Kenji Tokitsu

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Biography

  • was born on August 1, 1947 in Yamaguchi, Japan
  • has lived in France since 1971
  • gained French citizenship in 1991
  • is married and the father of two children



Martial arts background


Born two years after the end of World War II in the south of Japan’s main island, Kenji tokitsu was brought up in a village where traces of bombardment could still be seen. It was a time of poverty and reconstruction in Japan, and violence was everywhere.


At a very early age he was attracted to the Japanese sword, and his favourite game was sword fighting with a shinai (bamboo sword).

When he entered primary school he became interested in Sumo (classical Japanese wrestling), and eventually won the regional championship. He continued with Sumo to the age of 14. Karate also appealed to him, but there were no karate dojos where he lived, so he could only watch older karatekas practicing and try to copy them.
But he was still drawn to the sword and began to practice kendo in 1958, after obtaining a special dispensation to do so, since he was still enrolled in primary school.

At the age of 12 he started middle school and turned out for baseball, quickly becoming an enthusiastic player.
Between the ages of 12 and 14 he was on the baseball and sumo teams and also excelled in field sports (100 metre dash and the long jump).

In 1962 he enrolled at the Toyora Secondary School in the city of Shimonoseki, and there he began to learn Shito-ryu karate at the Nogi Dojo. At the same time he also began judo.

In 1964 he received his 1st Dan in karate.

In 1967 he was admitted to Tokyo’s Hitotsubashi University (equivalent to the HEC in France), where he studied law and then sociology.

He enrolled in the university’s karate dojo where they taught JKA style Shotokan karate.

In 1971 he earned his earned his degree in sociology from the University of Hitotsubashi.

In April 1971 he moved to Paris to train in karate as assistant to the late Master Kasé, while at the same time doing graduate work at the Sorbonne.

He received his 3rd Dan in karate from Master Kasé.

In 1974 he left Master Kasé to become independent, training and studying karate on his own with a small group of pupils.

In 1974 he returned to Japan for a month to train under the direction of Master S. Kubota, a former pupil of G. Funakoshi.

In 1977 he returned to Japan to work again for a month under Master Shozan Kubota, from whom he received his 5th Dan in karate. While there he met the late Master S. Guima, who had studied under Masters A. Itosu and G. Funakoshi, and  learned the classical « Gojûshiho » – a very different kata from Shotokan.

In 1979 Kenji Tokitsu published his first book, entitled « La voie du karaté » (The Way of Karate) (Ed. Seuil Publishers, Paris), where he analysed the structure of martial arts, explaining how it is possible to develop combat skills at a mature age, when a person’s early physical prowess inevitably begins to decline.
This book enabled Tokitsu to gain an outside audience and laid the groundwork for his future school in France. The book appealed to a large number of psychoanalysts and psychiatrists, and during the next decade, he met over forty such specialists who enrolled as students at his dojo in Paris.

In 1979 he obtained his state credentials as a Physical Education Teacher, Specialty in Karate, in Paris. During the exam, he realised that the chief examiner had read his book and had been trying to put it into practice. For Tokitsu this exam session was both surprising and consoling.

In 1980 he made the acquaintance in Japan of H. Tsuchiya, a karate master and researcher into the history of karate. They talked a great deal together about the history of Okinawa karate, giving Tokitsu the chance to learn important information and several classical Okinawa katas.

In 1980 he went to Tokyo to begin studying Yang style Tai Chi chuan (24 movements) under the direction of the late Master Yo Meiji.

In 1981 Kenji Tokitsu made the acquaintance in Paris of Master K. Nishino, who taught him XingYiQuan and BaguaZhang

Startng in 1982, and for the next four years, Tokitsu travelled regularly to Japan to study under K. Nishino. There he learned the Nishino breathing method (a type of Qi Gong)  and the so-called « internal » martial arts : XingYiQuan and BaguaZhang
K. Nishino was the student of the late K. Sawai, founder of Taiki-Ken. Kenji Tokitsu learned Taiki-ken exercises from K. Nishino, including Ritsu Zen.
For the next six years, Tokitsu immersed himself in the practice of Nishino’s breathing method and Taiki-Ken.

