H. F. Ito

H. F. Ito (1942 – 2023)
Shintaido Master Instructor, 5th Dan Shintaido Karate, Kenjutsu, and Bojutsu

Haruyoshi Fugaku Ito was born in Hiroshima, Japan in 1942. He was three years old in 1945 and survived the atomic bombing of Hiroshima because his family had taken shelter in the nearby countryside. As a young boy he experienced post-war Hiroshima and the U.S. Occupation. The injustice he experienced motivated him to study law in college, in the hope of gaining tools to help others. He attended Chuo University in Tokyo, and graduated with a degree in law. While at the university, he began training in Shotokai Karate with Shigeru Egami, and at 21, was awarded the top Shotokai rank of 5th Dan.

In the 1960s, following Shigeru Egami’s wishes, Ito studied closely with Hiroyuki Aoki, the founder of shintaido. Ito became one of the founding members of the Rakutenkai group, researching methods for creating a unified martial art – sogobudo. In 1970 Ito founded the Sogobudo Renmei, which became Shintaido Kyokai.

In 1975, Ito moved to San Francisco and co-founded Shintaido of America with future Master Instructor Michael Thompson. Students included but not limited to: Jim Sterling, Kazu Shibao, Thomas Abbott, Bela Breslau, Pam Olton, and Barbara Barnard.

Having studied Amma/Shiatsu and Meditation from masters Egami and Aoki as part of his traditional martial arts training, Ito shared his understanding a trainer and consultant with Amma Institute, the Touch Pro Institute, L’Attitude in Quebec, Canada, and the Wellness Resource Center in Dartmouth Massachusetts. He was also a founding faculty member of the American School of Japanese Arts in Santa Rosa.

Starting in 1981, Ito became the emissary of shintaido and began to travel the world. He led workshops in Japan, United States, Canada, Mexico, Great Britain, France, Germany, Sweden, Finland, Belgium, Switzerland, Italy, and Australia. In addition to teaching martial arts, he lectured on the history and philosophy of Japan and on intercultural communications between the East and the West.

In 1982, under Ito’s leadership, Bela Breslau and a group of senior Shintaido of America students translated and published Hiroyuki Aoki’s book Shintaido: The Body is a Message of the Universe.

In 1989, the first workshop in Quebec was held. Ito continued to visit annually to this region of Canada.

In 1995, he designed a stress reduction program for the Hospice by the Bay in San Francisco and taught Shintaido Meditation workshops for the hospice caregivers for the next ten years. In 1997, he was invited to the National Hospice Conference in Atlanta, Georgia, at which he presented a shintaido meditation process for the hospice caregivers to use in their work and for self-care.

In 2001 Ito founded the Global Taimyo Network for Peace. Later the name was changed to Global Taimyo Community (GTC). In August 2021 the group gathered to mark its 20th anniversary, connecting globally in real-time via Zoom. The GTC has met virtually in community, with three to four meetings each year. GTC joins in a multi-lingual space participates in language-specific small group discussions, and invites those familiar with Taimyo Kata to join in.

In 2006, Stephen Billias and Bela Breslau founded the Shintaido Farm in Deerfield, Massachusetts. In June 2006, when Ito came to the Shintaido Farm to teach the Shintaido Sans Frontieres workshop, he gave the dojo a name: Tenshinkan, which means “Heavenly Truth Building”. Later he presented calligraphy by Aoki Sensei of the new name.

In 2006 Ito was hospitalized after a severe stroke. With his characteristic determination he found his own way to rehabilitate and recover his body. After this experience, he understood that physical limitations need not be a barrier to the practice of body movement and adapted forms to make them more accessible. He led seminars in shintaido, Life Exercise, Amma massage, Wu style Tai Chi, Qi Gong, and Conflict resolution, in the United States and Canada, throughout Europe and in Japan. Ito was as a student of life – he modeled continuous learning for his students and friends, and he molded the practice of Yokitai Shintaido in his later years, rooted in his work with his own aging body.

In 2007 Ito and Masashi Minagawa traveled to Nanjing, China to attend an international conference on the Nanjing Massacre that his friend, Kazuaki Tanahashi had co-organized. This Nanjing trip was an apology trip, with Ito and other Japanese nationals expressing their heartfelt desire to make amends for the atrocities of World War II. There is a 32 min. video interview about the Nanjing trip with Ito and Masashi Minagawa, with versions in English as well as subtitled in Japanese and French. (see footnotes for link to the YouTube playlist)

In 2016, with Minagawa and the International Technical and Examination Committee (ITEC), Ito introduced the Shintaido Kenjutsu Program. That same year Ito’s book Ito Geidan was published by Shintaido of America.

March 2020 was the start of the COVID epidemic that suspended travel and in-person keiko. Ito adapted to teaching via Zoom, learning and incorporating new modes for sharing shintaido. In the summer of 2021, Ito and Minagawa provided high-level examinations using Zoom and videos.

In September 2022, Ito traveled for the last time to Quebec Canada. While there, he named the dojo, owned by Carole and Denis, as Tai-Kan-Do <大観堂 > or “Hall of the Great Overlook”. Tai-Kan is a kind of pun in Japanese, since the same pronunciation can be written both as 大観, which can be translated into English as “Great Overlook / Great Overview / Great Anticipation” and also as 体感 or “Bodily Sensation.”

In January 2022 the book Shakunetsu: Chronicles of the Creation of Shintaido, a Japanese Martial Art, by Pierre Quettier was first published in French. Following it’s release, Ito coordinated an English-language version which was released in August 2023. A group of five shintaido practitioners (Peter Furtado, Nancy Billias, Lee Seaman, Lee Ordeman, and Pierre Quettier) undertook the editing and proofreading of the English version.

On Dec 30, 2023 H.F. Ito died peacefully at home in Cuy, France. He is survived by his wife, Nicole Beauvois, his sister Hiroko and his brother Yoshitaka Ito.


Shintaido: The Body is a Message of the Universe, by Hiroyuki Aoki  -English Translation
Available through SoA Store (current 2024)

Ito Geidan by Haruyoshi Fugaku Ito (Author), Kazuo Hokari (Author), Patrick Bouchaud (Editor), Pierre Quettier (Foreword), Andrew Stones (Contributor), Kirk Steers (Contributor)
Available through Amazon (current 2024)

Shakunetsu: Chronicles of the Creation of Shintaido, a Japanese Martial Art, by Pierre Quettier
This book is available in print in English and on Kindle in French through Amazon (current 2024)

Deep Bow Journey to Nanjing – video available on YouTube
This playlist has the English version as well as a versions subtitled in Japanese and in French

Interviews on YouTube related to the Shakunetsu book – including an interview with Ito sensei

Visit the SoA YouTube channel to find interviews, captured moments, and general teachings from Ito Sensei (and others)

The Global Taimyo Community website tells more about this group and its current and past activities.

Ito’s Day Street Dojo website is a wealth or articles and collected information.