Goju Ryu

                                                                                   BRIEF HISTORY OF GOJU RYU KARATE ...KANRYO HIGAONA
 
Grandmaster Kanryo Higaona was born in Naha on March 10, 1853, the fourth child of Kanyo and his wife Makado. Higaona's family belong to what could be described as "lower classes", and as a child he was nicknamed "Machu"

When he was 16 years old, he began to learn the Art of Kempo from someone who had travel and learnt in Fukien, China. He was able to master this Art very quickly, and it didn't take long before he was equal to his teacher in fighting ability. Higaona Kanryo was very young when he became known as a Master of the Martial Arts in Naha. Even so, he was still eager to learn   more, and dreamed of visiting China one day. Having heard about China from his teacher, and from Chinese merchants visiting Naha, he was fascinated by the Chinese civilisation; it's Martial Arts and the Arts in general.

In November 1874, Higaona left the port of Naha and embarked to China by the way of Foochow, and he went to live at an Okinawan settlement called the Ryukyu-kan. It was here that Higaona was introduced to a Chinese kempo master called Ryu Ryuko. Traditionally in China, and in the Martial Arts in those days, you were not allowed to learn or train with anybody unless you proved your worth.Higaona was not exception, and he spent many hours, and for a long time tending to menial tasks like, gardening and washing up. The training was extensive and very demanding, and Higaona was able to train in Sanchin and with a variety of tools to strengthen the student's grip, like the Nigiri-game (earthen jars). Makiwara and the Uki were also used.

After several years of hard training, Higaona became master Ryu Ryuko's most proficient student. Higaona  Sensei was already making a name for himself, and his fame quickly spread through the region. Because he lived in a house without much comfort, he was forced to get up very early in the mornings in order to get warm. He practised his Kata in the backyard under the watchful eye of Ryu Ryuko, who thought of him as his own son, and he stayed with Master Ryu Ryuko for fifteen years as his personal disciple. After this period of time, Higaona decided to leave Foochow and return to Okinawa.

His first open dojo was also his house in Nishimachi, and many came to learn from him but because the training was very harsh, not many managed to stay around for very long. He also started teaching his Martial Art at the local high School in Naha, for the benefit of the student's health and spiritual well being.Soon enough, the people of Naha named him "Kensei", which means "sacred fists". Gradually the art of Higaona Sensei became known as"Naha Te", which means "Naha hands". From then on and through the centuries, Higaona Sensei has become honoured with the title of "founder of Okinawan Karate" 
                                                                                                                    CHOJUN MIYAGI SENSEI


Miyagi Chojun Sensei was born in Naha on April 25, 1888. His family belonged to the upper class, and were involved in the medical trade, his was one of the wealthiest families in Naha. At 5 he was named successor of the main family, even though he was his father's first son.

When Miyagi Sensei was 11 years old, his mother took him to a Karate master named Aragaki Ryuko. At the dojo of Aragaki Sensei, he trained mainly on makiwara, chishi, and nagiri-game, which were used to strengthen and develop the muscles. Later he introduced the young Miyagi to Higaona Sensei. Higaona was also not keen on accepting new students without a demonstration of character and personality. It was only after the person's behaviour had convinced him, that he would take the steps to train him. After watching the young Miyagi carrying out all of the chores around the house, Higaona Sensei decided to have him as a personal disciple, and started to teach him his art.

Miyagi Sensei's training was not confined just to the dojo. He ran every day from his High School, where he had enrolled previously, and a few times he was seen at the harbour as well. Miyagi did a lot of body conditioning before he went to Higaona's dojo, but still found the training extremely hard and demanding. Higaona's training was exhaustive, and Miyagi would pass out many an evening.

Although the training was very hard, Miyagi was enthusiastic about his karate, and Higaona Sensei was already thinking of him as his successor.Both were already working on the practice of kata and on the improvement of Naha-te. They stayed together for 15 years until the death of Higaona in October of 1916. In the same year, Miyagi Sensei visited Fukien in China and travelled to the house where Master Higaona once lived. Because of the revolutionary war, most Martial Artists escaped to Singapore and Malaysia, never came back, and remained underground. Back in Okinawa, Miyagi dedicated his time to the "development" of Tensho, for many his "master piece" Later he also created the katas Gekisai Ich and Ni.

Training by himself now, Miyagi decided to approach his karate in a more "natural" way. He worked out in the forests and on the  beach, sometimes he even practised in the snow for long periods of time, as to bring his karate closer to nature.

Miyagi spent most of his time practising karate, and studying everything that could be related to Martial Arts, and had very interesting experiences while doing it. In 1921, he performed the Art of Naha-te in front of the then crown Prince Hirohito. The Prince was most impressed for what he saw, and couldn't believe such Art was coming from such a tiny island in Okinawa. Miyagi Sensei thought of organising Okinawan Karate, in order to preserve this Art as a cultural inheritance of the Okinawans, and set up a Club called Karate Research Club in Wakasa-cho, Naha.

The Club was also visited by other Masters of Karate, including Sensei Kenwa Mabuni, Hanashiro Chomo and Motosu Chobu whom took turns in the teaching curricula.Some years later, and after Jigoro Kano the founder of Judo visited Okinawa, Miyagi was invited to perform at the Butoku-sai tournament in Japan.This performance gave Miyagi Sensei the opportunity to spread the qualities of Okinawan Karate, in many Martial Arts circles, and was always invited to the Budo Tournaments sponsored by the Japanese government.

Miyagi Sensei named his art Goju Ryu, meaning "hard and soft", after the precepts of traditional Chinese kempo, which are found in the document called "Bubishi". He was the first Karate master to actually name his School, and he was recognised by the Butokukai as a registered founder of a "Ryu".

He spent all his life promoting and developing Goju Ryu, and improving scientific methods of exercise. He only stopped teaching during the war,and in 1946 he opened  up a karate school in his backyard. Karate was rapidly spreading through Japan and for a while Miyagi taught in the Kansai area or Western Japan.Throughout  the world, he is now highly respected and he's known as the "father of Goju Ryu". In Okinawa he became "Bushi Magusuku" which means "Gentleman warrior"

He passed away in 1953                 





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