History of Chito-Ryu

Biography of O'Sensei Chitose
(exerpt from a document compiled by Blanchette sensei)

A family tradition ...
... that continued in Okinawa ...
... and flourished in Japan
History of Chito-Ryu in Canada

A family tradition ...
The family of O’Sensei Chitose (O’Sensei means "grand master") was known for many generations for its skills in martial arts.

O’Sensei’s grandfather was “bushi” (warrior) Matsumura, who is still a legend in Okinawa to this day. He was a leader in the Okinawa government and a grand karate master.

"Bushi" Matsumura had six children. One of them, Chinen Masuo Chiyoyu got married and his wife gave birth to Chinen Tsuyoshi on October 18, 1898 in Naha. For personal reasons, Chinen Tsuyoshi changed his name to Tsuyoshi Chitose. He was also known as Go Chyoku among his friends and as Dr. Chitose1 throughout the world..

1O’Sensei Chitose or Dr. Chitose refers to the founder of the Chito-Ryu karate-do style. Tsuyoshi Chitose or Chitose sensei (without an “O”) refers to his son.

... that continued in Okinawa ...
O’Sensei Chitose followed the family tradition and from 1905, devoted his time to karate training under Aragaki sensei, who introduced him to Sanchin, Shiho-hai, Niseishi Katas and bo-jutsu over a period of seven years.

Throughout his stay in Okinawa , O’Sensei Chitose studied and mastered several katas under the direct instruction of a number of grand masters.

In Shuri, he mastered bo-jutsu under Sanra Chinen Ou and tai ho jutsu under Kanagusuku Ou. He also studied Unsu and Wansu katas under Choyu Motobu and was taught Chinto, Bassai, Kusanku, Ananko, Gojushiho and Sanju roppo katas by Chotoku Kiyan. He mastered Jion, Jitte and Ryusan katas under Hanagusuku Chiyomu Sensei and learned Saihawa, Seipai, Kururun Hawa, Tensho and Rohai katas under master Kanryo Higaonna.

In Naha, O’Sensei Chitose learned Sai, Nunchaku, Tonfa and Tsuken Suna-Kaki katas under Kugusuku Ou and Maezato Ou. In 1922 he learned other forms of Sai, Tonfa and Nunchaku katas under Moden Yabiku in Japan.

2Okinawa Island became a Japanese prefecture and reverted to Japan in 1972.


... and flourished in Japan
In 1992, O’Sensei moved to Tokyo, Japan to study medicine at the Tokyo Medical University. He graduated at the age of 26.

He began to earn a reputation as a karate expert and held a series of public demonstrations that caught the media’s attention. At the time, he was practicing karate under the assumed name of Chinen Gua.

In addition to holding demonstrations to promote karate in Japan, O’Sensei was very active in teaching martial arts. He helped Funakoshi Gichin when the latter opened the Shotokai Yotsuya dojo and taught there for many years. During this period, some of his students included Hiroshi Otsuka, the founder of Wado-Ryu, and Koyu Konishi. He also taught forms of kumite and Seisan and Bassai katas at Keio University. One of his students was Sensei Masatoshi Nakayama who became the technical director of the Shotokan style after the death of Funakoshi, a position he held until his death in 1987.

Throughout his martial arts studies, grand master Chitose worked with many famous colleagues, including Chibana Chiyoshinshi, one of the biggest karate masters in Okinawa, Mabuni Ken Wa, founder of Shito-Ryu and Miyagusuku Chojuin, founder of Goju-Ryu.

O’Sensei was assigned to the army medical corps during the Second World War and attained the rank of major. After the war, he decided to devote the rest of his life to medicine and to teaching karate.

In March 1946, O’Sensei opened the first Chito-Ryu dojo in Kumamoto, Japan. The dojo was called Yoseikan Karate.

In 1958, he was awarded the grade of 10th dan by the Zen Okinawan Karate Kobudo Rengo Kai, which also awarded him the title of Hanshi in 1962. He became one of the few people to have the title in Japan.

In 1967 and 1982, he visited Canada and several other countries where he conducted technical clinics.

A group of karatekas with O’Sensei Chitose in 1982

O’Sensei Chitose died of a heart attack at 9:45 PM. Japanese time on June 6, 1984. He was 86. His son Soke Sensei Chitose took over as the international technical director.


History of Chito-Ryu in Canada
Chito-Ryu is the oldest form of karate in Canada. It was introduced by Sensei Tsuruoka in 1958.

Sensei Tsuroka was born in Canada in 1929. At the age of 10, he moved to Japan with his parents and at 17, began studying Chito-Ryu under O’Sensei Chitose. He earned his black belt at the age of 20. He returned to Canada after the Second World War and opened his first dojo in 1958.

Sensei Higashi was one of the first people to study Chito-Ryu in Canada. In 1969, he organized the first Chito-Ryu club in the Maritimes. Interest in Chito-Ryu in the Maritimes spread fast and thereafter, new clubs were opened in all the provinces.

In 1976, Chito-Ryu spread rapidly across western Canada, particularly in British Columbia and Alberta. This expansion was largely due to the efforts of Sensei Aktugawa.

Owing to the influence of Shotokan, which had a great impact on his teaching, Sensei Tsuruoka was relieved of his duties as technical director of the Chito-Ryu style in Canada. He was replaced by Sensei Shane Higashi in 1979. This appointment was proposed by O’Sensei Chitose and the board of directors of Chito-Ryu Japan. David Aktugwa was appointed deputy technical director for Canada at the same time.

The Canadian Chito-Kai Association was founded on December 16, 1979. The creation of the association was testimony to the desire to preserve the integrity and purity of the Chito-Ryu style, to encourage the development of Chito-Ryu in Canada and to maintain a strong relationship with the parent association in Japan.

Since its establishment, the Canadian Chito-Kai Association has grown steadily and has several clubs in all the provinces. The association has also promoted the development of clinics, summer training camps and tours by Japanese masters, among them O’Sensei Chitose and Sakamato Sensei (6th dan).

Aktugawa Sensei, 6th dan

To conserve and encourage the purity of the Chito-Ryu style, the technical committee of the Canadian Chito-Kai Association has prepared a technical manual that outlines the requirements for advancing from the white belt grade to black belt 4th dan.

Under the firm and committed guidance of Higashi Sensei and Aktugawa sensei, Chito-Ryu has continued to grow and take firm root in Canada. Every year, new dojos join the Chito-Kai Association, which continues to grow in strength.

Since 2008, the Canadian Chito-Ryu Association has been independent. It is led by Higashi sensei, who received his 9th dan, Hanshi, from O’Sensei Tsuruoka, the father of Canadian karate and Higashi sensei’s chief instructor, in November 2008.

In Quebec, the Canadian Association is represented by the Association Chito-Ryu Traditionnel du Québec - Traditional Chito-Ryu Association of Québec (ACRTQ) which is managed by a technical committee. Bisson sensei is a member of the committee.

O’Sensei Tsuruoka awarding the grade of 9th dan and the title of Hanshi to Higashi sensei

École de Karaté Cama Germain Bisson
110, rue Georges, Gatineau (Québec)

September 05th 2017
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