Robert Ito Bio
Grand Master Ito's Mentors
Meet the White Tiger Family
I instruct in the Zen and Tao of Shaolin, Tai Chi, and Kempo. I have been mentored by Grandmaster Bing Fai Lau, Hanchi Paul Yamaguchi, Grandmaster Ming Lum, Professor Imi Okazaki-Mullins, and Grandmaster Mike Young. Philosophical influence has also come from Hanchi Thomas Young, Grandmaster Al Novak and Mr. Clarence Lee. My weapons training in Filipino arts began with Grandmaster Rene Latosa in 1985.
In 50 years of instruction, I have awarded 15 black belts.
I also specialize in working with students 12 years and under. I focus on teaching my students discipline, respect, and self defense.
Grandmaster Bing Fai Lau
The well known Grandmaster Bing Fai Lau had a scroll presented to me after his passing, instructing me to continue his studies in the martial arts tradition, thus naming me as his successor. The Martial Arts Collective Society had awarded this scroll to Bing Fai Lau in 1996, to acknowledge his role in Pioneering the Martial Arts in the United States.
Hanshi Paul Yamaguchi
I was awarded the rank of Renshi Ryoku (6th) Dan at Lihue, Hawaii by Hanshi Paul Yamaguchi, the Head of Kosho Shorei Shin-Shing Ryu. This certificate includes his personal seal (chalk/stamp).
Professor Imi Okazaki-Mullins
Professor Imi Okazaki-Mullins passed on to me a plaque containing the philosophies of practice of her father, Professor Henry Seishiro Okazaki. This was to acknowledge that my traditional spirit of practice was similar to that of her father's. The plaque was originally presented to her oldest sister at the 8th Annual Shoshinryu Udanshakai Annual Banquet weekend June 28-30 1991.
Chinese Atheletic Arts Academy
Awarded the title of Grandmaster "for outstanding dedication and excellence in the perpetuation and preservation of the traditions of Martial Arts" by Chinese Athletic Arts Academy. The certificate was signed by Professor Randal T Choy, Dean of the Chinese Athletic Arts Academy, and Master Bertram B.N. Chock, Assistant Dean of the Chinese Athletic Arts Academy.
Grandmaster Rene Latosa
Have a Master Level 1 rank in Latosa Escrima. All my training in this art was through private lessons from Grandmaster Rene Latosa.
Back to Top
This ancient art was founded in 1235 AD by a monk who, according to legend, meditated under an old pine tree and discovered the meaning of true self-defense. Utilizing proper strategies, the monk could make an attacker undo his own attack in such a way that allowed for both the attacker and defender to remain uninjured. The monk chose a name for this art to reflect its spirit and origins. Hence, Kosho Shorei Ryu, which means "Old Pine Tree School of Encouragement," was developed.
The 21st descendant of Kosho Shorei Ryu, James (Masayoshi) Mitose, moved to Hawaii in 1936 and taught his art from 1942 until 1946. It is from these early teachings that much of what’s known today as Kempo has developed.
Below is a Kosho Ryu lineage chart.
Back to Top
Grandmaster Clarence Tai Gu Lee was born in 1927 in Honolulu, Hawaii, the eldest of five brothers. He has taught martial arts in the San Francisco Bay Area since 1953. From 1968 until 1993, Mr. Lee traveled frequently to Okinawa, Japan, Malaysia, Hong Kong, China and Indonesia to seek knowledge and train.
As a young man, he was privileged to study Shorin Ryu under the legendary Chosin Chibana Sensei. Later, he studied Shorin Ryu and Kobudo under Fumio Nagaishi Sensei, Eisuke Akamine Sensei, Katsuya Miyahira Sensei, and Shuguro Nakazato Sensei. He also trained diligently in the Chinese Martial Arts and studied Tong Long Tai Chi in Hong Kong with Sifu Kung Quan Wai, Wu Tai Chi in San Francisco with Mr. Wai, Yui Sing; Northern Style Kung Fu with Sifu Bob Louie; and Southern Style Kung Fu with Sifu Y.C. Wong and Sifu Norman Jew. In 2001, he became a student of Sifu John Chang, from Indonesia.
As a resident of San Francisco, Mr. Lee could be found each morning in Golden Gate Park, rising early, meditating, working out daily and teaching the serious devotees that sought him out. He retained a vigorous training schedule until the ripe age of 86. He enjoyed traveling to Hawaii and Florida to visit students, friends and family.
Below are pictures of Mr. Lee and Ann sharing their time at White Tiger activities. We will miss him. The stories Mr. Lee shared with me about these masters, gave me insight into their traditional philosophies and spirit of intent. Mr. Lee emphasized the tradition of earning your way in life.
Rene Latosa has been studying and teaching the Filipino martial arts of weapons and empty hand for over 30 years all over the world. He is, in fact, the first to bring the Filipino Martial Arts to England and Europe. He began his training at the Stockton Escrima Academy in Stockton, CA, in 1968, with Dentoy Revilar (Serrada), Maximo Sarmiento (Kadena de Mano ), Leo Giron (Largo Mano ) and Grandmaster Angel Cabales (Serrada and Father of Escrima in America). However, the most influential Escrimador in his life was his father, Juan Latosa. Rene's initial exposure to the Filipino martial arts came through his ethnic and cultural environment in Stockton, a small farming town in central California, which at one time had the largest Filipino community apart from Manila.
In 1984, my good friend Master Herb Cody introduced me to Grandmaster Rene Latosa. His specialized ability in weapons and empty hand was very refreshing.
