"Itosu-ryu Karatedo International Federation preserves all the orthodox katas
which were passed down from Master Anko Itosu to me without any alternation."
by 4th Soke, Sadaaki Sakagami
Itosu-ryu karatedo stems from the lineage of Shuri-te master Sokon Matsumura (1798-1890). It was founded by Anko Itosu (1830-1915), who is popularly regarded as one of the fathers of karatedo.
Anko Itosu further developed and refined tode-jutsu, a form of self-defense, into a form of physical exercise suitable to be included in the physical education curriculum. At the same time, he changed the focus from being a means of combat to being a means of character development.
Anko Itosu also created many kata, including the five Pinan kata, which are the most widely practiced kata in the world today. In some schools they are known as Heian kata.
Of all his students, his senior student, Kenwa Mabuni (1889-1952), learned Anko Itosu's kata most accurately and succeeded him as the 2nd Soke of Itosu-ha. Kenwa Mabuni also studied under Kanryo Higaonna of Naha-te. Taking the first characters of his two teachers' names and founded Shito-ryu ("Ito" also read "Shi" and "Higa" also read "To").
Kenwa Mabuni passed on the Itosu-ha lineage to his senior student Ryusho Sakagami (1915-1993). It was Kenwa Mabuni's wish to pass down the name and the legacy of his teacher Master Anko Itosu to the next generation. Thus Ryusho Sakagami became the 3rd Soke of Itosu-ha on January 2nd, 1952.
In April 1969, Ryusho Sakagami officially renamed his style of karate Itosu-ryu to distinguish it from "Shito-ryu," and called his organization Japan Katatedo Itosu-kai.
Sadaaki Sakagami, the first son of Ryusho Sakagami, succeeded him to the position of the 4th Itosu-ryu Soke and has cherished the traditional kata that have been preserved over three generations, and is eager to spread it.
Karatedo is said to start and end with kata, and in Itosu-ryu we mainly focus on the traditional kata and study techniques and applications to use in practical situations.
The long history and techniques of Itosu-ryu karatedo were so acknowledged that Japan Kobudo Association (Japan Ancient Martial Arts Association) admitted the entry of Itosu-ha in 1979, and it was the only karate organization in this association.
With the internationalization of karatedo, our school also aims to develop intercultural relationships and understanding throughout the world. To this end, we formed an international organization called Itosu-ryu Karatedo International Federation (IKIF) in August 2002 comprising 16 countries. IKIF now has about 25 member countries.
Shito-ryu was established and based on the characteristic techniques of "Shuri-te Itosu-ha" and "Naha-te Higaonna-ha". It is clear that Itosu-ha made a major contribution to the development of some basic techniques of Shito-ryu.
Training of Shito-ryu begins with learning techniques of "Itosu-ha". When a student develops technical expertise to a certain level, he/she then starts practicing techniques descended from "Higaonna-ha". Then later, the student is required to combine the techniques of Itosu-ha and Higaonna-ha. First mastering Itosu-ha techniques makes it easier to learn Higaonna-ha techniques.
Students must study both styles with the understanding of their distinctive characteristics. "Itosu-ha" is famous for light and quick movement and combination techniques, while "Higaonna-ha" is famous for large and powerful techniques. However, techniques should not be a halfway mixture of Itosu-ha and Higaonna-ha.
Itosu-ryu practitioners are aware of the fact that our techniques are based on Shito-ryu, but we are preserving all of the kata of the Itosu-ha lineage, which were directly passed down from Master Anko Itosu to Master Kenwa Mabuni to Master Ryusho Sakagami to Master Sadaaki Sakagami, and these are the old and orthodox techniques. Such is the nature of Itosu-ryu.
We also strive for perfection of techniques descended from both Itosu-ha and Higaonna-ha.
1. Hitotsu, Reisetsu wo omonzuru koto.
2. Hitotsu, Tadashii kokoro wo motte seiken to suru koto.
(Keep the heart pure and the fist sacred)
3. Hitotsu, Kageki naru gendo koui wo tsutsuhimu koto.
(Refrain from inappropriate speech and conduct)
4. Hitotsu, Ai shinjite wasuru koto.
(Trust one another and keep harmony)
5. Hitotsu, Kyudo no seishin wo okotarazaru koto.
(Maintain the spirit along the road to the perfection)