books from confused “experts”-turned-authors who desperately seek to gain some attention as they believe to have once and for all found the solution to any of these puzzling Karate mysteries out there.

And one of the biggest mysteries in Karate goes by the name of Channan – an allegedly “lost” kata that once supposedly was something of a traditional pillar in old-school Okinawan Karate.

Is that the case?

Is there really a lost, secret, kata by the name of Channan that would open up some kind of Pandora’s box to understanding Karate’s roots?

Dang, I don’t know.

But my colleague Joe Swift, of Tokyo Mushinkan, once wrote a terrific article summing up most of the relevant translated research related to the topic, and it would be a shame to not give you guys the opportunity to read this epic piece of Channan-debunking work.

So, without further ado, let’s see what this “Channan” issue is all about, shall we? Joe-san, the floor is all yours.

Let’s go:

Channan: The “Lost” Kata of Itosu?

Itosu Anko

By Joe Swift


The series of five basic kata called Pinan (later renamed Heian in Japan) are probably the most widely practiced kata in karate today. It is commonly understood that they were developed by Anko (or Yasutsune) Itosu (1832-1915) in around 1907 for inclusion in the karate curriculum of the Okinawan school system. However, the actual history of the Pinan series has been the subject of intense curiosity as of late. There are basically two schools of thought, one that Anko Itosu (1) developed them from the older classical forms that were cultivated in and around the Shuri (capital of Okinawa) area, and the other that Itosu was re-working a longer Chinese form called Channan.

Unfortunately, most of the written references to the Channan/Pinan phenomenon in the English language are basically re-hashes of the same uncorroborated oral testimony. This article will examine the primary literature written by direct students of Itosu, as well as more recent research in the Japanese language, in an effort to solve the “mystery” of Channan.

Anko Itosu

In order to understand the Pinan phenomenon, perhaps it is best to start off with a capsule biography of their architect, Anko Itosu (1832-1915). Many sources state that Itosu was born in the Yamakawa section of Shuri (Bishop, 1999; Okinawa Prefecture, 1994; Okinawa Prefecture, 1995), however, noted Japanese martial arts historian Tsukuo Iwai states that he was actually born in Gibo, Shuri, and later relocated to Yamakawa (Iwai, 1992). He is commonly believed to have studied under Sokon (“Bushi”) Matsumura (1809-1901), but also appears to have had other influences, such as Nagahama of Naha (Iwai, 1992; Motobu, 1932), Kosaku Matsumora of Tomari and a master named Gusukuma (Nihon Karate Kenkyukai, 1956).

There does not seem to be much detail about Itosu’s early life, except for the fact that he was a student of the Ryukyuan civil fighting traditions. At around age 23, he passed the civil service examinations and was employed by the Royal government (Iwai, 1992). It seems as if Itosu gained his position as a clerical scribe for the King through an introduction by his friend and fellow karate master Anko Asato (Funakoshi, 1988). Itosu stayed with the Royal government until the Meiji Restoration, when the Ryukyu Kingdome became Okinawa Prefecture. Itosu stayed on and worked for the Okinawan Prefectural government until 1885 (Iwai, 1992).

There is some controversy as to when Itosu became a student of Matsumura. Some say that he first met Matsumura when Itosu was in his late 20s (Iwai, 1992), whereas others maintain that Itosu was older than 35 when he began studying from Matsumura (Fujiwara, 1990). Matsumura appears to have been friendly with Itosu’s father (Iwai, 1992).

Be that as it may, Itosu is said to have mastered the Naifuanchi kata (Nihon Karate Kenkyukai, 1950; Okinawa Pref., 1995). In fact, one direct student of Itosu, namely Funakoshi Gichin, recalled 10 years of studying nothing but the three Naifuanchi kata under the eminent master (Funakoshi, 1976) (2).

