Although the exact origins of the martial arts are not clear, there are numerous records of the development of Chinese boxing and early Karate in the 14th to 17th centuries. As well as China, this development occurred in other parts of Asia including Taiwan and India. Travellers to Okinawa gradually spread the teaching of martial arts to that island and later to the Japanese mainland.
The lineage chart below shows the main descendents of the Shorin-ryu (or Shuri-te) masters. The other main lineage relates to the Shorei-ryu (or Naha-te) group. Another group that is less known is Tomari-te. This group was gradually absorbed by Shuri-te and Naha-te.
The past masters listed below often studied from each other and from other masters including teachers from China/Taiwan and from Naha-te. Therefore, although Masters Itosu and Toyama were the principal ancestors of Kei Shin Kan, there are other masters who influenced the development.
Master Anko Itosu
Master Itosu was born in the city of Shuri, Okinawa in 1830. He became a student of Master Sokun Matsumura at age 16 and at some stage was a student of Master Sokun Matsumora (of Tomari-Te).
It is generally regarded that in the 19th century, Master Itosu was the father of the Shuri system, just as Master Higaonna was the father of the Naha system.
Master Itosu developed Karate-Do into a system that was more appropriate to teach to beginners. For example, he developed the Heian Kata (also known as Pinan) from the more complicated Bassai and Kanku Katas. He also created the Tekki Katas which are linked to the Naha system of strong stance and movements.
A number of students of Master Itosu later developed other schools of Karate-Do. These include Masters Toyama, Funakoshi, Mabuni and Yabu.
Master Itosu died in 1915.