Chito-ryu karate-do and health

by Rune Ingebrigtsen.

This is a copy from an article in the Soke Cup 2007 pamphlet.

Chito-ryu karate-do and health

When he started his own style of karate, O’Sensei had more than 30 years experience as an instructor. He had taught schoolchildren and others on Okinawa, and he had taught at several universities and various clubs in Japan. In 1937 he participated in a government appointed committee that was set up to standardize the teaching of karate on Okinawa. In the first Japanese karate Association he worked in cooperation with several masters attempting to standardize karate as one style, but this work was not successful, mostly because of disagreement between the students of Funakoshi and Mabuni. The upshot of all this was the frag- mentation of karate into the many styles or groups that we know today.

In the years before the last world war O’Sensei became more and more skeptical and concerned with the form karate had taken, with the large, dramatic and aggressive movements. With his background in and knowledge of medicine he felt that many of these techniques could be directly damaging to body when a person trained in this fashion over many years.

When he founded his own style he based it mainly on the way he had learned karate in Okinawa, and not on the later versions that had developed in mainland Japan. O’Sensei believed that good karate ought to have more of the natural and flowing movements found in Chinese martial arts, rather than the staccato movements practiced in many karate styles. In his philosophy, karate should help in strengthening both the physical and the psychological health of the practitioner. The techniques of Chito-ryu are therefore based in the long and deep experience he had as a karateka, instructor and medical doctor.

The following are the principles on which Chito-ryu training is based:

1. The training should help in strengthening the heart and circulation. A training session should therefore incorporate at least 30 minutes with high intensity. The speed training as we know it is very important in the context.

2. The stances in Chito-ryu karate shall be natural and not put stress on joints and tendons



The stress is to be carried by the muscle structure. The tension of the muscles is intended to protect the knees and other joints and give quick movement out of the various stances.

3. Kamae is to be open and natural. O’Sensei changed many of the un-natural kamae in different kata.

4. The breeding techniques must be natural and follow the techniques without forced or un-natural deep/heavy breathing.

5. The sequence of techniques and kata will be based on anatomical and physical principles in such a way that it reduces the danger of stress and injuries.

6. O’Sensei utilized theory from other budo arts such as kendo and judo to make the techniques in Chito-ryu effective and natural.

7. Sparring in karate can be dangerous when it is carried out with a lot of intensity. O’Sensei therefore decided that for all such competition in Chito-ryu will be carried out with the protection of a bogu.

O’Sensei was in many ways living witness to, and example of, the philosophy he believed in for karate. Right up until his death at an age of almost 86, he practiced his karate every day.



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