Developed by physician Dr. Tsuyoshi Chitose, Chito-ryu Karate is one of the most unique styles of karate in existence. For nearly 50 years, Dr. Chitose continued to develop his martial arts skills in Shorei-ryu, Shorin-ryu, as well as kobudo, under some of the most famous martial artists in Okinawan history, before founding the Chito-ryu karate-do, now practiced around the globe.
Dr. Chitose was born Chinen Gua, in Naha, Okinawa, on October 18, 1898. Though the Okinawan fighting arts were not taught openly during this era, Dr. Chitose’s family connections allowed him access to the finest teachers in Okinawa. He began his formal karate training under the famous Okinawan White Crane karate master Arigaki Seisho in 1905. In addition to his first teacher, Dr. Chitose continued to refine his martial skill under the guidance of such men as Choyu Motobu, Chotoku Kyan, Hanashiro Chomo, Kanryu Higashionna and Sanda Chinen.
In 1922, the young Chitose moved to Japan, where he attended medical school at the prestigious Tokyo University. Graduating in 1924, Tsuyoshi Chitose spent five years working in a hospital before the Japanese Medical Association made him a full doctor, specializing in obstetrics and gynecology.
Now a doctor with an advanced knowledge of anatomy and physiology, Dr. Chitose continued to refine his martial skills by continuing to train with his earlier instructors (described above). During this time, he trained beside many other martial artists who, like Chitose himself, eventually became legends in the karate world. These men include Gichin Funakoshi (Shotokan-ryu), Kenwa Mabuni (Shito-ryu), Shoshin Nagamini Shorin ryu, Kanken Toyama (Shudo-kan), Yasuhiro Konishi (Ryobu-kai), Chojun Miyagi (Goju-ryu) and Gogen Yamaguchi (Goju-kai).
In 1944, Dr.Chitose made Kumamoto City in Kyushu his home, a provincial city, in which many famous martial artists have resided throughout Japan’s history. In that same year, Dr. Chitose became the Kyushu director for the All Japan Kenpo Karate-do Fukyu-kai.
Backed by 40 years of training and study, Dr. Chitose opened his first dojo in 1946. By 1950, Dr. Chitose retired from medical practice to focus entirely on teaching and studying his art. Renaming his karate group the All Japan Chito-kai in 1952, Dr. Chitose called his style Chito-ryu karate-do, meaning 1000 year old Chinese style, as an acknowledgment of the 1000 years of history, dating back to the Tang Dynasty, which so influenced the development of Chito-ryu. Over the following decades, Chito-ryu eventually spread worldwide.
In 2004, as part of this world-wide growth, a group of the most senior yudansha in the United States Chito-kai, the Shihan-kai, decided to establish their own organization, the Koshin-ha Chito-ryu Karate-do Association.