Again, there is some controversy as to where Itosu learned the Naifuanchi kata. Some give credit to Matsumura for teaching this kata to Itosu (Murakami, 1991). However, others say differently, and here is where we first start to see reference to Channan, as the name of a person. It is said that a Chinese sailor who was shipwrecked on Okinawa hid in a cave at Tomari. It was from this man that Itosu supposedly learned the Naifuanchi kata, among other things (Gima, et al, 1986).

In either case, it is known that Itosu was among the first to teach karate (toudi) publicly, karate having previously been taught and practiced in secrecy for hundreds of years. Itosu began his public teaching pf karate as physical education in the school system as early as 1901, where he taught at the Shuri Jinjo Primary School (Iwai, 1992; Okinawa Pref., 1994). He also went on to teach at Shuri Dai-ichi Middle School and the Okinawa Prefectural Men’s Normal School in 1905 (Bishop, 1999; Okinawa Pref., 1994, 1995).

In addition to his “spearheading a crusade” (McCarthy, 1996) to modernize toudi practices and get it taught in the school system, Itosu was also known for his physical strength. It is said that he was able to crush a bamboo stalk in his hands (Funakoshi, 1976, 1988), once wrestled a raging bull to the ground and calmed it (Nagamine, 1986) and one could strike his arms with 2-inch thick poles and he would not budge (Iwai, 1992).

Itosu’s unique contributions to the art of Karate-do include not only his 1908 letter to the Japanese Ministry of Education and Ministry of War (3), expounding on the 10 precepts of Toudi training, but also the creation of several kata. These include not only the Pinan series, but also Naifuanchi Nidan and Sandan (Kinjo, 1991; Murakami, 1991), and possibly Kusanku Sho and Passai Sho (Iwai, 1992). Another kata that has often been attributed to Itosu is the Shiho Kusanku Kata (Kinjo, 1956a; Mabuni et al, 1938), but more recent evidence points to the actual originator of this paradigm to have been Mabuni Kenwa himself (Sells, 1995).

In addition to creating several kata, the other kata that Itosu taught, such as Chinto, Useishi (Gojushiho), Passai Dai, and Kusanku Dai, etc., were changed from their original guises, in order to make them more palatable to his physical education classes (Kinjo, 1991).

Itosu Anko passed away in March 1915, leaving behind a legacy that very few today even recognize or comprehend.

Early Written References to Channan and Pinan

References to Channan can be found as far back as 1934. In the karate research journal entitled Karate no Kenkyu, published by Nakasone Genwa, Motobu Choki is quoted referring to the Channan and the Pinan kata:

“(Sic.) I was interested in the martial arts since I was a child, and studied under many teachers. I studied with Itosu Sensei for 7-8 years. At first, he lived in Urasoe, then moved to Nakashima Oshima in Naha, then on to Shikina, and finally to the villa of Baron Ie. He spent his final years living near the middle school.

I visited him one day at his home near the school, where we sat talking about the martial arts and current affairs. While I was there, 2-3 students also dropped by and sat talking with us. Itosu Sensei turned to the students and said ‘show us a kata.’ The kata that they performed was very similar to the Channan kata that I knew, but there were some differences also. Upon asking the student what the kata was, he replied ‘It is Pinan no Kata.’ The students left shortly after that, upon which I turned to Itosu Sensei and said ‘I learned a kata called Channan, but the kata that those students just performed now was different. What is going on?’ Itosu Sensei replied ‘Yes, the kata is slightly different, but the kata that you just saw is the kata that I have decided upon. The students all told me that the name Pinan is better, so I went along with the opinions of the young people.’ These kata, which were developed by Itosu Sensei, underwent change even during his own lifetime.” (Murakami, 1991; 120)

There is also reference to Pinan being called Channan in its early years in the 1938 publication Kobo Kenpo Karatedo Nyumon by Mabuni Kenwa and Nakasone Genwa. Mabuni and Nakasone write that those people who learned this kata as Channan still taught it under that name (Mabuni, et al, 1938).

