History of Goju-Ryu Karate-do
Welcome to the world of Martial Arts. The martial arts discussed
below are Okinawan Goju-ryu Karate and Ryukyu Kobu-jutsu.
Okinawa refers to the main island of the Ryukyu island, a
chain of islands stretching from southern Japan to Taiwan.
GO (hard or firm) refers to strong, straight-liner
and powerful aggressive strikes and blocks, while JU
(soft or gentle) refers to soft, yielding, circular deflections
and pinpoint strikes to vital areas.
Karate originally meant "China hand", but was
changed to de-emphasize its Chinese origin. The modern word
"Karate" translates as "empty hand". It
should be noted that contrary to popular belief, the term
"Karate" does not refer to without weapons. "Kara"
(empty) is a Taoist or Zen concept and does not relate to
weaponry. Kobu-jutsu refers to ancient weaponry fighting arts.
The concept of the hard and soft are also valuable in the
development of character.
The student of Goju-ryu should always be strong and capable
of defending him / herself while at the same time practicing
humility and respect for others. As the student advances in
training, the emphasis gradually shifts from hard-style basics
to softer more advanced techniques.
Goju-ryu Karate-do was founded by Master Chogun Miyagi in
the late 1920's. Master Miyagi was the successor to Master
Kanryo Higashionna, the leading exponent of Naha-te, on of
the three original "systems" that later developed
in modern Karate.
While a young man, Master Higashionna (already an accomplished
martial artist) was a seaman on a ship engaged in the China
trade. On one of these expeditions a young boy fell overboard.
master Higashionna bravely jumped overboard and saved the
The boy's grateful father happened to be a well-known Chinese
Boxing master, Master Ryu Ryu Ko. When Master Ryu offered
Master Higashionna a reward, the young Higashionna asked for
instruction in Ryu Ryu Ko's Chinese Boxing (Kingai-noon) System.
Master Higashionna studied in Fukien, China for thirty years
and upon his return, brought most of the forms and techniques
tht would later form the basis of the Goju-ryu system (as
well as many others).
Master Miyagi, born to a wealthy family devoted his life
to the mastery of Master Higashionna's techniques even housing
his instructor so not a moments training would be wasted.
After his teacher's death, Master Miyagi also journeyed to
Fukien, China, where he studied Southern White Crane Boxing
and other internal arts (said to include Hsing I and Pa Kua
Upon his return to Okinawa, Master Miyagi set about systemizing
what would later be known as Goju-ryu. This combination of
the "hard style" techniques and conditioning with
the theories and techniques of the "internal" Chinese
schools allows students to constantly progress as one advances
in age and experience, instead of declining with age as a
result of developing only physical strength.