Ankō Itosu (1831 – 11 March 1915) is considered by many the father of modern karate, although this title is also often given to Gichin Funakoshi because of the latter spread karate throughout Japan.
Pioneer of Modern karate:
Anko Itosu’s teachings are legendary in world martial arts. Along with his Master, Sokon ‘Bushi’ Matsumura, he was instrumental in the development of the Shuri-te style of Okinawan karate.
Itosu can be said to be the first person to practice what would closely resemble the type of Shotokan karate that is practiced today, and was responsible for taking the martial art from being a secretive, behind closed doors art, to being spread to the general public in Okinawa.
Legendary Fighting Prowess – Tomoyose
When Itosu was a young man, he built up a reputation by winning several fights and there are a number of legends about his endeavors that have been handed down to us from an oral tradition.
One story tells of how he challenged an obnoxious bully named Tomoyose who was criticizing the Shuri-te style, calling it “parlour karate”. Itosu was then attacked by Tomoyose’s gang but he quickly dispatched three of them using one knockout blow for each. Tomoyose then decided to attack himself and was also subdued in a similar fashion, being rendered unconscious by Itosu.