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Our History

Shito-Ryu is one of the four major karate styles of Japan. It combines the features of the two great traditions of Okinawan and Japanese karate.

"Itosu-Kai" indicates our following of perhaps the greatest master of the last two centuries, Yasutune Itosu (1830-1915).

"Kai" and "Ryu" both mean "style" or "school".

In the later part of the 19th century, the two most famous masters of karate in Okinawa were Yasutune Itosu (1830-1915) of Shuri-te and Kanryo (Higa'shi'onna) Higaonna (1851-1915) of Naha-te.

Kenwa Mabuni (1889-1952) was a student of both of these grandmasters, and originally named his style Hanko-Ryu (half hard style), but out of respect and honour for his two foremost teachers, Mabuni later named his style of Karate "Shito-Ryu", which is formed by combining the kanji (characters) of both names.

The name 'Shito' is the combination of 'shi' and 'to' , the two first characters of the names of Master Itosu and Master Higaonna .

The present leader of our style world wide is Sadaaki Sakagami, Soke 9th Dan. He is the son of the late Ryusho SakagamiSensei, 10th Dan (1915-1992) 3rd Master of Itosu-Kai, after masters Itosu and Kenwa Mabuni (1888-1952). Master Sadaaki Sakagami studied many martial arts, including kendo and kobudo.

Our style came to Canada in 1969, when Shihan Kei Tsumura, 8th Dan, returned from a period of study with Ryusho Sakagami Sensei and established the Canadian Honbu (Headquarters) at the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre in Don Mills, Ontario. Many of Tsumura Shihan's students now run their own clubs in Canada.

All the instructors of our clubs are registered with the All-Japan Itosu-Kai in Yokohama, Japan, and therefore are also registered with the Federation of All-Japan Karate-Do Organization (FAJKO) (an organization of major styles of Japanese Karate) in Tokyo.

Itosu-Kai Karate then, taught in Canada under Tsumura Shihan, is the true classical karate of feudal Okinawa. Not only does it combine the traditions of Okinawan karate (Itosu and Higonna) it is considered in Japan to be the foremost in teaching Kobudo, the use of weapons. And, although rooted solidly in centuries of tradition and grim experience, Itosu-Kai gives plenty of emphasis to the modern innovation of sport karate.

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