Shito-Ryu Karate History

In Japan, four traditional styles of karate were formed: Shotokan, Goju-Ryu, Wado-Ryu, and Shito-Ryu.  The style of Shotokan was founded by Gichin Funakoshi. His pen name was "Shoto" so that name was used to name the style he founded. The style Goju-Ryu was founded by Chojun Miyagi. “Go” means hard and “Ju” means soft.  These two ideas and words were combined to name the style he founded. The style Wado-Ryu was founded by Hironori Otsuka. “Wa” means peace and “Do” means way.  So “Wado” means way of peace.


The name Shito-Ryu was created by combining the names of the two masters responsible for the beginnings of the Shito-Ryu style. Shito-Ryu was developed and passed on from Master Ankoh Itosu and Master Kanryo Higaonna. In Kanji, the first two letters in their names spell “Shi” and “To” which are the parts of the name Shito-Ryu. Later, Master Kenwa Mabuni combined them to create the name Shito-Ryu, and formed our style. Born in 1893, Master Mabuni was the 17th generation son of a famous samurai named Onigusuki. In 1929, he moved to Osaka and instructed many students, among them Ruysho Sakagami, who, in turn taught new generations including Genbu-Kai's leader Shihan Fumio Demura


Shito-Ryu is most often described as a combination of Shotokan (a style of linear movements) and Goju-Ryu (a style of more rounded movements). It is also generally known that Shito-Ryu teachers utilize formal exercises (kata) from many Okinawan sources. Unfortunately, such explanations fail to adequately describe just what Shito-Ryu really is, which is much more.