Chito-Ryu in Australia
Chito-Ryu was introduced to Australia by Sensei Vance Prince then 4th Dan (and student of Higashi Sensei, the current honbucho in Canada) in the 1960's. He came to Australia via the SOHONBU (International Chito-Ryu Headquarters) where he spent some time training under O'Sensei. Prince Sensei was later graded to 5th Dan, Renshi before his involvement in the evolution of Australian Chito-Ryu ended.
Amongst Prince Sensei's senior students, were: Bill Ker Sensei, who taught Chito-Ryu in Sydney for many years and was later to be appointed as Honbucho (Chief Instructor) and Chris Brown Sensei who established Chito-Ryu in Lithgow in the Blue Mountains Region in 1976.
In the late 1970's Sensei Bill Ker was appointed President and Honbucho of Chito-Ryu in Australia. He later gained the rank of 4th Dan. In early 1991 he retired from active involvement in the style. Ker Sensei still continues to train and in recent years has participated in Chito-Ryu events, while his youngest son Shane Ker Sensei teaches Chito-Ryu in Sydney.
On the retirement of Ker Sensei, Sensei Brian Hayes was appointed President and Honbucho by Soke Chitose. Hayes Sensei began his training in Lithgow as a student of Brown Sensei. Before long he moved to Newcastle with work, but in order to help continue his own training, he also established a Chito-Ryu dojo.
In the roles as Honbucho, he made many trips to Japan to train with Soke Sensei and other senior Chito-Ryu instructors as he progressed through the ranks to 6th Dan, Renshi. As his dojo grew and he enjoyed many successes in the field of sports karate, producing many successful karate athletes.
In November 2004, Sensei Michael Noonan was appointed to represent Soke Sensei and the ICKF in Australia as Honbucho. In early 2005, a majority vote of the voting members (most of whom were students in Hayes Sensei's dojo) of the Australian Chito-Ryu Karate Association (ACKA) voted that the ACKA become independent of the ICKF and Soke Sensei. A few months later Hayes Sensei's group created a new style that he called Chitokai.
Meanwhile, all dojo instructors outside of the Newcastle region, and Hayes Sensei's most senior student in his dojo, Greg Field Sensei decided to form a new organisation to continue the Chito-Ryu tradition in Australia and follow the teachings of O Sensei under the guidance of his son, Soke Sensei, who is the current head of the ICKF.
Noonan Sensei began his training as a student of Bill Ker Sensei and as a teenager made his first training trip to Japan, something which he continues to do an a regular basis to this day. He is currently 5th Dan, Shihan and teaches at the “Tasseikan” dojo in Oatley, Sydney and regularly travels to Japan to further his study of Chito-Ryu under the guidance of Soke Sensei. As Honbucho, Noonan Sensei guides the technical direction of Chito-Ryu in Australia by working closely with teachers in his region of Sydney/Newcastle and the Regional Head Instructors.
Mark Snow Sensei (currently 4th Dan, Shidoin), is the Regional Head Instructor for the Blue Mountains and Western NSW Region. Snow Sensei began his training as the student of Dave Hawken and
Andrew Connolly and is very proud to continue as a custodian of the Chito-Ryu tradition in Lithgow. In 2007 he established a permanent headquarters for Chito-Ryu dojo in Lithgow in 2007, 30 years after the first Chito-Ryu dojo was opened in that town.
Martin Phillips Sensei (currently 4th Dan, Shidoin) is the Regional Head Instructor for the South East Queensland Region. Phillips Sensei was formerly a student of Hayes Sensei, who moved up to the Sunshine Coast in 2000 with his then, soon to be wife Sandra (currently 3rd Dan, Shidoin) to establish Chito-Ryu's first Queensland dojo in Maroochydore.
In addition to senior instructors who continue to travel to Japan to train, we are very fortunate in Australia to have a close relationship with the Sohonbu. For many years, Soke Sensei and Tanaka Sensei visited Australia on alternate years to teach in all regional dojos and at the national training camp held each year.