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Matsumura Itosu Chibana Gusukuma Miyahira  
 
 
 

Anko Itosu
1831 - 1915

 A foremost disciple of Bushi Matsumura, Yasutsune "Anko" Itosu was educated in the Chinese classics and art of calligraphy and held the position of Secretary for the Administrative Office of the Ryukyu Kingdom. His prominent students (Kentsu Yabu, Gichin Funakoshi, Chomo Hanashiro, Chotoku Kyan, Choshin Chibana, Anbun Tokuda, Chojo Oshiro, Kenwa Mabuni, Shinpan Gusukuma) would influence karate-do for many years to come. 

Within the "Ten Articles of Karate," (the letter submitted in 1908 by Anko Itosu, to the education department of Okinawa Prefecture, petitioning the introduction of karate into the regular public school curriculum), essential characteristics of Shorin-ryu are detailed. In Shorin-ryu, natural and relaxed stances and breathing methods are taught along with a unique method of taking in power and releasing it. The practitioner takes in power from inside outward, making concentration of power easy and which, combined with the quickness of movement, increases the force of an attack. 

Ten Articles of Karate
Karate is not of Confucian or Buddhist origin. Shorin and Shorei schools were originally introduced from China into Okinawa. Each of the two styles has its strength, thus both should be retained.

1. You should not practice karate only for the purpose of developing your physical strength. What is essential is to serve your sovereign and your parents at the risk of your life in case of emergency. If you should involve in a fight with a robber or a rough neck by any chance, you should ward off a blow. You should not harm him. 

2. By practicing karate one can develop a strong body and his fists and feet can be used as weapons. Thus if boys are trained in their youths, they will become men of special ability. Such men of martial arts can make contributions to the country as soldiers if need be. When he defeated Napoleon at Waterloo, Wellington said, "Today's victory is the outcome of lad's hard training on a training ground in England." A well put saying. 

3. To master karate in a short time is extremely difficult. The proverb goes that practice makes perfect. If you practice for one or two hours every day, you will not only become physically strong but master the art of karate by the end of three or four years of training.  

4. When you do makiwara-tsuki, keep these in mind: lower your shoulders, chest out, keep your feet and centralize your "ki" on the abdomen. Do the tsuki practice in this manner for one hundred or two hundred times. 

5. When you assume a karate posture, bear these in mind: straighten your back, lower your shoulders, keep your feet, centralize your "ki" on the abdomen and harden the whole muscle of your body in such a way that the whole force is pulled toward the abdomen. 

6. Learn various moves. But study when and how certain moves are applied and then practice the moves. There are many secrets handed down by word of mouth regarding stop moves and counter moves. 

7. Study moves. Consider which move is good for building physical strength and which one is good for kumite.  

8. You should practice karate in the following manor: glare, lower your shoulders, and harden muscles as though you were actually engaged in a fight. Practice in this way, then you will be able to move naturally in case of a hand-to-hand fight. 

9. Do not put too much strain on yourself while you are practicing, otherwise you will get bloodshot and your face will turn red. These are signs of over-practice which will ruin your health in time. 

10. Many karate masters enjoyed longevity in the past. Through karate one can build muscles, promote digestion, improve the circulation of blood. All of these contribute to the long of life. Therefore karate should be introduced into course work as the basis of physical education at the schools. Thus a lot of karate experts will be produced in the future. 

By Anko Itosu
October, the forty-first year of Meiji

This historical article was published in the North American Beikoku Shido-kan Association's "25th Anniversary Celebration Commemorative Journal," July, 2001. Copies of this 128 page publication including historical photos, worldwide Shido-kan dojo listings and other relevant material can be ordered from the Activewear/Catalog section of this web site. See item number AC-38.

Copyright 2002 by the North American Beikoku Shido-kan Association. All rights reserved. No part of this web site may be reproduced or distributed in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the Association and/or author.