Itosu20ankoh20drawingYasutsune (Anko) Itosu was born in 1830 in the city of Shuri in Okinawa.

Itosu is believed to have had a very rough childhood, often being beaten and physically abused by his father. It is believed that his father would tie him up and continually poke him with a stick, this was in order to teach him to have a fighting spirit. This would be reflected later in Itosu`s teachings, as many of the Kata (Forms/Hyung) is thought to have been designed to disarm an attacker brandishing a stick.

In 1901, Anko Itosu was instrumental in getting Karate introduced into Okinawa's schools, with the help from his student Gichin Funakoshi. Itosu`s way was far too brutal for Karate to be learned by ordinary school pupils, so he had to modify it (water it down) so it was easier to learn. So he introduced the `Pyung Ahn` (Korean) `Heian` (Japanese), `Pinan` (Okinawan) forms as learning steps for students, because he felt the older forms were too difficult for schoolchildren to learn. Itosu also took the large `Naihanchi` form and broke it into the three sets: Cho dan, Ee dan and Sam dan.

Anko Itosu was one of the most well known masters responsible for taking the martial arts from being a secretive, behind closed doors martial art, to it being spread to the ordinary people of Okinawa and why his teachings are so important to Karate history.

Anko Itosu had an incredible ability to withstand many hard strikes to his body and he also had tremendous physical strength, with a vice like grip. When he was a young man, he built up a reputation for his fighting prowess by winning several fights with a `one knockout strike` and it was him that popularised this concept within the Karate fraternity.

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