Karate means empty hand or weaponless defense art. It is a martial art developed in Okinawa from indigenous fighting methods. It is primarily a striking art using punching, kicking, knee, elbow strikes, open-handed techniques, grappling, locks, throws, and vital point strikes. A karate practitioner is called a karateka.
Karate was developed in Okinawa into such highly sophisticated art thanks to the banning of weapons in the area at the time; in consequence a fighting system was created known as a “te” today known as Karate. In Okinawa karate is not practiced primarily as sport or even as exercise for health. The Okinawan consider Karate as a life long pursuit to be practiced as training for the body and the mind.
Karate has evolved into 4 different styles. There are ONLY 4 recognized styles by the World Karate Federation (WKF) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC). These styles are:
– Goyu Ryu
– Shito Ryu
– Wado Ryu
MASTER KANRYO HIGAONA
Founder of Naha-Te (1853-1915)
Grandmaster Kanryo Higaonna was born on March 10, 1853, in Naha, the capital city of Okinawa. His father, Kanryo, worked as merchant/sailor and sailed between the small islands of Okinawa to trade goods. From a young age Kanryo Higaonna helped his father in this work and through the hard physical labor that was involved he developed a strong body.
Kanryo Higaonna was still in his teens when his father died suddenly. Kanryo decided he wanted to study the martial arts and he set his heart on traveling to Fuzhou, China for this purpose. He arrived in Fuzhou in 1869 at the age 16. Once in Fuzhou he studied the Chinese martial arts under the great Master, Ryu Ryu Ko. He soon became “uchi deshi” (private disciple) and he remained in China under the severe instruction of his teacher for approximately 13 years. In addition to studying empty handed martial arts he also became accomplished in weapons techniques and Chinese herbal medicine. Master Ryu Ryu Ko esteemed his pupil highly and sanctioned Kanryo’s mastery of these arts – an honor which is accorded extremely rare. Such was Kanryo’s skill in the martial arts that his fame be-came widespread throughout Fuzhou and the surround-ing area. The year 1881, after 13 years of diligent study with his teacher, Kanryo returned to Naha, Okinawa, where his martial arts became known as Naha-te (these arts were also referred to as “Tode,” meaning martial arts from China). Kanryo Higaonna taught NAha-te to the people of Okinawa and at the same time continued his own research and practice. In order to teach the youth of Okinawa, he developed a teaching method which was specifically designed to develop the mind and body; to improve both physical and spiritual
Creator of Goju Ryu, 1888-1953.
Grandmaster Chojun Miyagi was born on April 25, 1888. He began training in arateunder Kanryo Higaonna at the age of 14 in 1902. Like his teacher before him, because of his great natural talent and fierce determination, he progressed very rapidly. The training was severe beyond belief at times but he practiced even harder with an enthusiasm unmatched by any of the other students. 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, as successor to Naha-te, pushed himself to the limits of endurance in his desire to emulate the extraordinary skill of his teacher. To this end, that same year (1915) he journeyed to Fuzhou, China, the city where his teacher had studied the martial arts, to further his own research. This was one of three trips he made to China during his lifetime.
On his return to Okinawa, he began to teach the martial arts at his home in Naha. Later, he also taught at the Okinawan Prefecture Police Training Center, at the Okinawan aster’s Training College, and at the Naha Commercial High School (where his teacher had once taught). Chojun Miyagi dedicated his whole life to karate. He was responsible for structuring Naha-te (which he later named Goju-Ryu) into a systemized discipline which could be taught to society in general. The teaching system, which he formulated, enabled karate to be taught in schools for the benefit of the young people, and to reach vast numbers of people throughout the world. However, his private teaching at his home remained strictly in adherence to the principles and traditions of the teacher, Kanryo Higaonna, and his teacher before him Ryu Ryu Ko.
The naming of Goju-Ryu came about more by accident than design. In 1930, Chojun Miyagi’s top student, Jin’an Shinzato, while in Tokyo was asked by numerous martial arts masters as to what school of martial arts he practiced. As Naha-te had no formal name he could not answer this question. On his return to Okinawa he reported this incident to Chojun Miyagi. After much consideration Chojun Miyagi decided on the name Goju-Ryu (hard and soft school) as a name for his style. He took this name from a line in the Bubishi (a classical Chinese text on martial arts and other subjects). This line, which appears in a poem describing the eight precepts of the martial arts, reads Ho Goju Donto (the way of inhaling and exhaling is hardness and softness).
Chojun Miyagi worked hard to spread karate throughout Okinawa and mainland Japan, and to earn Naha-te a status equal to that of the highly respected Japanese martial arts of judo and kendo. To achieve this, he traveled frequently to mainland Japan where he was invited to teach karate at Kyoto University, Kansai University and Ritsumei Kan University. In 1931, Goju-Ryu Karate-Do was officially registered in the Butokukai, the center for all martial arts of Japan, as the first karate style. This was a milestone for karate as it meant that it was recognized on a level with the highly respected martial arts of Japan. Chojun Miyagi was also the first karate instructor recognized by the Japan Butokukai as a master of Karate in those early days of development. Chojun Miyagi passed away on October 8th, 1953, leaving a great legacy behind. He predicted that during the twentieth century karate would spread throughout the world. Today we can see that his prediction has been realized; karate is not only practiced in Japan, but it can be found throughout the countries of the world.
Goju Ryu, (Japanese for “hard-soft style”) is one of the main traditional Okinawan styles of karate, featuring a combination of hard and soft techniques. Both principles, hard and soft, come from the famous martial arts book Bubishi used by Okinawan masters during the 19th and 20th centuries. Go which means hard, refers to closed hand techniques or straight linear attacks; Ju which means soft, refers to open hand techniques and circular movements.
Major emphasis is given to breathing correctly. Goju Ryu practices methods that include body strengthening and conditioning, its basic approach to fighting (distance, stickiness, power generation, etc.), and partner drills. Goju Ryu incorporates both circular and linear movements into its curriculum. Goju Ryu
combines hard striking attacks such as kicks and close hand punches with softer open hand circular techniques for attacking, blocking, and controlling the opponent, including locks, grappling, takedowns and throws.