Yasutsune 'Anko' Itosu (The Sacred Fist)
Yasutsune 'Ankoh' Itosu 糸洲 安恒 (1830-1916) was born in Shuri and became one of the most respected martial artists in Okinawa during the 19th century. Master Itosu was a student of Sokon Matsumura, Kosaku Matsumora & Nagahama Chikudon Peichin. One of his great contributions to the art of "To-De" or karate, was the firm belief of the importance of the development of person's character through the concentration on 'Kata', form patterns, and 'Bunkai', application practice. Master Itosu, is quite possibly the most influential teacher in Shorin-Ryu, expanded Shorin-Ryu by adding the Pinan kata's' as well as Naifanchis' Nidan and Sandan.
When he first began teaching in the school system, the introduction of the kata Naihanchin was his preferred way to teach. He soon realized that this kata was far too advanced for the beginner, which lead to master Itosu creating a group of new kata, the Pinan's. The creation of 5 Pinan (alternate read as HEIAN) kata was based on the kata called Kusanku and some other significant techniques. He also split both the Kusanku and Bassai kata's' into the Sho and Dai versions.
In circa. 1901, master Itosu was the first person to introduce 'To-De" into the Okinawa Dai Ichi Jr. High School and the Okinawa Teachers Jr. College school system. This was a critical step in the expansion of the martial arts since prior to this, the art of "To-De" was considered a "secret" art. This introduction into the mainstream quite possibly may have paved the way for the availability for ALL styles of the martial arts to reach the general public. Master Itosu also organized and systemized "To-De" into a standard method of practice.
Yasutsune Itosu was also a great influence on Funakoshi Gichin in his training.
Itosu was known throughout Okinawa for wrestling a charging bull to the ground with his bare hands, holding it to the ground until it was tied and taken away. He had trained his body to withstand repeated blows, and it is told that he regularly allowed his students to strike him while sipping drinks, apparently showing no signs of pain. Also he was one of the first Karate Masters to demonstrate his skills in Okinawa in early 1900.
The Heian (Pinan) Kata are not fighting kata but used mainly for leaning basic combinations and gym training.
Updated: Friday, 10 September 2010