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Chito-ryu Karate


Chito-ryu is a style of karate founded by Doctor Chitose Tsuyoshi. The name of the style translates as 1,000 year old Chinese Style. The character Tou (唐) refers to the Tang Dynasty Era of Chinese civilization. The style was officially founded in 1946.

As a young man born and raised in Okinawa, Dr. Chitose grew up studying the pre-karate art of Tode (or "To-te") (唐手) from many of the top masters of the period. He later moved to mainland Japan to practice medicine, where Chito-ryu evolved as he utilized his modern medical knowledge of anatomy and physiology to modify traditional techniques to make them both more effective against opponents as well as less detrimental to the bodies and joints of long-term practitioners.

Although generally classified as a Japanese karate style simply because Dr. Chitose formulated and founded Chito-ryu principally while living in Kumamoto, Japan, some modern practitioners feel it is more properly categorized as an Okinawan style given that its roots and techniques are firmly grounded in and derived from traditional Okinawan Tode (唐手).

Chitose Tsuyoshi

Chitose Tsuyoshi was born as Chinen Gua on October 18, 1898 in the town of Kumochi, Naha City, Okinawa Prefecture.

Development & Influences

"Development & Influences" will primarily deal with Chitose’s early training and instructors, the "middle-years" influences of his medical instruction and teaching with Funakoshi, then conclude with his continuing study of Okinawan and Chinese kata and techniques that continued to be folded into the style. –>

Chitose Tsuyoshi’s Teachers

  • Aragaki Seisho (新垣 世璋)
  • Higashionna Kanryo (東恩納 寛量)
  • Chotoku Kyan (喜屋武 朝徳)
  • Hanashiro Chomo (花城長茂)
  • Motobu Choyu
  • Chinen Sanda

Chito-ryu Kata

Empty-Hand Kata

  • Shihohai (四方拝)
    Shihohai is a kata that is peculiar to the Chito-ryu system (and derivative systems). The name translates as: Shi (四) – Four; Ho (方) – side or direction; Hai (拝) salute. The name thus translates as "salute to four sides." Also it should be noted that the combination of kanji Shiho (四方) can mean all sides. In which case, the kata name could translate as "salute to all sides." There is some dispute as to the origin of this kata in the Chito-ryu syllabus, some sources claim the kata comes from Dr. Chitose’s first teacher, Aragaki Seisho. Other sources (specifically Dr. Chitose’s own book, Kempo Karate-do) state that he learned this kata from Hanashiro Chomo at Sogenji as well as the kata Jion and Jitte. Historically, it has been handed down from Dr. Chitose that this kata was used in the royal ceremonies of the Ryukyu Kingdom during the Ryukyu Dynasty Age. The salutation to all four sides was of great significance during these ceremonies.
  • Niseishi Sho/Dai (二十四歩小・大)
    The version Niseishi found in Chito-ryu is unlike other versions of Niseishi on Okinawa. The kata actually bears a closer resemblance to a White Crane form called Hakutsuru. The name translates as: Ni (二) – Two; Sei (十) – Ten; Shi (四) – Four; Ho (歩) [silent]– Step/Walk. The characters Niseishi (二十四) together mean 24, and adding the final character which is silent creates the meaning "Twentyfour Steps." There are two versions of this kata within the Chito-ryu syllabus: they are the Sho and Dai versions. There is actually very little difference between the two, the Dai version containing one additional sequence of movements not found in the Sho version, but otherwise the kata are identical. The origins of the kata are credited to Dr. Chitose’s first teacher, Aragaki Seisho. Niseishi is commonly used in preparation for training in Sanchin kata. Dr. Chitose also made minor modifications to the breathing techniques in the kata for health reasons based on his medical background. In addition to the kata there is a set of 11 Niseishi Kaisetsu (解説) techniques which are drawn from movements in the kata and are executed with a partner. These kaisetsu cover a variety of techniques including striking, kansetsu-waza (joint locking), kyusho-waza (vital point techniques) and take-downs.
  • Seisan (正整)
    Seisan is a kata found in both Naha-te and Shuri-te lineages. The Chito-ryu version most resembles the Shuri-te version passed on by Chotoku Kyan. The kanji used in Chito-ryu translates as: Sei (正) – correct; San (整) – arrangement or position. In combination, Seisan translates to "Correct Arrangement." Traditionally however, the Kanji used for Seisan is: 十三 which translates to "Thirteen." These are the kanji used in most other systems to describe this kata. Seisan can be traced back as one of the oldest forms practiced in Okinawa, the only older form being Sanchin kata. Seisan appears in all three major Karate systems in Okinawa—Shorin-ryu, Goju-ryu and Uechi-ryu.
  • Bassai (座塞)
  • Chinto (鎮東)
  • Sochin (荘鎮)
  • Rohai Sho/Dai
  • Tenshin (転身)
  • Sanshiryu (三十六歩)
  • Kusanku (公相君)
  • Ryusan (龍山)
  • Sanchin (三戦)

