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A Brief History of Goju Ryu Karate Do
Transcript of A Brief History of Goju Ryu Karate Do
begins in Okinawa, one of many small islands off the coast of
Japan. Naha, Okinawa A Fighting Tradition For centuries, Okinawa has cultivated its martial tradition. Some of the earlier external influences on the development of martial arts in Okinawa undoubtedly came from the Japanese, who had a highly developed martial culture and a history of battles between clans vying for power. However, the early history of the Okinawan fighting arts of te, karatedo, and kobudo (ancient weapons practice) is shrouded in secrecy, and most of what is known of their development is based on speculation and oral tradition due to the lack of written records, a situation which existed until the start of the 20th century. The Fist of Naha Shrouded in Secrecy An old Okinawan proverb reveals a key to the small islands historical fighting traditions: To live in the world you must be prepared to defend yourself. To be unprepared is foolish when one is faced with a hostile environment that threatens ones very existence. Three cities are credited
with the development of
modern day karate; Shuri,
Tamari, and, specifically to
Goju Ryu, the port city of
Naha. Kanryo Higashionna (1853-1915)
Kanryo Higaonna was born on March 10, 1853 in the capital city of Okinawa, Naha. In 1869, at the age of 16, he voyaged to China to study martial arts under the great Master, Ryu Ryu Ko and soon became "uchi deshi" (private disciple). In addition to studying empty handed martial arts, he also became accomplished in weapons techniques and Chinese herbal medicine.
In 1881, after 13 years of severe training, he returned to Naha, Okinawa where his further developed his martial arts and began to share the art which became known as Naha-te. Higaonna expanded the reach of his martial art to include the youth of Okinawa, he developed a teaching method which was specifically designed to develop the mind and body; and to improve both physical and spiritual well-being.
Kanryo Higaonna's unparalleled skill in the martial arts and life-long dedication to spreading Naha-Te to earned him the title "Kensei (sacred fists) Higaonna Kanryo,". His name remains synonymous with Okinawan martial arts and Naha-te, and his spirit is destined to live on forever as a great and valued treasure within Okinawan culture.
Seiko Higa (1889-1966)
Seiko Higa was one of Kanryo Higashionna Sensei’s finest students. Higa Sensei was steadfast in his dedication to the traditions, philosophy and the profound essence of Naha-Te. He also had a lasting impact in the Goju-Ryu system as it is known today. Seiko Higa was a very educated man serving as a school teacher as well as a police officer. He decided however to dedicate himself entirely to karate-do and in 1960 Higa opened a dojo in the Yogi district of Naha naming it the Shodokan and created the International Karatedo and Kobudo Federation. Higa Sensei personally passed down the tradition of Okinawan Goju Ryu and established one of the most authentic lines of Goju Ryu directly connected to the source of Naha-Te. It is said the Higa Sensei He attained the Truth of Goju-ryu karate, and he tried to keep it.
Chojun Miyagi (1888-1953)
Chojun Miyagi was born on April 25, 1888. In 1902, he began training in karate under Kanryo Higaonna at the age of 14. Chojun Miyagi became "uchi deshi" (private disciple) of Kanryo Higaonna. He studied with his teacher for 14 years before his teacher's death in 1915. Chojun Miyagi dedicated his whole life to karate. He was responsible for structuring Naha-te (which he later named "Goju-Ryu") into a systematic discipline which could be taught to society in general.
Miyagi Sensei passed on the art two many students, some of whom made significant changes to the original system.
Gogen Yamaguchi (1909-1989)
Gogen Yamaguchi was born January 20, 1909. At age 13, he began his Goju studies under Takeo Maruyama. While at the university, he laid the framework for modern jiyu-kumite (free sparring). Prior karate instruction was limited to kata, bunkai, and kihons. In 1937, Chojun Miyagi sensei gave him the name "Gogen" and allowed him to propagate Goju-Ryu throughout mainland Japan. In 1950, he founded the All Japan Karate-Do Goju-Kai in Tokyo, Japan. By 1964, he spearheaded the union of all existing Japanese ryuhas into the All Japan Karatedo Federation.
Meitoku Yagi (1912-2003)
Meitoku Yagi was born in Naha, Okinawa, on March 06, 1912. At the age of 14, Yagi Sensei began training with Chojun Miyagi—the founder of Goju-Ryu Karate-Do. Miyagi Sensei was always intrigued by his dedication to the art. While other students learned a few katas directly from the founder, Miyagi Sensei taught the entire curriculum to Yagi Sensei.
In 1952, after many years of direct supervision under the founder, Yagi Sensei was given permission to open a dojo in Naha, Okinawa. He called his dojo the Meibukan—House of the pure minded warrior. After Miyagi Sensei’s death, Yagi Sensei was given the founder’s gi and belt by the founder’s family. Although his technique was taught directly to him by the founder, Yagi Sensei saw a need to readdress the Chinese influence in Goju-Ryu kata consequently the Meibukan has certain differences with mainstream Okinawan Goju-Ryu.
After Seiko Higa's death in 1966 his son, Seikichi Higa, became head instructor at the Shodokan. Modern day masters and senior disciples such as Choyu KIYUNA, Seitoku MATAYOSHI, Eiki KURASHITA continue the traditon in its purest form.