In 1982 he met Master R. Matsuda, a pioneer of Chinese martial arts in Japan, who taught Tokitsu Tai Chi Chen, and later Ba-Ji chuan.

In 1982 he earned a Ph.D. in Sociology from the Sorbonne, with a dissertation entitled : “Etude sur le rôle et les transformations de la culture traditionnelle dans la Société contemporaine Japonaise” (Study of the role and transformations of traditional culture in contemporary Japanese society). The dissertation merited a cum laude distinction and was directed by M. Georges Balandier - Université Paris V.

In 1983 Kenji Tokitsu was awarded the 6th Dan in Shotokan Karate by Master Shinkin Guima – Tokyo, Japan.

In 1983, while forming a synthesis of what he had learned so far together with his current research interests, Kenji Tokitsu founded in Paris his own school, known as  Ecole Shaolin-mon Karate-do.  Why Shaolin-mon karate-do ?
Although he was evidently interested in Chinese martial arts, at that time Tokitsu still held karate as the epitome of martial arts. It was in searching for the origins of Okinawa karate that his studies led him inevitably to the Chinese martial arts. He also realised that the main current of Chinese martial arts flowed into Shaolin like a fundamental tributary. And that is why he called his school « Shaolin-mon karate-do » in order to continue progressing with his research.

In 1984 Tokitsu obtained a research grant from the French Ministry of Youth and Sports and from the French Ministry of Research. He then spent three research months in Japan, talking with various masters who enabled him to  gather documents that could help him to clarify the history of karate and compare historical methods with contemporary ones.
Following this trip, he submitted his research report, « Rapport de recherche : M.I.R. »
A book entitled « L’histoire du karate » (Paris, S.E.M. Publishers, January 1994) was the published fruit of this research.

In 1988 Kenji Tokitsu published a new book, « Méthode des Arts Martiaux à mains nues » (Paris, Robert Laffont Publisher, 1988).  Jean Pierre Charbonneau, then a member of the Quebec Parliament, read the book a year later and wrote Tokitsu a long letter. This was Kenji Tokitsu’s first contact with a Canadian from Quebec.

In 1989 he received his 7th Dan Shaolin-mon from the U.I.S.P. (Unione Italiana Sport Per tutti), recognised by the Italian Olympic Committee, in Milan, Italy.

In 1989 he made a research trip to Taiwan, where he studied Tai Chi chuan, XingYiquan and Baguazhang

In 1989 he returned from Taiwan via Japan, where he trained with Master T. Kuroda, of the Kaishin-ryû school,  who taught him Kenjutsu, Iaido and Jujutsu.

For the next five years, Kenji Tokitsu practiced the art of Master Kuroda’s school.

After returning from Japan in 1989, Kenji Tokitsu made the acquaintance of Yu Yongnien, a Yiquan master who had studied directly under Wang Xhiangzhai, the founder of Yiquan. To learn the fundamentals of Yiquan, he went to London, where Master Yu taught him the main Yiquan exercises, particularly ritsu zen).  Kenji Tokitsu was astonished at the precision required in this exercise and at the enormous difference between it and all other health positions he had learned previously.
From that day on he has persevered in the practice of ritsu zen (zhuang zhan in Chinese).

In 1990 Kenji Tokitsu invited masters Wang Xian and Chen Zhenglei to Paris in order to learn their style of Tai Chi Chen.

In 1990 he made his first trip to Beijing to study Yiquan. He stayed at the home of Master Yu for ten days, during which time Master Yu introduced him to his former pupil Guo Guizhi, who taught him different kinds of Yiquan exercises.
Master Yu told Kenji Tokitsu the following story:
« Guo Guizhi became my student in order to cure his stomach ulcer. The ulcer did disappear after a few years, but he wished to go further exploring the scope of effectiveness of Yiquan. So I introduced him to Master Yao, one of the best students of Master Wang. Guo studied under him for twenty years, becoming the best fighter of all Master Yao’s students… »

After returning to France, Kenji Tokitsu continued to practice zhan zhuang (ritsu zen) and began to develop a new fight workout, because through the study of Yiquan, he had discovered the huge deficiencies of the karate method he had learned as a preparation for combat.

