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THE HISTORY OF GŌJŪ-RYŪ KARATEDO

Karate during the Ryukyu Dynasty Era ... was generally divided into Shuri-te style (including Kaku-te) and Naha-te style. These styles, which were practiced in secret in the dynasty era, were disclosed to the general public in Meiji Period, and quickly grew in popularity.

 

Before we study the background of Chojun Miyagi Sensei, founder of Gōjū-ryū, we must introduce the background of Kanryo Higashionna Sensei, from whom Chojun Miyagi Sensei learned Naha-te Karate.

KANRYO HIGASHIONNA (1853 - 1915)

Higashionna Sensei, who is credited with restoring Naha-te, studied martial arts at a young age. Higashionna Sensei was so famous that there was not a single person in Naha who did not know him. To boost his skills to an even higher level, Sensei traveled to Fujian Province, China, in 1875 at the age of 22 for Kempo training. After returning to Okinawa, Higashionna Sensei worked in his family's shipping business at first. As the rumor of Higashionna Sensei's achievements in Kempo training in Fukien spread, Higashionna Sensei began teaching at the request of his pupils.

 

A man of character, Higashionna Sensei constantly devoted his efforts to providing his pupils with spiritual training. His strict guidance attracted many outstanding pupils, and the respect of Higashionna Sensei continued to grow. It was also under Higashionna Sensei's tutelage that Chojun Miyagi Sensei flourished as the founder of Gōjū-ryū.

CHOJUN MIYAGI (1888 - 1953)

 

Born in Higashimachi, Naha in 1888, Gōjū-ryū founder Chojun Miyagi Sensei was accepted at age 14 as a pupil of Kanryo Higashionna Sensei, who at the time had unparalleled expertise in Naha-te. Under the strict guidance of Higashionna Sensei's stories of Kempo training, Miyagi Sensei decided that he, too, wants to travel to Fuzhou. With the permission of his master, Miyagi sensei traveled to Fuzhou, traveled to various locations where he trained his skills.

 

After the death of Higashionna Sensei, Miyagi Sensei became even more immersed in Karate research. Facing a flock of individuals seeking for Miyagi Sensei's tutelage due to his abilities and character, Miyagi Sensei agreed to accept students.

 

Miyagi Sensei developed a new, rational training system in terms of physical training based on his own research to teach his disciples. Miyagi Sensei also granted many requests and taught at police departments, Okinawa Teacher Training School, Naha School of Commerce, Kansai University, Ritsumeikan University, and Doshisha

University. In 1939, Miyagi Sensei gave lessons throughout Hawaii to promote the spread of Gōjū-ryū Karatedo.

 

After devoting his life to the spread and development of karatedo, Miyagi Sensei passed away in 1953 at the age of 65.

 

Chojun Miyagi sensei was not eager to promote a discipline name. When Miyagi Sensei's student, Jin'an Shinzato (1901-1945) took part in a demonstration and Meiji Shrine in 1930, he was asked what style he belonged to. Unable to answer the question, Shinzato reported the incident to Miyagi Sensei, who told Shinzato to reply "Goju-Ryu" the next time someone asked the same question. The name was derived from "Ho Goju Donto," one of the eight martial arts poems in Bubishi, a text of Fugian Shaolin White Crane School.