Over the years, I've sought the advice of 2 people, Ron Lusgocheck and Rene Latosa. To this day, I still use input and advice I received from Grandmaster Latosa.
We are fortunate to have Grandmaster Latosa come to White Tiger for annual seminars and share his style of the arts with us.
Robert Ito, Renshi's technical teacher on the study of the human body’s physics of motion in the martial arts.
Instrumental influence to Robert Ito, Renshi's direction in the study of Tai Chi Chaun.
Robert Ito, Renshi's guide to ethics, respect, goodwill and passion in the Martial Arts. Youngest daughter of Professor Henry Okazaki and motivation for White Tiger Esoteric Principals.
Mr. Robert Ito, Renshi's chief mentor in helping to navigate the culture, personalities and history of the West Coast and Hawaiian martial arts communities.
Confidential adviser to Mr. Robert Ito, Renshi across a myriad of topics, situations and events within the realm of martial arts.
I had the honor of meeting Hanshi Thomas Young at Hanshi Bruce Juchnik’s Gathering in 1994. Given the opportunity to sponsor his attendance, I jumped at the opportunity and was tasked with picking him up at the San Francisco Airport and transporting him to the event in Sacramento. The long drive allowed for more than just idle conversation and gave me my first insights into what a gracious and thoughtful man Hanshi Young was. Over the ensuing years, Hanshi Young not only enlightened me on various aspects of the martial arts but passed on his deep appreciation of family and education. I will always be thankful for the special attention he afforded my wife and children.
Influential in developing Mr. Robert Ito, Renshi's understanding of Great Grandmaster James Mitose's unique teachings of Kosho energy collection. Paul Yamaguchi, Hanshi's extensive training started with the Grandmaster of Kosho and continued with various esteemed masters including O'Shiru Sensei (Shorei Ryu), Kobayashi Sensei (Gojo Ryu), and Fugita Sensei's specialized breathing techniques. Paul Yamaguchi, Hanshi's integration of the concepts handed down from these masters greatly influenced Robert Ito's Inner-Self studies.
Back to Top
Robert (AKA Master Ito) and Donna Ito (Mr. Ito & Mrs. Ito)
Robert and Donna Ito have been married for over 40 years and have worked side by side since 1975. They raised their 3 children at the Dojo, and are now enjoying their 5 grandchildren. You will find Mrs. Ito behind the desk at the Dojo working the books and schedule. It has been a wonderful experience watching at least 3 generations of students come through White Tiger. We love when our White Tiger students come back and visit with their families.
Robert Genzo Ito (Mr. Genzo)
I have over 25 years of practice and 15 years of Instructing young kids to mature adults. I use the arts as a life skill tool to better myself and create a positive experience with my influence. I enjoy working with students through their progress to learn about and better themselves through mind, body and spirit. I find joy in using my experience to relate, understand and communicate to find solutions to struggles in their progress and help them to achieve progressive goals to expand their abilities.
Ronda Gotti (Mrs. Gotti)
I began studying White Tiger Kempo and Tai Chi in 2002 and received my Black Belt in 2010. I have learned that there is so much more to these studies than learning a Kata, or advancing to another belt level. White Tiger Universal Studies is a lifetime study of the self (mind, body, spirit), of motion, and of self defense. Our Dojo is like a family. I enjoy working Kempo, Tai Chi and weapons classes with students (5-70 years) and coordinating our quarterly tournaments.
Patrick Farley (Mr. Farley)
Pat Farley joined the Ito’s White Tiger Dojo in 2004 and now holds the rank of 2nd Degree Brown Belt.
Pat came to us with an extensive background in other athletic pursuits including college football and a 25 year rugby career. Pat founded the Marin Highlanders youth rugby club and is still active as a coach and board member.
“After my playing days were over, I was searching for an activity that would maintain my fitness level and help to fill the void left by my departure from competitive athletics. I had dabbled in Karate as a kid and Aikido as a young adult and was always intrigued by the martial arts. Returning to the martial arts, in a more focused way, seemed a natural next step for me.
I consider myself to be extremely fortunate to be training under Mr. Ito and his Black Belts. Mr. Ito is an accomplished, traditional martial artist and this journey has proven to be more challenging and rewarding than I had anticipated. Our studies address the whole person (mind, body and spirit) and can become a lifelong pursuit.
Assisting with student training allows me to continue with my passion for guiding children, teens and adults in the direction of becoming healthier and more confident individuals. I look forward to working with you.”
Pat is a Senior Portfolio Manager with Merrill Lynch and lives in Novato with his wife Susan and twins Rachael and Ryan.
Tzahal Ben Avraham (Mr. Tzahal)
My name is Tzahal Ben Avraham. I started with White tiger in the Spring of 2007. I received my green belt in 2013 and added a stripe to my belt in 2015.
I am a retired firefighter, who got hurt in the line of duty, and had to take disability retirement in 1999. I am a teacher at the Santa Rosa Junior College in the Fire Technology Section. I specialize in teaching fire behavior to firefighters and those trying to gain a career in this field.
I've been married to my wife, Claudia for 26 years. She has given me 100% support in my endeavor to be a better student in this discipline of White Tiger Studies. I came to White Tiger to see what I could do for pain control and build strength due to the injury. Over the years, I've worked with Mr. Ito and the other instructors at the school to build strength and reduce the pain levels. My still being here is proof, that the exercises and guidance have worked quite well.
I enjoy being able to "pay it forward" to other students in the school. I feel passing on what I've learned is vital to the continuation of my learning in this "life long study". God willing, I pray I can be here for many more years to come!
Back to Top