Chito-Ryu was developed by the Okinawan Karate master, Dr. Tsuyoshi Chitose (1898-1984). After the war, he moved from Tokyo to Kumamoto and in March 1946 he opened the karate-judo Yosei-kan in Kikuchi City, Kumamoto. Today the headquarters of the Chito Kai is in Kumamoto City. In 1952, Dr. Tsuyoshi Chitose named his group the All Japan Chito Kai, and its technical style as Chito-Ryu Karate-do. He based his teachings on his extensive study of Okinawan Shorei-Ryu (Naha-te from Aragaki Ou) and Shorin-Ryu (Shuri-te from Kiyan Chotoku) karate and his medical knowledge of physiology to form Chito-Ryu. The characters in the name Chito-Ryu translate as Chi=1000 (year old), To=Tang dynasty in China, Ryu=Style. This is an acknowledgment of the Okinawan tradition that the roots of Karate are traced back 1000 years in to China.
Goju-Ryu is a style of karate originally formulated in Okinawa by Chojun Miyagi in the early 20th century. Several associations in Okinawa and Japan now work at preserving and developing this unique style. It is distinguished by many circular techniques, close range sparring, and the use of special breathing to support the techniques.
The kata have slow strong parts and contain many unusual strikes with open hands. The kumite emphasizes blocking and hitting in a continuous flow with multiple strikes used in preference to a single telling blow.
The philosophy is based on integration of the hard (go) and the soft (ju) aspects of karate and life. The founder said, “Don’t hit others; don’t be hit by others; the point is to avoid strife.”
Shito-Ryu was founded by Kenwa Mabuni (1889-1952) in 1928 and was influenced directly by both Naha-te and Shuri-te. The name Shito is contractively derived from the combination of the Japanese characters of Mabuni’s teachers’ names – Itosu Ankoh and Kanryo Higashionna. Shito-ryu schools use a large number of kata (about sixty) and the style is characterized by an emphasis on power in the execution of techniques.
Shotokan was founded by Gichin Funakoshi (1896-1957) in Tokyo in 1938. Funakoshi is considered to be the founder of modern day karate. Born in Okinawa, he began to study karate with Yasutsune Azato, one of Okinawa’s greatest experts in the art. In the earliest stages the martial art was known simply as “Te” or “Tode” which mean “hand”. The Chinese character used to write Tode could also be pronounced “Kara” and the name Te was replaced with Karate-Jutsu or “Chinese hand art”. This was later changed to Karate-do by Gichin Funakoshi who adopted an alternative meaning for the Chinese character for “Kara”, “Empty”. From this point on the term Karate came to mean “Empty Hand” The Do in Karate-Do means “way” or “path”, and underscores the moral and spiritual elements of the discipline and philosophy of Karate.
In 1921, Funakoshi first introduced Karate to Tokyo. In 1936, at nearly 70 years of age, he opened his own training hall. The dojo was named Shotokan after the pen name he used when he signed the poems that he wrote in his youth. Shotokan Karate is characterized by powerful linear techniques and deep strong stances.
Uechi-Ryu is a traditional Okinawan karate style. It is named after Kanbun Uechi (1877-1948) who, after learning Pangai-noon” (half hard, half soft) in China for 10 years and teaching there for three more, returned to Okinawa. He resumed teaching in Wakayama, Japan, where in 1925 he established a school open to the public. His son, Kanei Uechi, after becoming a Master instructor under his father, was the first to teach foreigners in Okinawa.
The style is characterized by circular blocks and fast strikes. There is an emphasis on open hand techniques and the use of the “shoken” (single knuckle punch) and shomen geri (front snap kick) using the point of the big toe, “sokusen” as a weapon.
The style only has 8 kata, learned at different levels with the last one being learned at 3rd degree Black Belt. It also includes as part of traditional material formal bunkais (kata application exercises) and pre arranged sparring exercises for both kyu (colored) and Dan (Black Belt) ranks.
Uechi-Ryu is also renowned for making use of special breathing and exercises to develop strong body and limb conditioning.
Wado-Ryu is the style practiced by the 3 major groups of Wado; Wado-Ryu, Wado-Kokusai and JKF Wado-Kai. All three style groups are represented in Canada, with the latter two in Alberta. The differences are minor and the skills are easily transferable from one group to the other. H.Otsuka was the founder and everyone trained under him as one big group up to about thirty years ago.
The purpose of Wado-Ryu karate is to train to fight and fight effectively. The style emphasizes control of the centre line of the body, both yours and your opponent’s. Fast and light movements are crucial. Moving off the line of attack, (Teni), turning the body to minimize exposure, (Tentai), and allow the attack to go past while counterattacking at the same time, (Tengi), are the three-in-one (San-mi-ittai), the trinity, of Wado.
The kata and set kihon-kumite of Wado are all designed to help in learning these concepts. Wado does not have extensive Bunkai as in other styles. The purpose of kata is to learn to move correctly.