Jion is said to have some connection
with Jitte and Jiin, but exactly what that connection is, remains
unclear and the object of intense curiosity among karate researchers.
(1) First presented in Funakoshi's 1922 book "Ryukyu Kenpo Karate,"
another version of this kata was also included in Nakasone Genwa's
1938 book "Karatedo Taikan," where it was performed by the
legendary Chomo Hanashiro (1869-1945), a student of Soken Matsumura
and Anko Itosu, who assisted Itosu in his teaching of karate to young
people in the
With lack of reliable written resources about the origins of the kata,
we are left with naught but speculation. One researcher in Japan states
that Jion seems to have descended from a kata utilizing the Tekko,
a kind of Ryukyuan "knuckle duster." (Iwai, 1992)
Tekko were similar to western 'Brass Knuckles." Most often one
was held in each hand. In their traditional form (later models were
often made of molded brass or aluminum) Tekko had a grip (usually
a round piece of wood wound in rope) that was held in the palm of
each fist. A rounded studded metal piece then looped from each end
of the grip to cover the front of the fist (looking like a hand guard
seen on many European swords). They could be quite formidable weapons.
But alas, there is also no reliable evidence that these small, concealed
weapons of Ryukyu Kobudo were ever codified into formal kata before
Shinken Taira (a student Funakoshi and Mabuni in Japan, and Okinawan
weapons, or Kobudo under Moden Yabiki. He later formed the Ryukyu
Kobudo Hozon Shinkoku) came along. Another more plausible possibility
is that Shinken Taira may have been inspired by the Jion kata that
he learned from Funakoshi to create a formal kata for the Tekko (Nakamoto,
Jion seems to have been passed down to Funakoshi from Itosu, but if
it is indeed a kata passed down in the Tomari area, then it is also
possible that Funakoshi picked it up during his time as a school teacher
in that district. Jion is also the second standardized kata for JKF
competitions from the Shotokan lineage.
Jion (translated: "Jion-ji temple" or "Temple Bells")
conceals a strong fighting spirit, although it is not difficult to
perform.(2) It is a representative kata in the Shotokan system because
of the importance of the perfection of the basic stances in its mastery.
Its selection by the WKF as a shitei (compulsory) kata for Shotokan
makes it a very commonly used kata in the opening rounds of competitions.
Jion utilizes a number of stances, notably zenkutsu dachi (front stance)
and kiba dachi (horse stance).