Matt Nilsen sent me the following question:
“Naihanshi, Pinan, Rohai are listed as one Kata whilst Jion, Jiin and Jitte are listed separate, i.e. they have distinctly different themes and values from each other to warrant separate spots. I found this interesting but I have no clue as to why. Part of it seems to be related to deeper/side/intrinsic versus explicit thems other than respect for fatherly figure, respect for mother figure and respect for karate. Is part of this related to a slipped in comment where Jion faces the 108 defilements?”
There are three Naihanshi; shodan, nidan, sandan. Their theme is basically the same. Each kata is just a little different than the others and it represents only a step-wise change in movements from quite easy to more difficult. The theme is still Naihanshi. Naihanshi occupies one slot, #7.
There are five Pinan kata; shodan, nidan, sandan, yodan, godan. There theme is “Peaceful, Peaceful.” Each kata is another way to obtain or maintain peace. Each is a set of physical movements applicable to defense but each has a different view of how to obtain or maintain peace. The theme is still “Peaceful, Peaceful.” Pinan occupies one slot, #6.
Rohai are a set of three kata; shodan, nidan, sandan. Their theme is “Reflections on a Crane.” Each kata is a reflection of the basic community life-style of the bird called a crane. Only one of the kata is needed because the theme is the same in all of the three kata. We practice three, and a variation created by Itosu, because they are excellent practice, not because the themes are different. The theme in all of the kata is still “Reflections on a Crane.” Rohai occupies one slot, #8.
Kosokun (Kushanku or Kanku) is a set of four kata; Dai, Sho, Shiho Sho, Shiho Dai. Each kata needs the others for completion (at least a long time ago in history; perhaps now each stands alone.) The kata deals with universality, a one-ness that permeates all matter and energy. They have the same theme, and the same meaning. They are just different ways of looking at the same thing. In old days, as I stated above, they were interconnected in such a way as to make Kosokun complete as a whole. The theme in all of the four kata is still “universality” or “oneness” or “to view the sky.” Kosokun occupies one slot, #32.
Jion, Jiin and Jitte have a common character, “Ji” which means “respect for.” Respect for one thing may be quite difficult whereas respect for another thing may be much easier. Jion is respect for father. Jiin is respect for mother. Jitte is respect for karate. Each is a respect, that is true, but each stands alone as an important aspect of the object of the respect. Father, mother and karate are very different components in a martial artist’s life. Filial piety (a term which is almost unknown in modern America) is common to the first two; respect for father and respect for mother, but filial piety does not play a part in respect for karate. On careful consideration the you will probably recognize that the three objects of your respect are quite different; hence these three kata have three slots, one for each of them. Jion is #13. Jiin is #14. Jitte is #15. Each is different enough in theme to require their separate slot.