I have realised as I’ve written this post that it is quite long winded and references an array of Kata. Whilst I have different books and sources in front of me I may have used spelling and terminology from particular text.
I have recently been reading Mario McKenna’s translation of Mabuni’s Karate Kempo: The Art of Self Defense, having previously bought and digested his translation of the Study of Seipai. An interesting comment sprung out at me when he introduces the chapter on Seiunchin: “There are thirty advanced kata…”
Mabuni is renowned as a collector of Kata and certainly Shito-Ryu has now has more than thirty kata in its approved kata list, albeit there are a number of “derivatives” in there as opposed to unique kata. So which kata did Mabuni consider to be the thirty advanced kata of his karate at this point, 1934?
Interestingly I note from the text that at this point Mabuni considers himself to be a practitioner of, or belong to the school of Goju-Ryu. He refers to Miyagi as his senior at a number of points in the text. However from what I understand Goju-Ryu does not utilise anywhere near thirty kata.
Certainly the list should include Seiunchin as that is the subject of the text, also the book references Seipai, Senseru, Useishi, Suparempei. So that’s five, just twenty five to go.
What is not included, as the text refers to Sanchin as a basic kata I would also rule out Tensho. Today most of us would not consider the Pinan Kata to be advanced kata, they had certainly been in existence for some time by 1934 and would certainly have been known to Mabuni, if they are discounted that leaves five more kata to find.
Also taking the lead of those kata listed I would have thought Seisan should be included along with Kururunfa which is used in both Goju-Ryu and Shito-Ryu. In addition following the numerical forms referenced in the text, Niseishi should be included.
Aside from Higashionna, Mabuni was a student of Itosu. So perhaps the following kata should be included within the list, Bassai (possibly two entries Dai and Sho – although Shito-Ryu also uses Tomari-no-Bassai), Kusanku (again possibly two entries for Sho and Dai) Mabuni developed Kosokun Shiho from this kata – an interesting fact I picked up from a post on this forum.
Mabuni is also credited with taking the Chinese form Nepai and developing Nipaipo. Also although not in the Goju-Ryu or Shito-Ryu lists Mabuni spent time working with a touring Okinawa in the early 20th Century with a number of Karate notables including Funakoshi and Motobu who both practiced Naihanchi so it is fair to say he would have known this kata.
So from this I get to twelve kata, fourteen if you allow Sho and Dai versions of Kusanku and Bassai.
Bassai (Dai and Sho)
Kusanku (Dai and Sho)
There are a number of other classical kata not included in the above but I don’t have a specific link to Mabuni. I would greatly appreciate others input, particularly with reference to linking the kata to Mabuni.