Chitō-ryū: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Chitō-ryū Karate (千唐流空手)
Osensei-kamae m.jpg
Tsuyoshi Chitose
Country of origin  Ryūkyū Kingdom
Creator Chitose Tsuyoshi;
Parenthood Chinese martial arts, indigenous martial arts of the Ryūkyū Islands (Naha-te, Shuri-te, Tomari-te)

Chitō-ryū (千唐流?) is a style of karate founded by Tsuyoshi Chitose (千歳 剛直?). The name of the style translates as: chi (千) - 1,000; (唐)- China; ryū (流) - style. Thus meaning "1,000 year old Chinese style." The character (唐) refers to the Tang Dynasty of China. The style was officially founded in 1946.[1]

Chitose was born as Tsuyoshi Chinen on October 18, 1898 in the town of Kumochi, Naha City, Okinawa Prefecture, although he would also use the name Chinen Gua while in Okinawa. He came from a martial arts lineage - his maternal grandfather was Matsumura Sōkon (松村 宗棍 Matsumura Sōkon?), the personal bodyguard to the Okinawan (Ryūkyū Kingdom) royal household and one of the original Karate masters of Okinawa. As a young man born and raised in Okinawa, Chitose grew up studying the pre-karate art of Tōde (or "Tō-te") (唐手) from many of the top masters of the period. In 1922, he moved to mainland Japan to practice medicine, where Chitō-ryū 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. It was during this time that he changed his name for personal reasons to Tsuyoshi Chitose.

Although generally classified as a Japanese karate style simply because Chitose formulated and founded Chitō-ryū 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 Tōde (唐手).



Chitose began his training in Tote under Aragaki Seishō in 1905 when he was seven years old and continued to train with him until 1913/1914. While there is some discrepancy as to whether Chitose's first kata was Sanchin or Seisan, his book "Kempō Karate-dō" states that he learned Sanchin from Aragaki for seven years before being taught another. Also attributed to his training with Aragaki Seishō are the kata Unshu, Seisan, Niseishi, and possibly Shihōhai. Aragaki was also a famous weapons master, leaving behind several bo and sai kata including Aragaki-no-kun, Aragaki-no-sai and Sesoku-no-kun. One of Aragaki's most famous students was Higaonna Kanryō, a major influence of the Gōju-ryū style who was also one of Chitose's primary teachers.



Empty-Hand Kata

The kata of Chitō-ryū are very concise and they reflect the unique and diverse training experiences of the founder. Many Chitō-ryū kata bear the same name as other traditional Okinawan kata, but the kata itself is typically very different from the original or standard version. Some of these kata may have only one or two signature moves that relate it to the original, and in other cases the kata are completely different except in name. There are some exceptions to this; Chitō-ryū versions of Seisan, Passai and Chintō are near identical to the original Shōrin-ryū forms as taught by Chōtoku Kyan. Chitō-ryū also contains a few kata that are not found in other systems such as: Shihōhai, Tenshin and Ryūsan. Overall, the higher-level kata of Chitō-ryū show a decisively strong Chinese influence compared to other Karate systems. Additionally, outside and above of the standard syllabus are kata such as Unsu and Hoen which are very fluid complex kata that are undoubtedly derived from a strong Chinese martial arts influence. This mix of kata derived from various sources sets the groundwork for a unique and comprehensive fighting system.

Shihōhai (四方拝)

Shihōhai is a kata that is peculiar to the Chitō-ryū system (and derivative systems). The name translates as: Shi (四) - Four; Hō (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 Shihō (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 Chitō-ryū syllabus, some sources claim the kata comes from Chitose's first teacher, Aragaki Seishō. Other sources (specifically Chitose's own book, Kempō Karate-dō) state that he learned this kata from Hanashiro Chōmo at Sōgen-ji as well as the kata Jion and Jitte. Historically, it has been handed down from Chitose that this kata was used in the royal ceremonies of the Ryūkyū Kingdom. The "salutation to all four sides" was of great significance during these ceremonies. Some Chitō-ryū groups practice a Dai version of Shihōhai that contains a few additional techniques throughout the kata; however, the overall format is still the same. The Ryūsei Karate group under Ō-sensei's son-in-law, Sakamoto-sensei, version of Shihōhai concludes with a few additional techniques, but again the overall format of the kata is the same.[2]

Niseishi (二十四歩) Sho/Dai (小/大)

The version Niseishi found in Chitō-ryū is unlike other versions of Niseishi. The kata actually bears a closer resemblance to a Fujian 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 “Twenty-four Steps.” There are two versions of this kata within the Chitō-ryū 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 Chitose's first teacher, Aragaki Seishō. Niseishi is commonly used in preparation for training in Sanchin kata. 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), kyūsho-waza (vital point techniques) and take-downs.

