There has always been much speculation about the histories of the kata that we practice in Shotokan - unfortunately none of the great masters ever wrote a journal or stated who created what, and when, or indeed why. There is much conflicting information on the internet regarding katas and all things to do with martial arts, so we must be careful to state that what is printed here is one version of a possible truth - as in many cases, no one can accurately state the exact truth.
A quote from Rob Redmond's book on Shotokan kata reads as follows, and I'm sure we all agree with his sentiments...
"Kata have a feeling of antiquity about them, and that is one of the attractors that draw people to learn the art of karate. The idea that you are performing a routine that has been handed down from teacher to student for 50 years, and in some cases as long as 400 years, is fascinating and humbling. These exercises bring more to the performer than simple sweat and exhaustion. The kata endow the performer with a sense of timelessness."
The sources of some of the information shown here are listed at the bottom of the page.
Please note, with reference to the video clips:
All of the video are performed by Sensei Paul Walker with the exception of Taikyoku Shodan (which does not feature in the SKIF curriculum), Seienchin and Seipai. Paul has been practicing karate since January 1982 and spent three years of his training, from 1996 to 1999, studying in Japan at the Headquarters Dojo of Master Hirokazu Kanazawa. He has been a member of the Shotokan Karate International Federation (SKIF) ever since, and is a current board member for SKIF-USA.
Kanazawa Sensei features on Seienchin and Seipai.
Information Sources (including, but not exclusively):
Kata - The Folk Dances of Shotokan by Rob Redmond
Okinawan Karate - A History of Masters and Styles by Christopher Clarke
Shotokan Karate International Kata Vols 1 and 2 by Hirokazu Kanazawa
Sensei Andy Gillies