At first he worked with boxing gloves, but discovered that they were too voluminous and different from real-life bare-fisted boxing, so he used them for sack punching. He quickly realised that the blows and strikes delivered were strong enough to require the use of a protective helmet. He tested ten different ones until he found the best model, which is the one he uses today. But this is an area in constant evolution.

Following his return from that first trip to Beijing, and for the next dozen years, Kenji Tokitsu trained daily with his students using his fight workout combined with zhan zhuang (ritsu zen) exercises.

In 1991 Kenji Tokitsu published « L’Art du Combat, entretiens avec Kenji Tokitsu » (The Art of Combat, Conversations with Kenji Tokitsu) (Paris, Ed. Trédaniel).

In 1992 he made his second trip to Beijing to further his knowledge of Yiquan. Again he studied under Master Yu and Master Guo. This time, Master Yu introduced him to several other Yiquan masters. Working with them, Tokitsu discovered that there were differences among them in their way of executing and explaining the exercises.

In 1992 Kenji Tokitsu was awarded the 8th Dan in Shaolin-mon  by U.I.S.P. (Unione Italiana Sport Per tutti), recognised by the Italian Olympic Committee – Milan, Italy.

In 1993, he earned a Ph.D. in Oriental Languages and Civilisations with a dissertation entitled « Miyamoto Musashi, maître de sabre  Japanais du XVIIe siècle - le mythe et la réalité, l’oeuvre et son influence » (Miyamoto Musashi, 17th century Japanese sword master – myth and reality, his work and influence), which merited a magna cum laude distinction from the dissertation committee. 
The dissertation was directed by Prof. Jean-Noèl Robert - Université Paris VII.

In 1994 he published « L’histoire du karate » (Paris, Ed. S.E.M.).

In 1996 he met  Dr Yayama and discovered first hand the effectiveness and importance of the Kiko (Qi Gong) method developed by him. Tokitsu began a serious study of the method and incorporated it into his own evolving martial arts method. Starting in 1997, each Kenji Tokitsu has invited Dr Yayama to Europe to direct an international Kiko seminar.

In 1998, Kenji Tokitsu published « Miyamoto Musashi, maître de sabre Japanais du XVIIe siècle » (Miyamoto Musashi, 17th Century Japanese Sword Master) (Ed. Désiris).

In 2000 Kenji Tokitsu founded the Jiseido school.
His Shaolin-mon period had been one of investigation through a study of traditional martial arts starting with karate. Having completed this period of research, Tokitsu made a synthesis of his best technical discoveries, which he combined with the Yayama kiko method.
The result was his new school, Jiseido : « the path of personal martial art practice for self-development ». Jiseido is clearly built on the Yayama method of kiko and the principles of Yiquan.

In 2003 Kenji Tokitsu was awarded the 9th Dan by  Belgium’s Association Francophone d’Art Martiaux Affinitaires et de Self-Défense.

In 2003 he left Paris and moved to a village at the foot of the Pyrenees where he opened his main Jiseido dojo in 2004.

EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND



Martial Art Diplomas


1958 - initiation in kendo
1962 - enrolled in the Nogi Karate Dojo – Chofu, Yamaguchi district
1962 - initiation in judo
1964 - 1st Dan Karate at Yamaguchi, Japan
1966 - 2nd Dan Karate at Hitotsubashi University – Tokyo, Japan
1970 - 3rd Dan Karate at Hitotsubashi University – Tokyo, Japan
1971 - 3rd Dan Karate by Master Taiji Kase – Paris
1973 - 4th Dan Karate by Master Shozan Kubota – Tokyo Japan
1977 - 5th Dan Karate by Master Shozan Kubota – Tokyo Japan. Under the old system of the Shotokan school, which is still in effect in the Josui Shoto-ryû School, the 5th Dan is the highest level attainable.
1979 - State credential as a Physical Education Teacher, Specialty in Karate, in Paris
1983 - 6th Dan Shotokan Karate by Master Shinkin Guima – Tokyo, Japan.
1983 - Founded in Paris the Shaolin-mon Karate-do school.
1989 - 7th Dan Shaolin-mon by U.I.S.P. (Unione Italiana Sport Per tutti) recognised by the Italian Olympic Committee  – Milan, Italy
1992 - 8th Dan Shaolin-mon U.I.S.P. (Unione Italiana Sport Per tutti) recognised by the Italian Olympic Committee  – Milan, Italy
Other martial arts practiced during these same years : judo, ju-jutsu, kendo, tai chi quan, qi gong, da cheng quan
2003 - 9th Dan, Association Francophone d’Arts Martiaux affinitaires et de Self-Défense.

University Degrees

1971 - Degree in Sociology from the University of Hitotsubashi (Japanese equivalent of France’s H.E.C.) – Tokyo, Japan.
1982 - Ph.D. in Sociology from the Sorbonne, with a dissertation entitled  « Etude sur le role et les transformations de la culture traditionnelle dans la Société contemporaine Japanaise » (Study of the role and transformations of traditional culture in contemporary Japanese society). The dissertation merited a cum laude distinction and was directed by M. Georges Balandier - Université Paris V.
1993 - Ph.D. in Oriental Languages and Civilisations with a dissertation entitled « Miyamoto Musashi, maître de sabre  Japanais du XVIIe siècle - le mythe et la réalité, l’oeuvre et son influence » (Miyamoto Musashi, 17th century Japanese sword master – myth and reality, his work and influence), which merited a magna cum laude distinction from the dissertation committee. Dissertation director Prof. Jean-Noèl Robert - Université Paris VII.


BOOKS, ARTICLES AND OTHER COMMUNICATIONS



Books in French

- « La voie du Karate » (The Way of Karate). Ed. du Seuil 1979, republished in 1993. Point sagesse Sa.51.
- « Etude sur le role et les transformations de la culture traditionnelle dans la Société contemporaine Japanaise » (Study of the Role and Transformations of Traditional Culture in Contemporary Japanese Society – develops and analyses the notion of the kata).  Ph.D. dissertation 1982. Université René Descartes - Paris V.
- « Les arts martiaux Japanais : le Karate - structures, techniques et modes de transmission traditionnels et contemporains » (Japanese Martial Arts : Karate – Traditional and Contemporary Structures, Techniques and Modes of Transmission). Research report : M.I.R. and Ministry of Youth and Sports 1984.
- « Méthode des Arts Martiaux à main nue » (Method of Bare-Handed Martial Arts). Ed. Robert Laffont 1988.
- « L’Art du Combat, entretiens avec Kenji Tokitsu » (The art of Combat, Conversations with Kenji Tokitsu). Ed. Trédaniel 1991.
- « Miyamoto Musashi, maître de sabre Japanais du XVIIe siècle - le mythe et la réalité, l’oeuvre et son influence. » (Miyamoto Musashi, 17th century Japanese sword master – myth and reality, his work and influence) Dissertation for a Ph.D. in Oriental Languages and Civilisations – Université Paris VII. June 1993.
- « L’histoire du karate » Paris. Ed. S.E.M. January 1994.


Articles in French

- “La tradition des arts martiaux et la productivité Japanaise” Critique 1983 N°428-29.
- “Structures familiales et sexualité au Japan à l’époque moderne.” Coll. Kenji Tokitsu, C. Bauhain - Cahiers internationaux de Sociologie, Vol . LXXVI, 1984.
- “La transmission des maîtres de karate” Series of 15 articles, Karate-Bushido, 1983-86.
- “L’histoire des maîtres de sabre Japanais” Series of 14 articles, Karate-Bushido, 1988-90.
- “Réflexion sur la technique des arts martiaux” Series of 6 articles, Karate-Bushido, 1990.
- “La pratique du Shaolin-mon : techniques et orientations” Series of 15 articles, Bulletin de l’école Shaolin-mon, 1987- 91.
- “Les méthodes des arts martiaux” Series of 30 articles, Karate-Bushido, 1993-96.
- Articles : “Arts Martiaux”, “Sport”, “Suicide”, Dictionnaire de la Civilisation Japanaise. Ed Hazan, 1994.
- “Le ki dans le combat” Arts Martiaux, Nov-Dec 1995.
- “La longévité de la pratique en karate et en art de combat à main nue” Les cahiers de l’INSEP. N°12-13 - Arts martiaux, sports de combat 1996.