Hiroshi Kinjo , one of Japan’s most senior teachers and historians of the Okinawan fighting traditions, and a direct student of three of Itosu’s students, namely Chomo Hanashiro, Chojo Oshiro, and Anbun Tokuda, wrote a series of articles on the Pinan kata in Gekkan Karatedo magazine in the mid-1950s. In the first installment he maintains that the Pinan kata were originally called Channan, and there were some technical differences between Channan and the updated versions known as Pinan (Kinjo, 1956a).

Again according to Hiroshi Kinjo, Hisateru Miyagi, a former student of Itosu who graduated from the Okinawa Prefectural Normal School in 1916, stated that when he was studying under the old master, Itosu only really taught the first three Pinan with any real enthusiasm, and that the last two seem to have been rather neglected at that time (Kinjo, 1956b). Although one can speculate about what this means, it is nevertheless a very interesting piece of testimony by someone who was “there.”

Ryusho Sakagami, in his 1978 Karatedo Kata Taikan as well as Tokumasa Miyagi in his 1987 Karate no Rekishi both give extensive kata lists, and both list a kata known as Yoshimura no Channan (Miyagi, 1987; Sakagami, 1978). It is unknown who Yoshimura was, but he may have been a student of Itosu.

American karate historian Ernest Estrada has also stated that Juhatsu Kyoda (1887-1968), a direct student of Kanryo Higashionna, Xianhui Wu (Jpn. Go Kenki), Kentsu Yabu, etc. and the founder of the To’onryu karatedo system, also knew and taught a series of two basic blocking, punching and kicking exercises known as Channan (Estrada, 1998).

Shiraguma no Kata

According to Tsukuo Iwai, one of Japan’s most noted Budo researchers and teacher of Choki Motobu’s karate in Gunma Prefecture, Motoburyu Karatejutsu, which is being preserved by Choki’s son, Chosei Motobu, in Osaka, contains what is known as Shiraguma no Kata, which he maintains used to be called Channan. He also states that this kata is “somewhat similar to the Pinan, yet different.” (Iwai, 1997).

The Other Side of the Coin

The flip side to this theory states that Itosu did not create the Pinan kata, but actually remodeled older Chinese-based hsing/quan/kata called Channan. This theory states that Itosu learned a series of Chinese Quan-fa hsing from a shipwrecked Chinese at Tomari, and reworked them into five smaller components, re-naming them Pinan because the Chinese pronunciation “Chiang-Nan” was too difficult (Bishop, 1999).

It has been argued that the source for these Channan kata was a Chinese from an area called Annan, or a man named Annan (Bishop, 1999). On the other hand, others say that the man’s name was Channan (Iwai, 1992). Still others go into even more detail, stating that Itosu learned these hsing/kata from a man named Channan, and named them after their source, later adding elements of the Kusanku Dai kata to create the Pinan (Gima, et al, 1986; Kinjo. 1999).

There is also interesting oral testimony passed down in the Tomari-di tradition that is propagated in the Okinawa Gojuryu Tomaridi Karatedo Association of Iken Tokashiki that states that Itosu learned the Channan/Pinan kata from a Chinese at Tomari in one day. The proponents of Tomari-di said that there was no need to learn “over-night kata” and that this is the reason that the Tomari traditions did not include instruction in the Pinan kata (Okinawa Pref., 1995).

This sentiment also echoes the statement by one of Itosu’s top students, Yabu Kentsu, made to his students:

“(sic) If you have time to practice the Pinan, practice Kushanku instead (Gima, et al, 1986, p. 86).”


While more research, such as in-depth technical analysis of Motobu’s Shiraguma no Kata, needs to be done, the evidence at hand seems to point not to a “long lost kata” but rather to the constant and inevitable evolution of a martial art.

Although there is opposition, most of the primary written materials point to the fact that Itosu was indeed the originator of the Channan/Pinan tradition, based upon his own research, experience, and analyses.

However, in either case, Anko Itosu and his efforts left a lasting mark on the fighting traditions of old Okinawa, and will probably always be remembered as one of the visionaries who were able to lift the veil of secrecy that once enshrouded karatedo.

