Goju-ryu - An Introduction
Goju-ryu Karate was founded by Higaonna Kanryo (1850–1915).
He began by learning Kempo in China under the instruction of Master Ryu Ryuko. He became known as a great martial artist. On his return to Okinawa he began to teach members of the royal family and subsequently opened up his own Dojo. His art became known as Naha-te. He became especially well known for his incredible speed, strength and power.
Chojun Miyagi who was a student of Kanryo Higaonna further developed Goju-ryu. At the age of 14, Chojun Miyagi met Kanryo Sensei and together they devoted their lives to the improvement and advancement of the art of Naha-te. They spent thirteen years together until Kanryo Sensei passed away in October 1916. Chojun Miyagi created several Katas. He spent a lot of his time personal training and perfecting and promoting his art.
In 1921, he performed a demonstration of Naha-te in Okinawa for the visiting Prince Hirohito, Emperor of Japan and in 1925 for Prince Chichibu. Chojun Miyagi realised the importance of unifying Okinawan Karate so that it could be practiced around the world. The Karate Research Club was established in 1926 in Wakas-Cho. Four instructors, Miyagi Chojun, Hanashiro, Motobu and Mabuni took exercises and also spoke of the samurai code of ethics.
Exposure increased after performances at several martial arts tournaments and it became necessary for this art to be named. Therefore, Chojun Miyagi named his martial art Goju-ryu and in 1933 his art of Goju-ryu was formally registered at the Butoku-kai, Japanese Martial Arts Association. The name Goju-ryu (Japanese for "Hard-soft style") was chosen because it allows a combination of hard and soft techniques. 'Go' means hardness or external force 'Ju' means softness or internal force.
The 1930’s saw Goju-ryu actively promoted and developed in Japan and throughout the rest of the world. To improve the physical education of young people and make his style more popular he created the Katas 'Gekisai Dai-ichi' and 'Gekisai Dai-ni' in 1940. 'Tensho' Kata was also created to emphasise the softness of the art and ‘Sanchin' Kata to emphasise the hardness.
The onset of World War II marked a period that saw Miyagi Chojun stop teaching until the end of the war when Okinawan Karate spread rapidly throughout mainland Japan. 1946 saw him begin teaching Karate at the Okinawan Police Academy.
He devoted his entire life to the study, development and transmission of Okinawan Karate for the sake of future generations and is truly known as the founder of Goju-ryu Karate-do. During his lifetime, Miyagi Chojun Sensei was known and respected by everyone not only in Okinawa but also respected throughout the world as one of Karate's greatest authorities.