Shitō-ryū (糸東流) is a form of karate that was founded in 1934 by Kenwa Mabuni. A synthesis of various Okinawan schools of martial arts, Shitō-ryū, is primarily practiced in Osaka. Due to both controversies in Kenwa Mabuni's line of succession and Mabuni's extensive efforts to popularize the martial art form in Japan, there exist many successor karate schools that claim Shitō-ryū as an influence.
This emblem has been the family crest for many centuries. The circle symbolizes peace and harmony (Wa), and the two inner vertical lines and two horizontal lines represent the Japanese calligraphy for the word 'person' or 'people.' The emblem, therefore, symbolizes 'people working in peace and harmony.'
His teachers greatly influenced Kenwa Mabuni in the development of his Karate; he also included the interpretation of the interior lines to represent his two primary teachers - ITOSU ANKO and HIGASHIONNA KANRYO.
Kenwa Mabuni14 November 1889 - 23 May 1952
Kenwa Mabuni was one of the first karatekas to teach karate in mainland Japan and is credited as developing the style known as Shitō-ryū.
He began his instruction in his home town in the art of Shuri-Te (首里手) at the age of 13, under the tutelage of Ankō Itosu. He trained diligently for several years, learning many katas from this great master.
One of his close friends, Chōjun Miyagi (founder of Gōjū-ryū) introduced Mabuni to another great of that period, Higaonna Kanryō, and began to learn Naha-te (那覇手) under him as well. While both Itosu and Higashionna taught a 'hard-soft' style of Okinawan 'Te,' their methods and emphases were quite distinct. The Itosu syllabus included straight and powerful techniques as exemplified in the Naifanchi and Bassai kata; the Higashionna syllabus, on the other hand, stressed circular motion and shorter fighting methods, as seen in forms Seipai and Kururunfa. Shitō-ryū focuses on both hard and soft techniques to this day.