© 2000, by Joe Swift. Posted with permission of the author.


1- Japanese names in this article are listed by given name first and family name second instead of customary Japanese usage which places the family name first.

2- According to noted Japanese martial arts historian Ryozo Fujiwara in his 1990 book entitled “Kakutogi no Rekish” (History of the Martial Arts), Funakoshi first learned Pechurin (Suparinpei) under Taite Kojo, then Kusanku under Anko Asato, and finally Naifuanchi under Itosu.

3- For a comprehensive English translation of this letter, see (McCarthy, 1990)


Bishop, M. (1999) Okinawan Karate: Teachers, Styles and Secret Techniques, 2nd Edition. Boston: Charles E. Tuttle, Co.
Estrada, E. (1998). Personal Communication: Kyoda and Channan.
Fujiwara, R. (1990). Kakutogi no Rekishi (History of Martial Arts). Tokyo: Baseball Magazine.
Funakoshi G. (1976) Karatedo: My Way of Life. Tokyo: Kodansha International.
Funakoshi G. (1988) Karatedo Nyumon. Tokyo: Kodansha International. Tr. by John Teramoto.
Gima S. and Fujiwara R. (1986) Taidan: Kindai Karatedo no Rekishi wo Kataru (Talks on the History of Modern Karatedo). Tokyo: Baseball Magazine.
Iwai T. (1992). Koden Ryukyu Karatejutsu (Old-Style Ryukyu Karatejutsu). Tokyo: Airyudo.
Iwai T. (1997) Personal Communication: Shiraguma no Kata.
Kinjo A. (1999) Karate-den Shinroku (True Record of Karate’s Transmission). Naha: Okinawa Tosho Center.
Kinjo H. (1956a). “Pinan no Kenkyu (Study of Pinan) Part 1.” Gekkan Karatedo June 1956. Tokyo: Karate Jiho-sha.
Kinjo H. (1956b). “Pinan no Kenkyu (Study of Pinan) Part 2.” Gekkan Karatedo August 1956. Tokyo: Karate Jiho-sha.
Kinjo H. (1991) Yomigaeru Dento Karate 1 Kihon (Return to Traditional Karate Vol. 1, Basic Techniques) – video presentation. Tokyo: Quest, Ltd.
Mabuni K. and Nakasone G. (1938) Karatedo Nyumon (Introduction to Karatedo). Tokyo: Kobukan.
McCarthy, P. (1996) “Capsule History of Koryu Karate.” Koryu Journal Inaugural Issue. Australia, International Ryukyu Karate Research Society.
McCarthy, P. (1999) Ancient Okinawan Martial Arts: Koryu Uchinadi, Vol. 2. Boston: Charles E. Tuttle, Co.
Miyagi T. (1987) Karate no Rekishi (The History of Karate). Naha: Hirugisha.
Motobu C. (1932) Watashi no Toudijutsu (My Karate). Tokyo: Toudi Fukyukai.
Murakami K. (1991). Karate no Kokoro to Waza (The Spirit and Technique of Karate). Tokyo: Shin Jinbutsu Oraisha.
Nagamine S. (1986) Okinawa no Karate Sumo Meijin Den (Tales of Okinawa’s Great Karate and Sumo Masters). Tokyo: Shin Jinbutsu Oraisha.
Nihon Karate Kenkyukai (1956) Zoku: Karatedo Nyumon (Introduction to Karatedo: Continued). Tokyo: Wakaba Shobo.
Okinawa Prefecture Board of Education (1994). Karatedo Kobudo Kihon Chosa Hokokusho (Report of Basic Research on Karatedo and Kobudo). Naha: Nansei.
Okinawa Prefecture Board of Education (1995). Karatedo Kobudo Kihon Chosa Hokokusho II (Report of Basic Research on Karatedo and Kobudo Part II). Naha: Nanasei.
Sakagami R. (1978) Karatedo Kata Taikan (Encyclopedia of Karatedo Kata. Tokyo: Nichibosha.
Sells, J. (1995) Unante: Secrets of Karate. Hollywood: Hawley.