Books in Japanese

- « Kokusaï bunka to shite no Karate » (Karate as International Culture), Ed.Taïshûkan, Tokyo 1992.
- « Budo no hoho josetsu » (Discourse of the Budo Method), Ed. Sojin sha, Saïtama 1993.


Articles in Japanese

- “Nichio hikaku budo-ron” (Comparison between martial arts as practiced in Japan and Europe) - Taiikuka kyoiku (Physical Education journal), Ed. Taïshûkan, Tokyo, November 1980.
- “Sportsu no fûdo to Budo no fûdo” (The social climates of sports and martial arts) - Taiikuka kyoiku (Physical Education journal), Ed. Taïshûkan, Tokyo, January 1984.
- “Budo ni okeru shobu no kozo” (Structure of combat in martial art) – Series of 13 articles - Budo (Japanese martial arts journal) 1984-85, Ed. Nippon budokan, Tokyo.
- “Paris no Dojo kara” (News from the Paris dojo) Series of 12 articles - Fransugo-koza (French texts of televised courses), N.H.K., Tokyo, 1985-86.
- “France no shimin-sportsu jijo” (Recreational sports in France) - Taiikuka kyoiku (Physical Education journal), Ed. Taïshûkan, Tokyo. October 1989.
- “Kakuto seïnen no tameno budoron” (Martial arts theory for young fighters). Karate-do journal. Ed. Fukushodo, Tokyo. Series of monthly articles for 3 years, beginning March 1996.

Books in Italian

- “Lo zen e la via del karate” - translation - Ed. Mondadori, 1980
- “Shaolin-mon, verso l’arte martiale del futuro” – Ed. Grafica Comense, Como, 1990
- “Arte del combattere” - translation - Ed. Luni-Editrice - Milan, 1993
- “Storia del Karate” - Ed. Luni-Editrice - Milan, 1995

Other communications

- Poster for the talk “Pratiques sportives et pratiques sociales” INSEP, Vincennes, March 1978.
- “Les arts martiaux, support d’identité.” Contribution to the “Identity Round Table” UNESCO, Paris, December 1989.
- “Les méthodes externes et internes dans les arts martiaux orientaux” Contribution to the “Day of Reflection on Combat Sports and Martial Arts” 11 May 1992 - CNRS Marseille.
- “La longévité de la pratique en karate et en art du combat à main nue”. Interview by INSEP JORESCAM 8-9 April 1994.
- “Etude de la logique du corps, l’exemple des arts martiaux Japanais” Talk delivered to the Société Française des études Japanaises. December 1994.
- “L’espace dans les arts martiaux” Communication prior to the talk “Matière à Penser” Université René Descartes, Paris V - The Sorbonne, 1-3 July 1996.

Television

- Demonstration and interview for the programme : “Le ki” – Channel 3, 1987.
- Guest on Armand Jammot’s programme : “Dossiers de l’écran” on martial arts, broadcast 19 July 1988.

Radio

- Interview on the programme “Le monde inconnu”, 20 September 1991.
- Interview on the programme “Archipel Médecine”, 24 March 1992 - France Culture.

links

Interesting websites

Rincon del do
Artículos sobre artes marciales en general

Hispagimnasios.com
Best spanish speaking martial arts forum

http://www.tokitsuryu.org
Kenji Tokitsu's official website

http://www.tokitsuryu.com
Tokitsu-ryu Portugal

http://www.dojolello.com
Dojo Lello. Tokitsu-ryu Suiza

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