The Fruits of his Unprecedented
Ryu possesses martial arts techniques which balance
the strengths and weaknesses of Naha-te and Shuri-te; both
originating from the martial arts of the To (T'ang) Dynasty
in ancient China, incorporating its Kata and developed in
Okinawa, and (is) based on physiological/surgical medicine.
Chito Ryu has a duty to aim for
the healthy growth of the youth who will take over in the next
generation. Despite the original style of a direct-attack type
karate, from its inception the use of protective gear was mandatory
at Chito Ryu competitions.
The Founding Soke - Gochoku Chitose
and the Chito-Kai Path
Gochoku Chitose was born in 1898
in Kumochi, Okinawa. He was a delinquent boy who broke things
and did things he was told not to do.
The Gochoku began To-De at the
age of 7 years under the tutelage of Aragaki
Seisho, a 5th generation instructor. Aragaki, an expert in
Naha-te, did not accept students readily, but Gochoku's family
had been involved in the martial arts for generations, and because
of this heritage he was accepted as a student.
Although he is not well known in
mainland Japan, Aragaki-Ou was a grand master of Naha-te and
well known in Okinawan martial arts circles; Higaonna Kanryo
was one of his disciples. Incidentally, Gochoku is a junior disciple
(deshi in Japanese) of Kanryo, and he was a good friend of Chojun
Miyagi, the founder of Goju-Ryu.
As part of the training in To-De,
Aragaki-Ou made his students do quite unique and unusual exercises.
For example, there was leaping from bent tree branches, running
on the surface of coral, jumping up while immersed in water to
the shoulders, and so on. The purpose of these exercises may
have been to develop a sense of balance, speed and springiness
in the body; however, Gochoku worked hard at these exercises
without really realizing their purpose.
Under the tutelage of Aragaki-Ou,
Gochoku was trained in Sanchin, Koryu (classic) kata and Bo-jutusu,
etc.; at the same time he also trained in Shuri-te. Today it
is unthinkable that one would learn the techniques of two totally
different schools such as the more profound 'Naha-te' whose development
was centered in Naha City, and the nimble and swift form of 'Shuri-te'
which had its development centered in Shuri City, and at a time
when much discord existed among the different schools and groups.
But it was not totally unusual at that time, especially in Okinawa.
To extend one's knowledge is to heighten oneself, which is considered
to be natural for anyone studying the martial arts. Those were
the good old days.
Why did Gochoku want to learn not
only Naha-te but also Shuri-te? The one purpose was to redress
the strengths and weaknesses of both systems. Gochoku possessed
especially strong interest in the martial arts. It was almost
as if he was born that way.
In fact Gochoku had many teachers
in addition to Aragaki Ou, and so learned a variety of skills.
From Shuri, CHINEN Sanda Ou,
with OSHIRO Chomo and FUNAKOSHI Gichin (the founder of Shoto-kan
Ryu and Gochoku's elementary school teacher) he learned Bojutsu.
From Shuri, KINJO Ou, with
CHIBANA Chosun who was an expert of Okinawa Karate-do, learned
Torite Taiho. (literally translated 'receiver-arrest')
From HIGAONNA Kanryo Ou, with
friend Miyagi Chojun, learned Kata Saihawah (Saifa), Se-pai,
Kururunhawah (Kururunfa), Tensho.
From Shuri, MOTOBU Choyu, he
learned Kata Unsu, Wansu.
From KIYAN Chotoku Peichin
he learned Kata Chinto, Kusanku, and with Aragaki Ankichi
he learned Passai and Ananko. Part
1 Kyan Bio Part
2 Kyan Bio
From HANASHIRO Chomo he learned
From Naha, Kurumai Mura, KOJO
Ou and MAEZATO Ou he learned Sai, Nunchaku, Tonfa, Tsuken
Gochoku also learned Judo.
Gochoku's martial arts titles are
Chito-Ryu Ju-Dan Hanshi, Kendo Roku- Dan, Judo Go-Dan, etc. There
are countless more titles if Kobudo and so on are included.
Gochoku worked especially hard
at becoming skilled. To polish his skills may be too simple an
expression. Gochoku may have been eager and driven just to become
There are some anecdotal stories
about Gochoku when he was in the full vigor of his youth. Tsuji
in Okinawa is well known as a location for field competitions;
this is where those who are confident of their own skills fight
each other. Gochoku went around looking for those who claimed
themselves to be the strongest, and brought them to this location
and challenged them at Kakedameshi (field competitions).