Kihon Kata

  • Zenshin Kotai (前進後退)
  • Shime no Kata (しめの形)
  • Kihon no Empi
  • Seiken no Migi Hidari (正拳の右・左)
  • Kihon Kata Ichi (基本形一)
  • Kihon Kata Ni (基本形二)
  • Kihon Kata San (基本形三)

Kobudo Kata

  • Sakugawa no Kun
  • Shushi no Kun
  • Sesoko no Kun
  • Chinen no Bo
  • Maezato Ryu
  • Tawada Ryu
  • Yabiku Ryu
  • Chito Ryu

Additional Kata

  • Wansu
  • Unsu
  • Ananko
  • Pinan
  • Naihanchi
  • Rochin
  • Gung-fu no Kata

Definition of the Chito-Ryu Crest

There are four main part to the Chito-Ryu Crest:

  • First, the outline of the crest represents Yata No Kagami (八咫鏡, Yata No Kagami?), the sacred mirror of Japan which stands for wisdom and honesty.
  • Second, the disc in the center of the crest is the Hinomaru (日の丸, "sun disc"?). The sun is the cultural symbol of Japan which is derived from Asian mythology and is represened as the national symbol seen on the flag of Japan.
  • Third are the Japanese characters seen on the Crest (千唐流 空手道). These are read as Chito-Ryu Karate-do and represent the Chito-Kai Association.
  • Fourth (no longer used on some crests) is the Clasping of the Hands in the Circle. The fingers clasping hands in a circle is representative of the way of Karate. Many Eastern philosophies understand the belief in life as a continuity or a continual flow as seen in the mathematical symbol, the circle, a line without beginning or end. Within that circle lie two hands clasping togother in apposition. Where one ends the other begins, continuously chasing each other year after year. The seasons are an example of contrasts; summer, winter, spring, and fall. Karate can also be seen to be like the seasons; hard and direct, soft and circular. It takes these two contrasting feelings to make a whole and, in the same way, Karate requires a person to be hard and direct, soft and circular. Only when a student has mastered these two elements does he/she really know the Way of Karate.

The design is based on the crest of the All Japan Karate-Do Federation founded by Toyama Kanken, of which Chitoryu was a member. Another version still remains in use by the International Shudokan Karate Association. See also Shudōkan.

Signature Aspects of Chito-ryu

A few additional trademarks of Chito Ryu Karate include the hip technique emphasis during Kata performance and hard, slow respiratory techniques. The hip technique (koshi-waza) is performed by first stepping back, then forward when beginning many of the katas (unlike fast Shotokan and Goju Ryu forms). Although this movement takes more time when completing some techniques, like low blocks (gedan barai) it provides greater power through greater hip movement. In addition to koshi-waza there are many respiratory techniques which are used during kata training. These hard breathing (kokyo) techniques help cleanse the body by compressing the internal organs in order to excrete toxins and enzymes, in the Chitoryu katas respiratory techniques are usually used to signify either choking or throwing an opponent (shime or nage).

Chitose created Chitoryu by combining 70% of the strength techniques from Shorin Ryu and Shorei Ryu.

Chito-derived and Influenced Styles

"Chito-derived & Influenced Styles" will give a nod to many of the great karate-ka who trained with or under Chitose and then went on to use his methods in styles of their own such as Ryusei, Yoshukai, Tsuruoka-ryu, Shintora-Kai and others which I know are represented in the Chitonet membership.


Showa is the code or "motto" of Chito-Ryu practitioners. Shown below are the English and phonetic Japanese versions.

Ware Ware Chito-Ryu Karate-Do O Shugyo Tsurumonewa Tsuneni Bushido Seishin o Wasurezu Wa to Nin o Motte Nashi Soshite Tsutomereba Kanarazu Tasu!

We who study Chito-Ryu Karate-Do Shall always remember the spirit of the Samurai, With harmony, dedication, and smart work, We shall reach our goals!

This code is often recited at the end of classes.

Chito-ryu Around the World

"Chito-ryu Around the World" is where I see more specific historical information on the "history" of Chito-ryu in varioius countries, how it progressed in Japan through the life of Chitose and then passed to his son as the 2nd Soke, how Tsuruoka brought it to Canada and Dometrich to the US and so forth.


Chito Ryu is a popular mainstream karate style in Canada, with almost 60 Chito Ryu dojos in 8 of Canada’s 10 provinces. Chitose visited Canada in 1967, accompanied by one of his leading protogés, Yamamoto (who would later go on to found Yoshukai karatedo). This trip was organized by Tsuruoka, widely recognized as the father of Canadian karate, who was then head of Chito Ryu in Canada. During this trip, Chitose presided over events at the Canadian National Karate Tournement in Toronto and conducted clinics at dojos across Canada. The current head of the Chito Ryu style, Soke Sensei – the son of Chitose, continues this practice and conducts clinics in Canada for Chito Ryu practitioners approximately every other year.


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