So what do you guys say?

To Channan or not to Channan?

Needless to say; DVDs, books and seminars have already been created around resurrecting this “lost” kata… Whatever the case though, it will probably forever remain an exciting topic of study for any Karate Nerd™ hobbyist with too much time on his/her hands.

Believe me, I know...!


  • Rae Leggett
    Anyone interested in learning more about the Channon kata should read Elmar Schmeisser's excellant book, Channan: Heart of the Heians. It's a good read (for karate nerds). That said, having read the book, I never bothered to teach myself the kata. There doesn't seem to be anything in them that isn't already in the Kanku or Heian, and I'm becoming viciously practical in my karate training lately.
    • Rui Paulo Sanguinheira Diogo
      Well, on Schmeisser's book: How did he come to this "lost" kata if it was lost? His Channan kata looks like a poor Shotokan Heian with some pseudo-chinese arm flailing (and already including changes that where made in the 1940s+ by Shotokan practioners – most probably by JKA members)... It seems all quite unfounded that I believed that he made quite some stuff up to sell another book. Also, and I'm really sorry to write this, but until now I haven't found anything excellent in any of his books. I actually think that they are quite bad ("Advanced Karate" for example)...
      • Elmar
        If you would bother to read the appendices at the back, I state very clearly how I came by the form I demonstrated, and why I published it. I do not claim that it is "in fact" what might have been Itosu's Channan; obviously I haven't any hard data to back up any such claim. Accusing me of "making it up" is perilously close to libel. And of your other opinions on my books, you are welcome to them, but enough others find some value in them that I am not too perturbed.
        • Don Daly
          Dr. Schmeisser, I wanted to say that I have read several excellent books written by Japanese stylists, and find that your book is refreshingly unbiased compared to the others. So many of these otherwise excellent authors express blatantly biased opinions that were definitely self-serving when discussing other martial arts or other branches of Okinawan martial arts. Your sharing of this knowledge of a Chinese version of the source forms that Matsumura and Itosu developed into the Okinawan Channan forms (later called Pinans and Heians) has been great service to all Karate Nerds not limited to one style, and genuinely interested in the true history of karate. Also although I may see things a little differently (as a Tang Soo Do and Kenpo stylist) when it comes to bunkai, I found your rules for bunkai very well thought out and very imformative. Thank you.
      • Rui Paulo Sanguinheira Diogo
        Seems that I somehow missed your answer... Anyhow, first I think I really have to apologize for attributing the creation of theses forms to you. I was wrong, but to my defense I must say that I haven't been the only one. At least I haven't accused you of being dishonest... Of course these forms (or great amounts of the combinations you were demonstrating) were created by Remy Amador Presas in the mid-1970s for teaching Americans his melange of Shotokan-Karate and Arnis known as "Modern Arnis", because back then he was supposed to have forms to be a legit martial arts teacher. I had to consult some people to come to this conclusion. So this explains why these forms contain movements of the Heians and why there are movements that were introduced to the Heians after 1935 and 1949. It also explains why the movements are shotokanish and don't resemble other (rather untouched) Pinan derivatives, or why there are shown two different kinds of movements - the direct linear Shotokan moves and the movements derived from Arnis. So, no, these forms are not chinese in origin, they are not called Channan (though you do as you stated in your book), they are no predecessors of the Heian/Pinan kata and they definitely have not been "lost". In your book you don't claim anything specific, always avoiding to write anything concrete, even negating what you wrote priorly and leaving it to the reader what to think about it (the latter is a good thing). All in all I think your book is misleading. Starting with the title! From what I've read in the past others have been less reserved in expressing their opinions... I also don't feel much threatened by you this being "close to libel": I can back up what I wrote with proof and some portions were made up by you as you actually recognize in you book by yourself. As for books being valuable to others: Well, there are people who think Ashida Kim's ninja books are valuable, too. Questioning is a "big no-no". I just expressed my opinion about them and don't care how others evaluate them. Others don't like what I do - live with it! So long!
