Rohai is believed to have been authored by Kosaku Matsumora and originally referred to as Matsumora Rohai Kata. Itosu (Ankoh) Yasutsune (1830-1915), one of the legendary Okinawan Shorin-Ryu masters, later created three versions of Rohai from the original kata to make it easier for students to learn. He named these simply Rohai Shodan, Rohai Nidan and Rohai Sandan.
Itosu was known for simplifying complex kata and did the same to the long and complex Kusanku Kata (also known as Kanku). We teach a Kusanku Dai and Kusanku Sho kata. Kusanku-Dai kata has more than 100 steps. To simplify Kusanku, Itosu broke it down into five katas that became known as the Pinan katas. Instead of retaining all three Rohai, it was decided by Soke Hausel to include two Rohai kata. Thus one day, most of us will learn Rohai as well as another kata known as Meikyo.
Some of you are aware that Itosu and Gichin Funakoshi were two Okinawan masters who introduced karate to the world during the early part of the 20th century. While Itosu remained in Okinawa to teach the art, Funakoshi moved to mainland Japan. Funakoshi had a difficult time introducing karate to the Japanese people simply because he was Okinawan. Okinawans were basically considered Hillbillies to the Japanese – they spoke a different language and did things differently.
|Jumping elbow strike - a characteristic waza in|
Since Buddhism and Shinto are important in the Japanese culture, Funakoshi used such references to help promote karate – and with the help of Jigoro Kano, it worked. Most people outside of Okinawa believe karate was of Japanese origin, but it was introduced to the Japanese people just as it was introduced to America at a later date.
|Double back fist strike from Meikyo kata.|