Creation and foundation of Okinawa Goju Ryu karatedo

In brief




Kanryo Higaaonna Sensei

(March 10th, 1853, Dec. 23, 1917)


“Naha-te” art which was founded by Higaaonna the Mater of karate composes the base and fundamental of goju-ryu. He was born on 1853. He who was eager to learn the art of Chinese compo, at the end after hard efforts he goes to Fuzhou port that on that time was the only port having business with Okinawa. There he was trained under supervision of ryoryoko. When Higaaonna returned to Okinawa, by spread of information on his skills, a short time later he was in charge of training members of royal family. After a while, he established his first Dojo. Due to his speed, power and incredible strength, soon he was famous ad his art was known as Naha-te.


Chojun Miyagi Sensei

(April 25, 1888-October 8th, 1953)


But the real founder of goju-ryu is Chojun Miyagi who was student and follower of Higaaonna. At 14, he met his master Higaaonna and he dedicated his life to complete and advance Naha-te art. 13 years later in 1917, Higaaonna died and Chojun Miyagi journeyed to China to discover the origins of Naha-te in Fuzhou. After a while, Chojun Miyagi returned to Okinawa. He was an enthusiast man and very strong. He used to practice in nature with different exercises to reinforce his five senses.

In 1921, when the Japanese Emperor, Prince Hirohito was visiting Okinawa, Master Chojun Miyagi performed Naha-te art for the Emperor. In 1925, he has also performed a program for Prince Chichibu, too. Master Chojun Miyagi was thinking of expanding Naha-te art not only in Japan, but in the whole world. Thus, he was thinking on organizing Naha-te by introducing his art and he was trying to offer it to future generations in Japan and other countries as a cultural treasure.

In 1926, Chojun Miyagi founded the Karate research club in Wakaschu. There, three great masters called “Hanashiro”, “Motobo” and “Mabuni” were accompanying Master Miyagi. Every day, after practicing, Chojun Miyagi was giving speeches on human, daily life and ethics of Samurai culture in order to develop the ethics of his students. In 1927, master “Jigoro Kano”, founder of Judo, was attracted by the power and advanced content of Naha-te techniques after Kata performance by Chojun Miyagi. Influence of master Kano was the reason for Chojun Miyagi to participate in important matches of Budo of Japan which was sponsored by the government to show his art to public. In 1930, master Miyagi participated in “botoko-kay” races and “Sainibodo” in 1932.  After a while, Miyagi decided to name his art. Thus, he selected the name of Karate goju-ryu. It means hard and soft which is taken from a principle in traditional Chinese compo. In 1933, goju-ryu art was officially registered in society for Japanese martial’s “botoko-kay”. In 1930s, Miyagi continued karate in an active way so that in 1934, a newspaper from Hawaii invited him to introduce Karate there and to perform classes for training the interested ones.

In 1937, “botoko-kay” granted him the confirmation order for Kata and Miyagi continued scientific investigation of goju-ryu. In 1940, he developed of “Gekisaidai ichi” and “Gekisaidai ni” Katas by the objective of introducing Karate and promoting physical education of the youth. He also created “Tensho” kata which mentions to softness of this art next to “Sanchin” kata which refers of harness of goju-ryu.

After World War II, and losing one of his sons and also one of his superior students, he has several years of break and again in 1946 he restarted training Karate in central islands of Japan in Kansay (current Osaka) and after returning back to Okinawa he started training karate in Okinawa’s police academy and also in his house yard in Chabuya, where his son is stilling living.

Master Miyagi shall be known as the founder of karate goju-ryu. From the very beginning he introduced karate as a cultural treasure from Okinawa and he dedicated all his life to study, make progress and transfer Okinawa karate to future generations. During his lifetime, he was respecting all masters of Japanese martial and until today, everybody knows Master Miyagi as one of the greatest theoreticians of karate.

Master Miyagi has selected the name of goju-ryu from 8 laws in traditional Chinese compo which is propounded in Bubishi documents:

 1-    The mind is one with heaven and earth.

 2-    The circulatory rhythm of the body is similar to the cycle of the sun and the moon.

 3-    The way of inhaling and exhaling is both hardness and softness.

 4-    Act in accordance with time and change.

 5-    Techniques will occur in the absence of conscious thought.

 6-    The feet must advance and retreat separate and meet.

 7-    The eyes do not miss even the slightest change.

 8-    The ears listen well in all directions.

It should be mentioned that these eight laws are the essences of goju-ryu martial art and the student tries to achieve the depth of these principles during practices.