  • Rui Paulo Sanguinheira Diogo
    From my part and research I have to agree with Joe Swift that the Channan were just a evolutionary step to the Pinan kata – there are many, many good reasons to believe this. I've got no doubt about it, but it would exceed an internet comment by far to explain it. I also doubt the stories on this topic found for example in Matsumura Seito which say that those two Channan kata were older and came directly from Matsumura/ Chiang-Nan, because the kata are quite the same as the first two Pinan and those kata could have come via various ways to Matsumura Seito – as Joe Swift also indicates, when he points out that Kenwa Mabuni wrote that those kata (in his time) still taught the Pinan kata under the name of Channan. This probably also means that there were more than two Channan at Mabunis time. As for mysterious people named Chiang-Nan (meaning "south of the river", the Yangtze being the river) spreading chinese martial arts: It's a well-spread legend that one (to three) monk(s) from the also quite mysterious southern Shaolin temple survived the destruction in the 18th century and travelled to places far away (Vietnam, Thailand, etc.) teaching southern Shaolin kung fu (and being a great influence for example in Muay Boran). There is no evidence for the existence of such a person (actually not even for the southern Shaolin monastery), rendering it most probably to just another legend and myth that people love so much!
  • Diego Romero
    i would be interested in seeing motobu-ryu's shiraguma no kata someday. as far as channan itself goes, i would be quite pleased if the actual kata or a legitimage off-shoot were to be rediscovered somehow, but sadly i also feel it might lead a lot of people to just jump on it as a fad like is usually done with anything that is considered "more traditional" or better just because it's "older".
  • RH Gutierrez
    great article again, I like how you added references. I keep hearing people talk about the Channan and when I looked for it I find a fusion of the heian kata as done in Shotokan, not how the Pinan are done. When I was in Okinawa, I never found anyone who did this Channan but there are many dojo in the US that do. It is funny that of all the students that Itosu Sensei had who started their own styles, not a single one has the Channan. If this was an older kata which was important enough to become part of most branches how is it that from 1907 to 1945 with all the preservation societies not one felt it was important enough to preserve? It seems odd that while in the west, we are looking for a lost Channan for the inspiration for the Pinan, it seems the older generations tell us it was the original Kusanku
    • Rui Paulo Sanguinheira Diogo
      Well, there were people teaching Channan. As Swift noted Mabuni wrote about it. He wrote that the Pinan were called Channan but Itosu renamed it to Pinan (there are some sources that he asked his students how to name the kata) – though there were still people in his time calling it Channan. Choki Motobu is quoted similarly. So that's the whole mystery behind it: The Pinan were called Channan but Itosu changed the name. It's like Twix (the chocolate-biscuit bar) that was called Raider in most european countries before 1991. The name changed but the content stayed the same. On the Kushanku: I'm not too sure if we can see it that way. The kata differ more than look similar. Put it that way: Itosu created the Pinan from his style of fighting – which included certainly techniques or principles from Kushanku and other kata. That's way more plausible than anything else.
      • RH Gutierrez
        thank you Rui Paulo I agree with you that the Channan were most likely an old name for Pinan. What I was referring to was the longer "Lost" Channan that some claim as the original form which the pinan were from.
  • Almost all the hype about Channan comes from the Choki Motobu quote in the article. Personally I think that the most probable explonation looking at the quotes and referenses in the article is that Itosu made a Kata or series of Kata to reccord his favorite fighting strategies. I think he named it Channan. Over time as his experiences grew the Kata evolved and changed, and over time he even changed the name. Maybe because of the pronounciation was difficult, or maybe because the students of Itosu convinced him that it was a better name for the Kata. Either way I believe that Channan and Pinan is the same Kata in a different evolutionary step. I did an experiment a few years back where I created my own Kata as a mnemonic for my favorite self defense strategies. Over time the Kata evolved to the point where it changed so much that you barely recognised the original Kata. It is a natural tendency and I think that the Channan/Pinan went through a simular process.
