Like all mainstream karate styles, Chito-Ryu traces its ancestry back to the old Chinese martial arts of the Tang dynasty (618-907AD). These martial arts, brought to Okinawa from Fukien Province of China, were passed on through the diligence and thoroughness of many past masters. Chito Ryu Karate itself was developed by the Okinawan Karate master, Dr. Tsuyoshi Chitose (1898-1984). He based his teachings on his extensive study of Okinawan Shorei-Ryu and Shorin-Ryu Karate and his medical knowledge of physiology. He combined the strengths of the two karate systems and eliminated the training elements which were detrimental to the health and well-being of the practitioner. Chinen Gua (O Sensei’s original name) was born to an upper-class family with a distinguished martial arts heritage in Kumochi Naha, a small town in Okinawa (a group of islands south of mainland Japan). Chitose was a medical doctor by profession, but mastered many martial arts including Karate, Judo and Kobudo. O Sensei began his studies at the age of seven with the highly-respected Aragaki Au (1840-1918) and he trained alongside many of modern karate’s founding fathers including the legendary Gichin Funakoshi. O Sensei grew up in a time before the different styles of karate were as clearly established as they are today, and it was commonplace to train openly under a variety of teachers at the same time. Shito Ryu’s Chotoku Kyan (1870-1945) for instance, had a great influence on the young Chinen and left one of the deepest technical imprints on today’s Chito ryu. Choyu Motobu (1865-1927) was also an important teacher in Chinen’s development. His family’s art of ‘ti’ had a lot in common with the softer movements in aikido, and employed the use of punching and kicking techniques, evasion, locks, throws, sweeps and choking techniques which have found a prominent place in today’s Chito Ryu Dr. Chitose became the Supreme Instructor, 10th dan, of Chito-Kai of the All Japan Karate Doh Federation and in 1975 he moved his dojo which was known as the SOHONBU (General headquarters) to Tsuboi, Kumamoto City, where it presently exists. At O-Sensei’s death in 1984, his son Yasuhiro Chitose assumed the name of his father , Tsuyoshi Chitose and took on the responsibilities as new Soke.
Chito-Ryu Karate in Canada
Dr. Chitose visited Canada in 1967, accompanied by one of his leading protégés, Mamoru Yamamoto (who would later go on to found Yōshūkai Karate-do). This trip was organized by Masami Tsuruoka, widely recognized as the father of Canadian karate, and who was then head of Chito-ryu in Canada. During this trip, Chitose presided over events at the Canadian National Karate Tournament in Toronto and conducted clinics at dojos across Canada. Once opening his own dojo in Toronto in the 1960’s, Higashi Sensei trained extensively in Japan under the guidance of O Sensei. In 1979, he was ultimately designated as the leading authority in Canada for Chito Ryu Karate by O Sensei, and at that time formed the Canadian Chito Ryu Karate Do Association to co-ordinate the development of Chito Ryu karate in Canada. The style has then enjoyed a long period of rich growth and development as Higashi Sensei travels from coast-to-coast promoting and teaching Chito-Ryu. After his death in 1984, O Sensei’s son assumed the headship of the International Chito Ryu Association. Most of the Chito Ryu dojos in Canada remained with this new organization. In the spring of 2008, after a long and fruitful association with the Hombu dojo in Japan, the Chito Ryu Association of Canada, and with it most provincial Chito Ryu Associations, separated from Soke and the International Chito Ryu Association. The Canadian Association is now in full control of Chito Ryu in Canada under the tutelage of Hanshi Shane Higashi, 10th Dan.