Senior practitioners of Chito-ryu karate live under long shadows. First there is enormous shadow cast by founder Tsuyoshi Chitose, a martial arts virtuoso who studied under many masters and synthesized what he learned into his remarkable art.
Master Tsuyoshi Chitose
Then there are the shadows cast by the pioneers who introduced Chito-ryu to their countries and amassed impressive organizations. In North America these larger-than-life figures include Masami Tsuruoka, the Father of Canadian Karate; Shane Y. Higashi, head of the Canadian Chito-ryu Karate Association; and the late William Dometrich, founder of the United States Chito-ryu Karate Federation.
As longtime adherents of this karate style, most of ask ourselves at some point, What we should learn and emulate from these impressive examples?
The answer to this question is complicated. Their dedication, hard work, discipline, compassion and quest to understand are all qualities we should embrace. But how about becoming the supreme leader of a large organization (well, large by karate standards)?
Virtually impossible. The founder of the style and early pioneers introduced their art to mainland Japan and their respective countries at a time when karate was largely unknown. They took advantage of growing public interest in this mystical new martial art to build up classes and followings. You cannot grow by the same leaps and bounds in today's saturated martial arts market.
We sometimes forget that the North American pioneers were all low-ranking black belts when they started teaching. As a shodan or nidan starting out today, you would have little chance of amassing a huge national network unless you were also a protégé of the Tony Robbins school.
This is not to diminish the pioneers' achievement or expertise. As low-ranking black belts they were miles ahead of their new students, who knew nothing. And they maintained this distance over the years as they evolved into their positions, becoming true experts and commanding wide respect.