  • Rae Leggett
    Maybe Channan, Pinan/Heian and Kanku/Kusanku are all kata from the same original "style" but passed down through different lineages? They share a root, but the braches are different.
    • Rui Paulo Sanguinheira Diogo
      Back in those times when the Pinan kata were created and before kata *were* the styles. Each kata was a fighting style on its own. People learned those kata while practicing also the old-style kumite (the application of the techniques and princples taught by that kata) at the same time. Well, if we believe Motobu – but there's no reason why we shouldn't! Channan and Pinan seem to be two names of the same kata at different evolutionary steps. Kusanku was an older kata (or fighting style). The Pinan and Kusanku share just a small part of movements (or techniques) while the greater part of the Pinan are very different. Sometimes it resembles Useishi/ Gojushiho, sometimes Passai or Jion. Sometimes there don't seem to be any similarities to other kata at all. So if we take kata as methodic and mnemonic media for preserving a fighting style then the most plausible explanation would be that the Pinan were created by Itosu to preserve his personal fighting style. This also explains why it took over 15 years from the beginnings which Motobu learned to the first public introduction in 1904/1905. Saying that the Pinan were created from Kusanku or are just different lineages from the same "style" falls definitely a little bit short.
  • Kevin
    In an issue of Classical Fighting Arts, Sensei Nakata (student of Master Chibana--student of Itosu) stated that Itosu used the Naihanchi kata as their kihon kata and that the next kata, kusanku, was too long. Itosu then created Pinan to bridge the gap. Later he added the other Pinans and named the first Pinan Shodan etc. They were pulled from other katas and his earlier trainig in "te". There was no mention of any kata called "Channan" as a source. My guess is that it was a working title of Pinan while trying to create it. I just buy into the fact that such an instrumental kata could be "lost" by everyone unless the whole style vanished due to no more students or linage. Discarded or renamed certainly.
  • Johan Lundqvist
    I think he simplified the Kata Channan/Pinang to fit the young people at school. If you teach a big group and the Kata contains a difficult turn (Seipai example)its very hard to follow. If you on the other hand teach Taikiyuku Jodan or chudan (for lower grades nowdays)you can teach a big group easier. When I teach the easier Jodan, Chudan, Gedan etc I can add techniques during the same class if they can do it ok. I can call them Jodan Ich or Chudan Ni just by adding a kick or block. The children likes it and they get a good workout without getting the same (same but not same) If Itosu Sensei did it simpler he could probably make them work harder and get them in shape quicker. This was just examples to explain why I think so. The name could have been changed with the modefieing or not. Just my ideas of course.
    • Rui Paulo Sanguinheira Diogo
      Well, it seems that he started the development some years before the first karate club at a school in Okinawa was established – and over a decade before the prefecture administration officially introduced it. It also seems that Itosu wanted not only to introduce karate in the middle and high schools, but also in the police and military forces. Compared to other kata the Pinan are not that much easier – they are just split up. The Pinan kata are actually an essence of Kushanku, Naihanchi, perhaps Useishi and some other "techniques". My guess for the creation of the Pinan is that he wanted to make *his* personal karate style popular and easy to learn. I think that's the whole mystery behind it! Believing the Pinan were just some kind of "workout for kids" is most certainly thought way too short (I don't even know where this thinking even comes from! There are easier forms in other martial arts which contain all the movements of those styles and no one thinks about it like that...). You certainly don't need more than 15 years to create a workout method! You should also consider the fact that back then you reached adulthood at the age of 15 – and Itosu only taught pupils at the age of 15 and older. So from his point of view he was teaching young adults, as it would be when teaching soldiers, and not children.
      • Johan Lundqvist
        Here are some more info about Pinan Of course it doesnt solve the problem (or no problem) but its interesting to some maybe. /Johan

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