Some of these challengers were
expert kama users, while others were Chinese martial arts experts.
Whenever he challenged these people, he always won. Soon he became
famous as Challenging Chinen among those in his sphere. (Chinen
is his Okinawan family name.)
Well, how strong was he really?
He was about 170 cm tall, and because he was slim he was good
at kicking techniques using his foot and toe strength as well
as adept at jumping techniques. Although he was slim in build,
he had great body strength because he had trained using the traditional
Okinawan body training method using techniques such as bottle
gripping, using iron geta, etc. He was said to be able to grab
onto ceiling beams with his fingers and maneuver around, and
that he was able to hang from the ceiling using his toes. It
was also said that he was able to move or hide his testicles
in his abdomen, a process called 'Kuh-ga'.
Even taking into account that some
of the above claims are exaggerated, the numerous scars on his
body which were observed by his students in his later years,
leaves no doubt that he was called the Challenging Chinen.
Off to Tokyo
In 1922 Gochoku went to Tokyo to
study as a medical student. After graduation he practiced medicine,
but he also taught (at the Shoto- kai) at Funakoshi Gichin's
Yotsuya Dojo to the oldest son, Yoshiei, Otsuka Hiroki, Konishi
Yasuyuki and Nakayama Tadatoshi, etc.
However, Challenging Chinen was
not satisfied being only a physician and teacher of martial arts.
He was always full of fighting spirit. As an example......
One day the question was raised
of who was the strongest person in Japan. As soon as someone
replied that is was Nakayama Hiromichi of kendo fame, Gochoku
was off to Nakayama's dojo. "What do you want?" asked
Nakayama. Gochoku replied "I am here to challenge you." They
agreed to a confrontation, with Nakayama holding a Japanese sword
and Gochoku with only his empty hands. "I will give him
one of my arms, but instead...", Gochoku who thus made up
his mind emitted bloodthirstiness (commitment? J.S.).
Nakayama who sensed it also showed death in the air. The two
stared at each other for about an hour, each unable to make the
first move. Each knew that one of them moved, then one would
die; they recognized each other's skills and later became good
Master of the Yosei-Kan
For some reason, after the War
Gochoku decided that he would never again set foot in Tokyo and
moved to Kumamoto. In March 1946 he opened the karate-judo Yosei-kan
in Kikuchi City, Kumamoto. This is the headquarters of the Chito
Gochoku lived his life as the consummate
martial artist, honing his skills and strengthening himself,
and became the master of a dojo at the age of 46. He stopped
being a physician, and took on students and dedicated his life
In 1948 Gochoku became the director
of the Kyushu headquarters of the All Japan Ken-po Karate-do
Fukyu-Kai (promotional group) (as an aside, the directors of
this Kai in the Tokyo and Kansai headquarters were Funakoshi
Gichin and Mabuni Kenwa, respectively). During this period when
Gochoku encountered fights between the occupation forces and
locals, he tried to stop them, but instead he wound up knocking
everyone down. These unfortunate incidents turned out to be a
blessing in disguise, because instead of getting into trouble,
it ended up that the occupation forces recognized his skills.
Gochoku immediately became a karate instructor at the Shimizu
camp in Kumamoto where American forces were stationed, and so
taught many foreigners. Some of the American soldiers were confident
of their wrestling and boxing training often challenged Gochoku
who was rather small in stature. In any event, Gochoku still
possessed the fighting spirit, and took on each challenger in
turn and beat them all. This was further proof of his strength,
and resulted in strengthening of trust.
Chito Ryu is now widely spread
throughout the world, due mainly to Gochoku's instruction of
the American occupation forces.
Growth of Chito Ryu Karate-do
In 1952 Gochoku named his own group
the All Japan Chito Kai, and its technical style as Chito Ryu
Karate-do. Chito means that its origin is in the ancient Chinese
martial arts and has a long history and tradition going back
hundreds and even thousands of years.
Needless to say, Chito Ryu Karate-do
is the fruit of Gochoku's long years of constant effort, training
and experience. Chito Ryu is the accumulation of Gochoku's ideals
and beliefs. Let us analyze Chito Kai and Chito Ryu Karate-do
from the point of view of Gochoku's ideals and beliefs.
