KARATEDO HISTORY

Ankō Itosu ( 1831 – 1915 )

 

Perhaps the greatest teacher in the history of Karate, Yasutsune "Anko" Itosu simplified many of the ancient katas, created several new ones of his own, and pioneered teaching methods that would revolutionize the art by making its study easier and less dangerous for future generations. For this, he is recognized as the father of modern Karate.

Born in Shuri in 1831, Itosu began his Karate training at an early age under Sokon Matsumura and subsequently trained under several other teachers, possibly including Kosaku Matsumora of Tomari. Well-educated in Chinese and Japanese literature, Itosu served as a translator to Sho Tai, the last of the Ryukyuan kings, until Sho Tai's fall from power in 1879.

In 1901, Itosu first introduced Karate into the physical education curriculum of the Okinawan public school system. This was a crucial step in transforming the public perception of Karate as a feudalistic killing art to one in which the emphasis was on health and spiritual well-being.

Itosu created the original Pinan (peaceful mind) katas, shodan through godan, practiced today in various forms by virtually all karate styles.

A list of Itosu's students reads like a who's who of famous Karate masters and includes: Gichin Funakoshi, Chomo Hanashiro, Chotoku Kyan, Chosin Chibana, Kentsu Yabu, Choki Motobu, Kenwa Mabuni, and Shigeru Nakamura.

 

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Ankoh Itosu

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