During class last night I was introduced to the next kata I need to learn - Jiin, which means 'Temple ground'.
Jiin is part of a trio of katas that can be traced back to the Tomari-te style, possibly from Matsumura. However, it was then perpetuated through the Shuri-te system by Itosu. Funakoshi brought it to Japan and tried to change its name to Shokyo but it remained more commonly known as Jiin. The other two in the series are Jitte and Jion but these are not included in our syllabus. Shorin karate styles generally practice these kata and versions of them are done predominantly in Shotokan, Wadoryu and Shito-ryu. The version of Jiin that I am learning is the Shito-ryu one.
The main techniques that characterise this trio of kata are the starting kamae in which the left hand is placed around the right fist at the level of the throat. I couldn't find out the significance of this move other than it has its roots in the ancient art of Chinese kempo.
Jiin is also characterised by the repeated use of manji uke. This is a double block in which one arm performs an uchi uke whilst the other simultaneously performs a gedan barai. This block is also known as the lamda block because of its resemblance to the shape of the Greek letter λ. Manji uke has also been associated with the Buddhist swastika symbol which was seen as a symbol of plurality, eternity, abundance, prosperity and long life. This double block is quite difficult for the inexperienced karateka to grasp (well me anyway) and is first met in the kata Pinan Sandan as well as Jurokono.
Jiin can be pretty heavy on the legs as well! There is a lot of use of the shiko dachi stance accompanied by quick changes of direction so it is a good kata for building leg strength as well as balance and coordination.
Though Jiin is still a widely practised kata it has been dropped from the Japan Karate Association teaching and grading syllabus. It is also one of only two kata to not be included in the‘Best Karate’ series by M. Nakayama, the series widely recognised as the definitive kata reference. It was also omitted from Shojiro Sugiyama's book Shoto-kan kata (Shotokan's standard reference book). The reason for these omissions is not known.
Here is a video of the Shito-ryu version of Jiin:
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