The Hunter Valley Martial Arts Centre has a strong sense of heritage and tradition through its links to the karate method of Chito-Ryu which was introduced into Australia in the 1970’s. In 1991, Sensei Brian Hayes was appointed as hombucho, or Chief Instructor, of the Australian Chito-Ryu Karate Association, with the headquarters at the Hunter Valley Martial Arts Centre in Warners Bay.
The club was active and very successful in international competitions, and sent large squads to the Soke Cup, or Chito-Ryu International championships, in 1989, 1992, 1995, 1998, 2001 and 2004. The Newcastle Chito-Ryu Karate Association also hosted the Soke Cup in 1992 and 2004, and remains the only club outside of Japan to have done so on two occasions. Many students today enjoy representation in NSW and National squads in the AKF and ISKA formats and the Hunter Valley Martial Arts Centre continues to produce an annual host of competitive champions.
Hayes Sensei was awarded the title of Renshi, or Master Instructor, in 2001, along with the rank of 6th Dan, from Soke Tsuyoshi Chitose, the first Australian to gain such a rank, and was invited to join the International Chito-Ryu Technical Committee. Hayes Renshi also holds dan ranks in Iaido (sword drawing) and is 5th Dan in Okinawan Kobudo (weapons) in the Matayoshi system.
The Australian Chitokai Karate Association became an autonomous association in 2004, after a special resolution of members voted in favour of pursuing independent study of Dr Chitose’s method and is independent of the International Chito-Ryu Karate Federation. Kyoshi Ken Sakamoto, son-in-law of the founder, was invited to the position of Technical Director of Ryusei Chitokai, Australia, and has developed strong links with annual visits to Australia. Hayes Renshi and other senior students have made several visits to Japan to continue their training in traditional martial arts.
The Hunter Martial Arts Centre in Warners Bay is the National Headquarters (HONBU) of the Australian Chitokai Karate Association.
Chitokai in Australia is affiliated with the Australian Karate Federation, the World Karate Federation and the International Ryusei Karate-do Federation (Chitokai).