The founder (Ryuso) of karate-do Shito-ryu, Kenwa Mabuni was born on November 14, 1889 in Shuri, Okinawa.
He belonged to the 17th generation from one of the bravest warriors of Ryukyu kingdom Kenio Oshiro. Kenwa Mabuni himself was a physically weak child; however, his family members often told him stories about his famous ancestors and he dreamed of becoming physically controlling. At the age of 13, Kenwa was accepted as a studentat the school of the famous karate-do master Anko Itosu, who lived in Shuri. Kenwa Mabuni trained every day, even during typhoons, and within seven years he learned the art of Shuri-karate or Shuri-te.
When Kenwa was 20 years old, he began to study the art of Naha-karate or Naha-te with the Grandmaster Kanryo Higaonna. Later both of these major directions of karate-do of Okinawa formed a basis for Shito-ryu karate-do style created by Kenwa Mabuni.
The year of 1927 was extremely important for Kenwa Mabuni. He met Jigoro Kano, the founder of modern Judo, who arrived Okinawa to open a new judo dojo. Chojun Miyagi and Kenwa Mabuni had an opportunity to demonstrate and to explain Jigoro Kano the techniques of Karate-Do. Jigoro Kano was inspired by Karate-Do and considered it the ideal Budo art for both defense and attack. He talked about the necessity of wide spread of Karate-Do in Japan. Being touched by these inspiration words decided to move to Osaka and to devote himself to development and popularization of karate-do Shito-ryu in Japan.
After World War II Karate-Do clubs began opening one after another in schools and universities. They organized tournaments and prepared the National championship of Japan. During difficult post-war years Mabuni helped to reconstruct Japan by devoting himself to the development and wide spread of Shito-ryu Karate-Do. Unfortunately he had no time to bring his plans to life since he died on May 23, 1952.
The Shito-ryu Karate-Do, created by Kenwa Mabuni, combined the features of Shuri karate of Master Itosu and Naha karate of Master Higaonna. The name Shito-ryu is formed from the first hieroglyphs of names of these Masters ("Ito" - old Chinese hieroglyph "Shi", "Higa" - old Chinese hieroglyph To). While teaching his students and explaining the basic differences between schools Itosu and Higaonna, Kenwa Mabuni paid the most attention to Katas. He believed that Katas, which combine both attack and defense techniques, are the most important part of karate-Do, and that it is necessary to understand the meaning of each movement in the Kata and to perform the Kata correctly. Kenwa Mabuni was the first to introduce the concept of Bunkai kumite and Hokei Kumite, which demonstrated the purpose and showed the correct use for each Kata The final result of proper Kata and Kumite training is the ability to apply karate-do techniques in free Kumite. Practice of Kata also helps to transmit the knowledge encoded in Kata to the subsequent generation. Karate-Do Shito-ryu, unlike other karate-do styles, has much more Katas
According to Kenwa Mabuni the student, ignoring Kata and practicing only Kumite, will never progress in Karate-Do and will never understand its meaning.