Jiin, an introduction
As for the history of the kata I tend to think Itosu created this Kata, as he did Bassai Sho and Tekki nidan/Sandan as a Jion-Sho, so to speak! Their is no record of this Kata pre-dating the work that Itosu did on this kata. Nothing of any merit has surfaced to suggest that Itosu did not create this form.
The Shotokan Version may have suffered some neglect over the years as well. Shorin ryu uses Jiin as a Kata as well. But it is said to place more importance on the Kata as well as having retained the last four original Kata movements which appear to have been dropped by Shotokan. One historian, a Shorin ryu specialist, suggests that due to the similarities of Jion, Jutte and Jiin that they came from one 'temple' Kata and were extracted out similar to a running theory about Tekki/Naifanchi. No master Kata form has be brought forth as a suggested "Parent" form from which all three were taken however.
History of Ji’in
Jiin was not a Kata that was commonly taught by Gichin Funikoshi or the JKA but it still has many unique qualities. It has been suggested that Nakayaam was studying this Kata and preparing to add a book to his best Karate series, along with Wankan, that would include Jiin but he passed away prior to completing his research.
Jiin, often seen spelt as Giin is seen as a slightly more complex Kata that appears to have ties to Jion and Jutte. Jiin is also taught in Shito ryu with some minor changes to the Kata. One story stats that Jiin was created by Itosu after he experimented changing Jion around and ended up developing a new Kata based on Jions ideas. Jiin is considerably more circular in it approach to similar kihon than Jion and the changes could have shown a leaning towards the less linear principles that came from the Chinese roots of Karate.
Some Kenji experts point to the fact that the Kenji for 'Ji' is often written using the Kenji meaning 'tender or gentle' and others using the kenji for 'Temple' as does Jion. This could mean that either the Kata is linked to Jion or someone is trying to make the link as the names sound similar and the techniques all seem to coincide similarly. Other masters have used Kenji meaning 'blood and or earth' in the name which has been seen as a personal interpretation and not as the original name of the Kata.
The Kata is also sometimes written Jiin in some styles and uses kenji meaning 'benevolence or low'. And state low refers to were the power comes from or a low center. Again this seems to be interpretation set up to explain specific training points of the Kata. Some people also suggest that the 'IN' part of the name suggests the female counterpart to the male, in this case they feel the male would be Jion. Some instructors in other styles also suggest that the name means 'shadows' as a reference to being in the shadows of Jion. All of these are interesting but do not work out to be all that accurate. The Kenji used for writing the Katas name would not suggest any link to 'IN' or 'Shadows'. This allows for many interpretation of the Kata name. The currently accepted name is a reference to the temple Jion-Ji and the temple grounds.
While Funakoshi did not practice this Kata often it is said he tried to rename this Kata as well as his other transplanted Kata. The name he tried to stick to this Kata was Shokyo or waving pines. But this may be confusion between two other Kata he tried to rename. It would be rather unusual for Funakoshi, who used the pen name Shoto or "waving pines" to name a Kata that he did not do often with his Pen name.
While researching Jiin I found that the 'original' or older version had been changed or modified for the newer Kata. For one the manji Kamae the practitioner uses a back stance in the newer incarnation and in the original they use a front stance facing away from the attacker. another difference is the use of the Neiko dachi in place of Kokutsu and Zenkutsu and only two back fists strikes while turning. A different sequence at the end finishes the Kata than in the new Kata. Also at the end their is a short piece that was removed that saw the student performing a basic Age uke and Oi zuki to one side then the other.
Jiin is one of the "lost" Kata of Shotokan. It often has little appeal to students as it is so much like Jion and at the same time rather strange to look at and perform. Jiin itself was shelved by the JKA and for many reasons given was not included in the JKA series "best Karate" with Wankan also not making the cut.
I always thought Jiin was a very interesting Kata, but not one that I focused on in training. It tended to confuse me and make my Jion worse. One of my Juniors, Brice, was always doing this Kata and it suited his bulky, stocky form. He has a powerful torso and it matched up well with Jiins strengths. Jiin, Jutte and Jion may not actually be part of a series but they all have that same power and character suited for people with that kind of shape and structure.
Jiin should be approached with the kind of mentality that Jion is approached. A grandeur and elegance in its performance. It is in my mind the next step for those that are training in Jion. A more complicated and complex rendition of the Kata that adds some dimension to the established simplicity that Jion offers. A more dynamic version of the Kata that focuses on a few alterations to the lesson plan.