Seisan (正整)

Seisan is a kata found in both Naha-te and Shuri-te lineages. The Chitō-ryū version most resembles the Shuri-te version passed on by Chōtoku Kyan. The kanji used in Chitō-ryū 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 is quite old, probably one of the oldest kata in Okinawa. The Shōrin-ryū variants have been in Okinawa longer, and the second variant among Naha-te styles (Gojū-ryū mostly, but Uechi-ryū as well) was introduced later in a second form that shares many of the same movements and patterns. Although not practiced in every style, Seisan appears in all three major Karate lineages in Okinawa--Shōrin-ryū, Gojū-ryū and Uechi-ryū.

Bassai (抜塞)

One of the most common kata in the Shōrin-ryū lineages, this kata is traditionally said to have originated with Sōkon Matsumura. The kanji used for Bassai translates as: Batsu (抜) - to extract or remove; Sai (塞) - close, shut, cover. The accepted translation used for Bassai is “To Storm a Fortress.” Although nothing in the two kanji translates to fortress, it should be noted that the character Sai (塞) is used as part of words for fort, fortress, stronghold, and citadel among others in the Japanese language. According to Chitose's book, Kempo Karate-do, he learned Bassai from Chōtoku Kyan. Chito-ryū Bassai closely resembles Matsubayashi-ryū Bassai (Passai) as well as Seibukan Bassai, other styles in the Kyan/Aragaki Ankichi lineage. Kyan Chotoku learned his Bassai from a Tomari village master named Oyadomari Kokan, the version practiced by Chitō-ryū is very similar to the unaltered Oyadomari Bassai. Although Chitō-ryū Bassai is from Tomari village, it bears a striking resemblance to the Shuri versions of Bassai (the Bassai-dai from Shotokan, Shitō-ryū, and Shuri-ryū) are examples of the Shuri Bassai) and definitely shares a common root. The main difference between the Shuri version and the Tomari version are that the Shuri versions are done primarily with closed fists, while the Tomari versions are primarily open handed.


Another kata common to the Shōrin-ryū linages. Quite advanced, it includes jumping, jumping kicks and intricate hand techniques. The Chitō-ryū version is done in a north-south pattern, unlike many other versions of Shōrin-ryū Chintō which are done at a north-west to south-east pattern (Matsubayashi for example).


While sharing a name with kata from other styles, the Chitō-ryū version is completely different and is probably a unique creation by Chitose. Distinctive elements of the Chitō-ryū version include defense and attack to all four sides and the bull like posture with the arms.

Rōhai (鷺牌) Sho/Dai (小/大)

Completely different from other styles' Rōhai kata, this seems to be Chitose's own creation. It is packed with Chitō-ryū signature movements and is probably the style's most distinctive kata. It borrows from Fujian White Crane with movements similar to the Chitō-ryū Niseishi. It is a mix of closed fisted and open handed techniques with a one-kneed stance at the very beginning.

Tenshin (転身)

It looks simple initially, but is a deceptively complex kata with many twisting, dodging movements and complex timings. It is unique to the style in both name and form and is not found outside of Chitō-ryū derived styles. It was probably created by Chitose and doesn't seem derived from other kata.

Sanshiryu (三十六歩)

The name means 36 steps, but is pronounced with no relation to the characters "san-jyu-roku-ho.” It seems, from comparing this kata to kata from other styles, that this is a version of the Shōrin-ryū lineage Gojūshiho (54 steps), which can be found in Shitō-ryū, or various Shōrin-ryū styles (Matsubayashi for example). It may be as simple as a shortened version of the kata, although the movements are quite distinctively Chitō-ryū. Also, if this is a version of Gojūshiho, then parts have been used in the following Chitō-ryū kata as well: Rōhai, Sōchin and Sanshiryu, which have the one kneed stance called "tate-hiza" and a cross block.

Kusanku (公相君)

The opening of the Chitō-ryū version of Kusanku is nearly identical to the opening of the classical Shōrin-ryū versions found in other lineages. However, after these initial moves, the kata departs drastically. There are two versions that are commonly practiced, the Sho and Dai versions. The Dai version doubles the length of the kata.

