Kenji Tokitsu was born on 1 August 1947 in Yamaguchi, Japan. A practitioner of Shotokan karate since youth, in 1984 Tokitsu started his own school, the Shaolin-mon ("door to Shaolin", compare the Mumonkan) school in Paris, where he had taught Shotokan karate since 1971. The Shaolin-mon teachings were a hybrid of Tokitsu's dissatisfaction with Shotokan karate combined with what he learned of Chinese martial arts. Still later, he founded the Tokitsu-ryu Academy in 2001.
He was interviewed for his thoughts on Japanese culture in Chris Marker's 1996 film Level Five.