Okay, today I wanted to mention a karate style that we don’t hear too much about, Chito-ryu. I first heard of the system around 35 years ago when I was training in the Mililani KAH dojo under Sensei Funakoshi. A black belt karateka from the eastern part of the U.S. had flown in and wanted to train during his two weeks here, enroute to further training in Japan. He was a very nice, well-mannered caucasian gentleman in his 30’s and very easy to talk to. When I asked him what Shotokan school he was from, he had to repeat it a couple of times as I thought I heard Shito-ryu (a well-known style distantly related to Shotokan) and on the second repetition, I realized he’d said Chito-ryu, a system I had not heard of. The second surprise was that he said his instructor was military veteran who had learned the art while stationed in Japan and was teaching the art to interested guys from the neighborhood in his garage. Forgive me, but I had some qualms about the quality of his garage training in a system I’d never heard of, kind of like trying sushi from the nearest 7-11🤔. I really worried about how he would fare in our black belt class that Sensei Funakoshi led personally. Well, he turned out to be a very excellent practitioner who blended in well within the group during the several sessions he spent with us. I learned an important lesson – never judge a karateka by his style or by where he trains.
In subsequent years, I was able to find out more about Chito-ryu. It was founded by a physician, Dr.Tsuyoshi Chitose. He was Okinawan and his last name, before he changed it, was Chinen. His maternal grandfather was the very famous Ryukyu Master Matsumura Sokon. Chitose was also a long-time acquaintance of our founder, Master Gichin Funakoshi. Ironically, the initial attempt to establish a U.S. Chito-ryu Karate hombu (main) dojo was actually here in Hawaii under Sensei Tommy Morita. Below is a nice article from the 1967 issue of Black Belt magazine on Sensei Morita (find the article entitled, “Karate Oddyssey” and how he ultimately moved over to Matsubayashi Shorin-ryu, founded by Master Shoshin Nagamine.
(Ironically, my teacher in Okinawan Kobudo (weaponry) back in the early 1990’s was Sensei Bert Kajitani, one of Sensei Morita’s top disciples.)