Ryūsan (龍山)

Translated as "Dragon Mountain", it is meant to be "Dragon climbing the mountain". It is not found in any other styles of karate outside of Chitō-ryū (except for Patrick McCarthy's koryū style, but there is debate about where his kata comes from). It is completely open handed from beginning to end with stabbing fingers, ridge hand and knife-edge blocks and palm strikes. The stance transitions are complex with the trailing leg sometimes pulling up and creating a shorter seisan-dachi, which is unlike other kata in the style.

There is a signature movement in the middle of the kata where the karateka stands on one leg, thrusts one hand straight up and one hand straight down, and then switches legs and hands. This movement gives the kata its name.

Sanchin (三戦)

Like Niseishi, Sanchin is a very old kata that is also generally acknowledged as originating in southern China from the Fujian White Crane style of martial art. In Chinese styles this form is practiced with the use of open hands throughout, while in Chitō-ryū there is significant use of closed hands (fist). Ideally, it is supposed to take no less than seven minutes to perform properly and focuses on highly developed use of breathing techniques, shime′ and the Tanden( 丹田). In Chitō-ryū, Sanchin is generally considered a senior dan kata, and is usually only required at levels above yondan.

Kihon Kata

  • Zenshin Kotai (前進後退)
  • Shime no Kata (しめの形)
  • Kihon no Empi (基本の猿臂)
  • Ni Juu Shichi Te Waza (二十七手技)
  • Seiken no Migi Hidari (正拳の右・左)
  • Shi Ho Wari (四方割)
  • Kihon Kata Ichi (基本形一)
  • Kihon Kata Ni (基本形二)
  • Kihon Kata San (基本形三)

Kobudō Kata

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

Additional Kata

  • Wansu
  • Ananko
  • Tensho
  • Unsu
  • Seichin
  • Hoen
  • Rochin
  • Gung-fu no Kata


  • Niseishi Kaisetzu
  • Nage no Kata
  • Henshuho
  • Hangeikiho/Hogeikiho
  • Uketeho
  • Hantenho
  • Rintenho
  • Tehodoki
  • Seiken no Tori

Definition of the Crest

There are four main part to the Chitō-ryū Crest:

  • First, the outline of the crest represents Yata No Kagami (八咫鏡?), 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 represented 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 Chitō-ryū 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-dō Federation founded by Toyama Kanken, of which Chitō-ryū is a member. Another version still remains in use by the International Shudokan Karate Association. See also Shudōkan.

Signature aspects

There are a number of 'signature techniques' of this style, which point to its Okinawan Tō-te roots. These include: an emphasis on 'shime' - a contraction of the muscles in the lower part of the body to generate additional strength and stability in stances; the use of 'shibori' - twisting contraction of the muscles in a specific area (often the arms) aimed at generating strength (as in the strands of a cable); rapid rotational movements; and frequent use of movement off the line of attack (tai sabaki) at advanced levels. Note: Perhaps fittingly, the Japanese term shibori also refers to the traditional patterned dyeing of cloth through the use of a twisting and clamping technique.

Chitose, who was ackowledged in Okinawa as one of the last of the great Tō-te masters, created Chitō-ryū by combining 70% of the strength techniques from Shuri-te (see also Shōrin-ryū and Shōrei-ryū), with those of Naha-te. While present, the influence of Tomari-te is less than that of the two previously mentioned foundation styles.


Shōwa (唱和) is the code of Chitō-ryū practitioners. It is often recited at the end of classes.

Japanese[3][4] Rōmaji English translation


Ware ware karate-dō o shugyō surumono wa
Tsuneni, bushidō seishin o wasurezu
Wa to nin o motte nashi
Soshite, tsutomereba kanarazu tassu

We who study karate
Shall always remember the spirit of Bushido
With harmony, perseverance, and hard work,
We shall reach our goals

Chitō-ryū around the world


Chito-ryū is a popular mainstream karate style in Canada, with almost 60 Chito-ryū dojo in 8 of Canada's 10 provinces. 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, who was then head of Chito-ryū in Canada. During this trip, Chitose presided over events at the Canadian National Karate Tournament in Toronto and conducted clinics at dojo across Canada. The current head of the Chito-ryū style, the son of Chitose, continued this practice, conducting clinics in Canada for Chito-ryū practitioners approximately every other year. However, in 2008, a rift occurred between the Canadian Chito-ryū Karate-dō Association [3] and the parent organization. The result was that the Canadian association and approximately three quarters of the Canadian dojo agreed to separate from Japan and became independent. The remaining dojo, in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia, remain associated with the parent organization in Japan.