Gochoku had considerable fighting
experience. Therefore, the karate-do which Gochoku aims for is
the actual fighting and martial art spirit. "Sun dome" (stopping
just before making contact) is not favored. The object of karate-do
is to make contact and with this contact the zest of karate-do
can be experienced.
But at the same time, because he
had a lot of fighting experience, he was well aware of the dangers
of actually using the karate techniques. This troubled him greatly
and gave considerable thought to safe ways of hitting. The result
was his idea of using protective gear.
Fighting with protective gear may
make it safer, but on the other hand, the actual fighting experience
will not be as authentic. Hitting and kicking will not become
reality until it actually happens, and even when one makes an
accurate hit, one will not know if the opponent will fall. If
protective gear is used, the movements will be slowed down. Safety
and actual fighting do not mix together well. However, except
for someone like myself, for the general public, for young people,
is actual fighting necessary? Even if protective gear is used,
if one actually hits, it is better than not hitting at all, although
it is not the same as actual fighting.
The conclusion reached by Gochoku
was the regulation to use protective gear for competitions. Why
did Gochoku, who spent much time as a wild fighter, come to regard
safety as so important?
He was once a physician, and also
considered becoming a lawyer. The blood in his body was not only
animal-like with aggressive fighting instincts, but also contained
a strong base for seeking social justice. These two seem incompatible,
but can it not be considered that inside the martial artist who
has been constantly training for so many years, the different
ideals can co-exist within?
Karate-do Based on Anatomic Physiology
Many aspects of Chito Ryu Karate-do
are based on anatomic physiology that Gochoku added because of
his experiences as a physician. For example, there is 'Seisan
Tachi' which is the posture of standing, and the stretching forward
and backward of 'Sanchin Dachi', which decreases the likelihood
of damaging the hip area than Zenkutsu dachi and Kokutsu dachi.
Furthermore, Zenkutusu dachi and Kokutsu dachi can only be effective
for one-on-one fighting, with the latter effective for one to
many fighting cases. After careful consideration of these points,
Gochoku concluded that Seisan Dachi was an important standing
posture, and in Chito Ryu this is often used in Kata and Kumi-te.
Also, there is Niseishi and Sanchin-kata,
where both arms are positioned at mid level (kata-uke). He regarded
the original kata had the danger of pressing on the heart, so
he said that the arms should be spread apart more.
Thus, Gochoku gave consideration
not only to the safety of the opponent, but also in kata, and
changed the original karate. As seen in Seisan Dachi, these changes
are still based on actual fighting.
Chito Ryu Karate-do considers not
only Kumite, but actual fighting is emphasized. Kata is also
regarded as important, and the teaching of it is promoted. As
mentioned above, Gochoku learned both Naha-te and Shuri-te, and
sought his own karate-do by considering the strengths and weaknesses
of both forms. Thus, the Kata of Chito Ryu that is taught contains
aspects from both Naha-te and Shuri-te.
Gochoku developed Chito Ryu as
an actual fighting karate based on safety, and at the same time
made it a dignified form of karate whose long history and tradition
originated in the To (T'ang J.S.) Dynasty of ancient China.
After the Passing of the Founding
Second Soke Continues Tradition
'Wa-nin' ----Endure and be
'Riki Hittatsu'--- With hard
work one will succeed
These are the sayings that Gochoku
favored in his later years. Gochoku used them as his foundation,
and for Chito Ryu Karate-do he constantly talked of healthy growth
of youth, contribution to society and friendship in the world.
He was not only the founder of
Chito Ryu; Soke became the friend of many in the martial arts
area such as Miyagi Chojun and Nakamura Shigeru of Naha-te, Takano
Sasaburo of Kendo, Nakamura Hakudo of Iai- do, Kano Jigoro and
Mifune Kyuzo of Judo, and he also contributed greatly to making
the traditional Okinawan martial art a Japanese martial art.
He passed away on June 6, 1984 in Kumamoto City at the age of
At present his son Yasuhiro is
the 2nd generation Soke. With Wa-nin and Riki Hittatsu as the
basis, he spends his time training and honing skills with all
instructors and students in Japan and around the world.