Anko Azato (1827-1906) and

Yasutsune Itosu (1830-1915)

Students of Sokon (Bushi) Matsumura were among others the teachers of Gichin (Shoto) Funakoshi, the father of Shotokan Karate Do. At the beginning of the 20th century Anko Azato and Yasutsune Itosu changed the name from Okinawa Te in Kara Te, what as much means as empty (Te) hand (Kara), thus the art of the empty hand, the fight with empty hands, without arms. However, there is yet the philosophical aspect of the martial art Karate delivered from Kushanku to his scholar Shungo (Tode) Sakugawa and forward to his student Sokon (Bushi) Matsumura and from him to his students. Namely the sense of emptiness, to free thyself of all egoistic and selfish feelings, to pursue humbly and courageously thy life aims. Therefore Karate Do does not restrict itself to the training, neither does it begin with the beginning of the training nor end with its end. Karate Do is rather life-task. All aspects of Karate Do, whether of physical, spiritual or philosophical nature, should be practised – and not be trained – the whole life. So is also a fight against yourself, as well as to always try to overcome your own ego a fight which is much more difficult to win than a fight against any opponent.

Your self, the ego, is the toughest adversary. It is this ideological approach which is the fundamental difference between Karate and Karate Do and which hinders extremely the combination with modern sports or competition Karate. But I’ll get back to this later on.

Yasutsune Itosu was the outer scholar of Sokon (Bushi) Matsumura, the technically highly gifted student, whereas Anko Azato the inner student was, technically also talented, but with more tendency to the spiritual and philosophical aspects of Karate Do. So it’s due to Yasutsune Itosu that Karate was introduced 1905 in Okinawian school instruction. Anko Azato however was the much more severe teacher and emphasized immensely more the observance of the Do, the way, the codex, of honour, decency and respect. It was him who created the Dojokun, the code of behaviour, which embodies the soul of Karate Do and comprises the following five rules:


Dojokun of Anko Azato

  1. Hitotsu! Jin kaku kansei ni tsutomeru koto! «First! Strive fort the perfection of your character!» This rule concerns the relation of human beings to themselves.

  2. Hitotsu! Makoto no michi o mamoru koto! «First! Defend the paths of the truth!» This rule concerns the relation of human beings to their environment.

  3. Hitotsu! Doryoku no seishin o yashinau koto! «First! Foster the spirit of efforts!» This rule concerns the implementation of personal life aims of human beings.

  4. Hitotsu! Regi o omunzuru koto! «First! Honour the principles of the etiquette!» This rule concerns the models of behaviour human beings should consider if they want to be understood and accepted by their environment.

  5. Hitotsu! Kekki no yû o imashimuro koto! «First! Refrain from violent behaviour!» This rule concerns the inner stance of human beings to conflict-free, non-violent and pacifistic behaviour.


Anko Azato and Yasutsune Itosu developed together continuously the Kata that were conveyed them by their teacher Sokon (Bushi) Matsumura, namely Tekki, Passai (Bassai), Kushanku (Kanku), Jion, Hangetsu, Wankan, Chinte and Gankaku, and created hence the Kata Tekki Nidan and Tekki Sandan, Bassai Dai and Bassai Sho, Kanku Dai and Kanku Sho as well as Ji’in and Jitte.

The five Heian Kata and the Kata Meikyo, Gojushiho Sho and Gojushiho Dai however are to be attributed to Yasutsune Itosu alone.


Further on, many masters developed their own styles, which were different from each other by the varying philosophical views and interpretations of fighting techniques, for instance:

  • Gichin Funakoshi developed the Shotokan Ryu;

  • Chojun Miyagi the Goju Ryu;

  • Hironori Otsuka the Wado Ryu;

  • Kenwa Mabuni the Shito Ryu.


The Kata Empi, Unsu, Nijushiho and Sochin derive from Tomari Te. Kosaku Matsumora learned the Kata Empi from a Chinese monk named Wanshu and passed it, as well as the Kata developed by himself Unsu, Nijushiho and Sochin to his students Chotoku Kyan, Choki Motobu and Ankichi Aragaki. It was Ankichi Aragaki in particular who continued to further develop the mentioned Kata. Kenwa Mabuni, the founder of Shito Ryu was not only a student of Anko Azato and Yasutsune Itosu, but also of Ankichi Aragaki and significantly involved in the further development of the Kata Empi, Unsu and Nijushiho.

The final touches to the definitive form of these Kata as we know them today however, were given manly by Yoshitaka Funakoshi, also known as and further on called Gigo Funakoshi, the son of Gichin Funakoshi.

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