September 4, 2022

Shotokan Vs Shorin Ryu: Which One’s Superior?

Bummer! You did not see that coming despite all your research!

Your eyes skim through the words completely alien to you without the mind registering. Karate styles like Shotokan, Goju-ryu, Uechi-ryu, Wado-ryu and so many more are listed on the piece of paper. While the receptionist impatiently waits for your response, your tongue is tied.

Here’s why:

  • You have no clue which karate style entails what and which one is best suited for your needs
  • You have no idea how to pronounce those hefty words

How will you ever choose let alone speak? The first thought that pops up is to back pedal your way home. Don’t worry! This article will not let you give up your dreams so easy.

If you are an amateur or someone who is struggling to choose, read on for an in-depth analysis of the comparison between two of the most famous karate styles: Shotokan and Shorin-ryu.

 men practicing karate kicks


Shorin-ryu is one of the purest and oldest forms of karate that exists today, originating from Okinawan. Its practices date back to the old times with its fluid movements and high stances. To put it simply, this one requires a rigorous determination.

Shotokan, on the other hand, is multifaceted due to its ultimate journey to Japan which filtered its form. It is one of the most well-known karate styles out there. If your school has a karate curriculum, there are high chances Shotokan led to this revolution!

Considering all aspects, Shorin-ryu wins the match between the two!

Want to know the reason why? Go and do some reading below!

Techniques & TrainingDifferences


Shorin-ryu incorporates narrow and high stances. Simply put, Shorin-ryu believes in fluid movements that are uninterrupted and regular. A Shorin-ryu fighter will wreak havoc on its opponent with effortless and flexible movements. And boom! The other guy goes down.

Shotokan, on the other hand, employs deeper and wider stances that are delivered powerfully and quickly.


Apart from the stances, the katas differ too.

A Shorin-ryu practitioner is shaped to develop a firm, upright posture. He/she will deliver precise kicks and close-handed punches that are angled.

When we talk about a Shotokan fighter, he/she is equipped to use both the upper and lower body while striking – the punches and kicks are direct and linear.


There is also a stark difference in the way both these fighters are wired to fight. A Shorin-ryu fighter is molded to see and understand the ‘why’ of a practice. He/she delves deeper into the concept of every move and then takes a step forward. He/she will ask themselves:

“What purpose does this move hold?”

So, beware of Shorin-ryu fighters if your knowledge is lacking. They are know-it-alls – you do not want to embarrass yourself!

Switching to Shotokan, its fighter is not concerned with ‘why’ but ‘how’. Here’s why:

Shotokan has chunks of both Okinawan and Japanese techniques, making its package of martial knowledge more vast. Think about it:

You can’t just cram in all that knowledge into a fighter, can you?

Therefore, Shotokan lets the ‘why’ slide.


One other basic technique-based difference comes from the unique combat approaches both have. Shorin-ryu works in close distance while Shotokan prefers long distance.

This accounts for why Tuidi Technique – a move of clutching, capturing, screwing and dislocating the opponent’s joints in close proximity – is no more a Shotokan practice. However, Shorin-ryu still very much practices it!

boy in karate class punching and breaking wood

Class size

Best of all, both the styles are greatly distinct in something as basic as the number of students a single class can hold!

By now you might have gotten a grasp of the fact that Shorin-ryu is all about detail and studying things up close. No wonder it requires individual attention and a Shorin-ryu classroom has no more than 10 to 15 students.

Here’s the interesting part! As soon as Shotokan found its way in Japan, it was tailored to incorporate huge groups at universities, ultimately having 50 or more students in a class.

What does that eventually entail for the master who teaches Shorin-ryu? He/she will have to find other ways of making a living!

Techniques Similarities

Though they might sound like completely different karate styles and all the differences mentioned above might have solidified this concept even more, but that is not entirely true.

Originating from Okinawa, both the karate styles have the same foundation. Consider them brother and sister – came from the same parents but strayed off on their way!

Both of them start off with similar basic kata: Fyukyu katas, Pinan and Naihanchi.  Both of them vigorously train their fighters to strengthen their minds and souls for powerful combat.

Which one is More Effective?

That is a hundred-dollar question! In terms of effectiveness, Shorin-ryu wins the match. Curious as to why I said that? Here’s why:


Shorin-ryu lays a greater emphasis on physical conditioning, making the style more effective. ‘Combating’ is what drives its practices – your body will be forced to toughen up. With old-school tools like Makiwara and Chi-ishi, its fighters strengthen their physique.


Adding to that, Shorin-ryu’s ‘high-stance’ rule makes it a more natural practice than the deeper stances of Shotokan. Such fluid movements make Shorin-ryu a more practical approach.

Which one is Better for Self-defense?

Shotokan takes the lead here with its technique of ‘kime’ – the blocking of a technique to stop action from the opponent. When you block your opponent’s move, you ultimately defend yourself from the strike.

But wait, let me tell you something! In karate, when it comes between going on offense (Chinkuchi) or defense (kime), offense always takes the lead especially where a street fight is concerned because you can only come out alive in a street fight if you can take down the enemy. In which case, Shorin-ryu is all about surging the energy from the move into the opponent.

Cost Comparison

The average monthly cost of Shotokan training may range from $65 to $95 while $45 to $75 for that of Shorin-ryu.

The approximate total cost of Shotokan training ranges from $195 to $475 while $175 to $375 for that of Shorin-ryu.

Which one should I learn?

Overall, Shorin-ryu molds you into a fierce fighter. With its ‘putting down the enemy’ technique rather than just blocking his/her move, will make you a true fighter. Its natural stances and pure Okinawan legacy will help you achieve powerful combat.


You need to make the final decision for yourself, depending on the kind of training you can handle. Shorin-ryu offers a more ancient and true karate model with the inclusion of weapons and harsh conditioning.

On the other hand, Shotokan is diverse with its filtered form from the Japanese influence it has held onto. Shotokan teaches a more contemporary karate approach.

In the end, it’s all about what suits YOU!

More Comparisions

Eugene Hardy

Eugene is a professional Muay Thai fighter, with several years of experience. Also, a black belt holder. He actively participates in tournaments and provides training to his students. Eugene started this blog to share his experiences with Martial Arts.

View all posts by Eugene Hardy →

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