1405 Ryukyu and China had maintained a close relationship for a long time. At that time, the Ryukyuan ruler was fascinated about martial arts, he requested many Chinese military officials with good techniques to stay at Ryukyu and would make friends with them. He also encouraged people to learn martial arts which led to the popularity of establishing martial arts clubs in Ryukyu.
1429 King Hashi conquered Ryukyu islands and founded the first Sho Dynasty. He was known as Sho Hashi. Private ownership of weapons is banned for the first time in order to secure Sho Hashi’s regime. Such policy spurred the development of unarmed combat techniques in Ryukyu. Ryukyuan learned various forms of boxing during their trading trips to china and many martial arts forms based on Chinese models were practiced on the island. By inspiration from the Chinese kenpo (quan fa) and the empty handed Chinese styles of Fujian White Crane to formulate a new martial arts form named “Ryukyu Hand”.
1609 Ryukyu was seized by the Japanese Satsuma Samurai clan, and Ryukyuan were again banned from carrying any weapons and practicing martial arts. During this time, people could only practice their techniques secretly at night.
1830 Sensei Ankoh Itosu was born in Shuri.
1852 Sensei Kanryo Higaonna was born in Naha.
1867 The policy of banning weapons and martial arts in Ryukyu was abolished by Emperor Meiji. Ryukyu citizens submitted to Japan and could finally enjoy a stable living environment to study and further develop their martial arts.
1870 A Chinese kenpo master from Fujian Nan’an Province came and settled down in Ryukyu. Many martial arts practitioners tried to challenge him but was defeated. They were impressed by his techniques and many of them became his apprentices, including Sensei Ankoh Itosu, Sensei Kanryu Higaonna and Sensei Aragaki. After the death of the master, many of his apprentices started their own martial arts school. In order to memorize the master, they named the technique learned from him as “Tode” (“Tang Hand “).
1873 Sensei Kanryu Higaonna visited Fuzhou of China, learned martial arts, the use of weapons and knowledge of Chinese medicines as well as acupuncture from master Liu Liu Gung (someone said he was “Whooping Crane Fist” master Ryu Ryu Koh).
1879 King Sho Tai abdicated handing Shuri Castle over to the Meiji Government marking the end of the Ryukyu Dynasty and the establishment of Okinawa as a prefecture of Japan.
1889 Sensei Kenwa Mabuni, the founder of Shito-ryu karate, was born in Shuri. At the age of 14, Sensi Mabuni became “Shuri-te” master Sensei Anko Itosu’s apprentice. He trained very hard without taking a day off for several years, learning many kata from this great master. Five years later, Sensei Chojun Miyagi introduced Sensei Mabuni to another great master Sensei Kanryo Higaonna. Sensei Mabuni began to learn “Naha-te” and “South Sholin Qigong” under Sensei Higaonna. At the age of 27, Sensei Mabuni already obtained the quintessence of both “Shuri-te” and “Naha-te” style of karate. He opened a dojo at the back of his house in Ryukyu and started teaching karate.
1929 Sensei Ankoh Itosu and Sensei Kanryo Higaonna died in 1914 and 1915. In an effort to popularize Okinawa martial arts “Tode” in mainland Japan, Sensei Mabuni moved to Osaka. At that time, “Tode” was renamed as “Karate”.
1934 The style taught by Sensei Mabuni was originally named as “Hanko-ryu” (“half-hard style”). He changed the name to “Shito-ryu” to honor his teachers. He derived the name for his new style from the first kanji character from the names of his two primary teachers, Higa(shi)onna and I(to)su. Shito-ryu is the only style of karate contains both Shuri-te and Naha-te kata.
1939 Dai Nippon Butoku Kai officially approved and recognized Karate-do as one of the martial arts disciplines.
1952 Sensei Kenwa Mabuni died on May 23, 1952. Sensei Kenei Mabuni, the eldest son of Sensei Kenwa Mabuni, succeed as the second soke of Shito-ryu.
2015 Sensei Kenei Mabuni died in December 2015. His son Sensei Kenyu Mabuni succeed as the third soke of Shito-ryu.
To this day, Shito-ryu is one of the main branches of karate, it is a combination style, which attempts to unite the diverse roots of karate. Shito-ryu will not only continue to grow in Japan, but also to the world.