Yasutsune Itosu

 

Master Ankho Itosu lived in the small town of Shuri from his birth in 1840 until his death in 1925. In 1856, when Itosu was sixteen years old, his father was able to convince Bushi Matsumura to accept young Ankho as this student. Matsumura taught Itosu the rigid old-school Shuri regimen including complete submission and obedience, physically demanding training schedules, and finally having to fight a bull for his promotion.

Through the rigorous training Itosu realized the benefits of his peak physical fitness. In 1901 Itosu broke with the tradition of teaching Karate in secrecy and he began teaching it as a part of the regular physical education curriculum in the Okinawan schools. Itosu was the first person to open public karate schools and in 1918 he had created such a name for himself in Karate that the head of the Japanese school system requested a demonstration of this new art form.

The two highest-ranking students of Itosu at the time were Choki Motobu and Gichin Funakoshi. Althought Motobu was higher ranking, Funakoshi was asked to represent Itosu due to him being a more polished gentleman. The Japanese were so impressed with the art and Funakoshi that he was convinced to stay in Japan and teach others the art. Choki Motobu journeyed to China in the 1920's where he taught a missionary by the name of Tung Gee Hsing. (Who taught Trias)

There is a story that when Itosu was sixty-five years old he was issued a challenge by a young Japanese Naichi policeman who was proficient in Judo to pit this Okinawan karate against the popular Judo of Japan. When the younger Judo-ka tried tried to grab a hold of the elderly Itosu's clothing, Itosu simply drove his fist into the Judoman's solar plexus, leaving him on the floor grasping for breath.

Itosu is credited with having refined many of his Master's ancient techniques, developing from them the movements of many of the katas as they are practiced today. Itosu taught that the perfection of the body, the controlling of breathing, and the intense concentration obtained through meditation all can be found through the repeated practicing of the kata techniques he created and developed.

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Source: http://www.shuri-ryu.org/shuri-ryu/itosu.htm