The Canadian Chito-ryū Karate-dō Association is now an independent organization dedicated to teaching the style as it was taught by its founder, O'Sensei Chitose. It is headed by Shane Higashi, who was formerly the Kyoshi for Canada and the Vice Sohonbucho for Chito-ryū. Higash Sensei was recently awarded the title of Hanshi and 9th dan. He studied under O'Sensei Tsuruoka, becoming his first black belt student, and also briefly lived with and studied under Chito-ryū founder O'Sensei Chitose. Both Higashi Sensei and O'Sensei Tsuruoka have recently been inducted into the Canada's National Karate Association (NKA) [4] Hall of Fame.


the International Chito-Ryu Karate-do Federation of Australia Inc (ICKFA) is the governing association for all Chito-Ryu dojos in Australia with the primary purpose of promoting the study of this unique style of Karate-do throughout Australia.

Chito-Ryu was introduced to Australia by Sensei Vance Prince then 4th Dan in the late 1960's - early 1970's (the exact date is unknown). He came to Australia from Canada via the SOHONBU where he spent some time training under O'Sensei. Prince Sensei was later graded to 5th Dan, Renshi before his involvement in the evolution of Australian Chito-Ryu ended.

In the late 1970's Sensei Bill Ker was appointed President and Honbucho (Chief Instructor) of Chito-Ryu in Australia. He later gained the rank of Yondan. In early 1991 he retired from active involvement in the style. On the retirement of Ker Sensei, Sensei Brian Hayes was appointed President and Honbucho by Soke Chitose.

In November 2004, Sensei Michael Noonan was appointed to represent Soke Sensei and the ICKF in Australia as Honbucho. Noonan Sensei currently teaches at the “Tasseikan” dojo in Sydney and regularly travels to Japan to further his study of Chito-Ryu under the guidance of Soke Sensei and other senior Chito-Ryu Karateka.

In October 2008, Noonan Sensei was graded to the rank of 6th Dan, Renshi. At the same time, Mark Snow Sensei and Martin Phillips Sensei, was graded to the level of Shihan. And for the first time in the history of Australian Chito-Ryu, three active members achieved the level of Shihan or higher. This formed the foundation of an Australian Shihan-kai, which serves to protect the teachings of Soke Sensei in Australia and support Noonan Renshi as Honbucho (Chief Instructor).

United States of America

United States Chitō-ryū Karate Federation

The United States Chitō-ryū Karate Federation is dedicated to preserving the kata and techniques of Chitō-ryū's founder, Chitose. The federation was established by William J. and Barbara E. Dometrich (U.S. Chito-kai founders), and as interpreted by the U.S. Shihan-kai and taught by the U.S. Chief Instructor and promulgate Chitō-ryū wherever possible. The Hombu-Dojo is located in Covington, Kentucky.

The Koshin-ha Chitō-ryū Karate Association

The Koshin-ha Chitō-ryū Karate Association is dedicated to the preservation and development of Chitō-ryū karate-dō as created by Doctor Tsuyoshi Chitose. The Koshin-ha Chitō-ryū Karate-do Association was formed in 2004 from several of the most senior ranking Chitō-ryū practitioners in the United States. The organization was formed to create an environment that allowed for maximum growth of its individual members and dojo while maintaining the highest technical standards. Unlike many martial arts organizations run by a single person, the Koshin-ha is governed by two groups of individuals: senior practitioners (known collectively as the Shihan-kai), and dojo chief instructors (known collectively as the Shibu-kai).

See also


  1. Kempo Karate-dō — Universal Art of Self-Defense (拳法空手道一般の護身術) by Tsuyoshi Chitose, ISBN 0-9687791-0-7. The seminal textbook by the founder of Chitō-ryū Karate-dō.
  2. The Endless Quest — The Autobiography of an American Karate Pioneer by William J. Dometrich, ISBN 0-9687791-1-5.

External links

Chitō-ryū Organizations

Independent Chitō-ryū Organizations

Other Articles


  1. ^ (
  2. ^ (
  3. ^ "[1]." 国際千唐流空手道連盟 Retrieved on 2009-10-17.
  4. ^ "[2]." 千唐流空手道 熊本に総本部道場をおく、防具付空手道|唱和 Retrieved on 2009-10-17.


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address