||It was the Okinawan Master
Kanryo Higaonna (1853-1915) through his intensive studies in Fuzhou, China
(Fujian province, 1867-1881), who laid the foundation for what would
become Goju-Ryu Karate-Do. Kanryo Higaonna set sail for the city of Fuzhou
in the autumn of 1867, when he was 15, and settled in the Okinawan
community known as the Ryukyu Kan, an area compromising a microcosm of
Okinawan life. Kanryo Higaonna was eager to study the Chinese martial arts
and was introduced to the Chinese Master Ryu Ryu Ko. The devotion of
Kanryo Higaonna was such that he eventually became Ryu Ryu Ko's,
uchi-deshi (senior student), learning his entire martial system. He also
studied weapons, and traditional Chinese medicine. It is not exactly clear
in what year Kanryo Higaonna began teaching the martial arts in Okinawa,
but it is known that he did not begin teaching until a few years after his
return from China. He had many notable students and eventually his
most dedicated student, Chojun Miyagi, succeeded him as the leading Master
of Naha-te (Chinese or Okinawa hands).
Miyagi (1888-1953) is the founder of today's Goju-Ryu Karate-Do; he was
responsible for taking the Naha-te of his teacher and formulating it into
his own martial arts system. Miyagi was Kanryo Higaonna's most
talented student and his chosen heir. Miyagi came from a wealthy family of
ship owners who imported medicines from China and supplied them to the
royal family, the government and leading Okinawan trading houses.
the death of Higaonna Kanryo, Miyagi, dedicated himself full-time with the
study of martial arts. Miyagi traveled to Fuzhou. Back on Okinawa, Miyagi
became friends with two tea-merchants from Fuzhou Wu Xianhui and Tang
Daiji. Both merchants were famous martial arts teachers. Wu Xianhui
(1886-1940) came to Naha in 1912 to teach White Crane Kung Fu. Tang
Daiji (1887-1937) a Tiger Boxing (Hu Quan) master who also emigrated from
Fuzhou to Naha.
dedicated his whole life to the development of what was called Toudi- Jutsu (
China hand art) or simply 'te' on Okinawa. In 1921, Crown-Prince Hirohito
visited Okinawa and witnessed a demonstration of Naha-te by Chojun Miyagi.
In 1925 Miyagi demonstrated the style for prince Chichibu-Nomiya and, in 1926,
founded the Okinawa Karate Kenkyu-Kai (Okinawa Karate Research Club) together
with Chomo Hanashiro (Shuri-te), Choyu Motobu (Tomari-te) and Kenwa Mabuni. One
year later, Chojun Miyagi demonstrated to Jigoro Kano (the founder of Judo),
grappling, locking and throwing techniques and the correct use of
1933, Chojun Miyagi registered his Toudi-Jutsu officially as Goju-Ryu at the
prestigious Dai Nippon Butokukai, (All Japan Martial Arts Association). Miyagi,
recognized by the Ministry of Physical Education for his art, received the
highest honor of the Dai Nippon Butokukai and was appointed representative to
the Butokukai department for Okinawa. Goju-Ryu Karate-Do was the first and the
oldest karate-tradition recognized by the Dai Nippon Butokukai and the founder,
Chojun Miyagi, was awarded significant accolades.
Seiko (1898-1966) was born in Naha Okinawa on November 8, 1898; he
began his training at the age of 13 under Higaonaa Kanryo and
remained his student until his death in 1917.
Following his teacher's death, Higa continued his training under
Miyagi Chojun of Goju-Ryu Karate, who was one of Higaonna's top
students; and remained under Miyagi until his death in 1953.
After the death of Miyagi Chojun, Higa supposedly assumed
leadership as the presume head of the style. However most of
Miyagi's top students all went their own way and went on to established
dojos and organizations of their own never giving recognition to Higa
Many feel that Higa should be known as the successor to Miyagi Chojun's
Goju- Ryu since he was the only one who was teaching Goju-Ryu while
Miyagi was alive and since he also trained with Miyagi's teacher
has been some controversy surrounding Higa's relationship with
Grandmaster Miyagi some say that Miyagi was unhappy with the way Higa
teaching Goju- Ryu and expelled him from the
dojo, but as a matter of fact in a document published in 1952, in an Okinawan
newspaper Miyagi listed the senior's members of his group and their titles and
only Higa Seiko was listed as "Headmaster".
Seiko was a very educated man and was employed as an elementary school teacher.
He resigned after one year and then went on to have a lengthy career as a
policeman. After ten years as a
policeman Higa resigned and dedicated himself to Karate.
opened his first dojo in 1931. In 1937 he moved to Saipan and opened
another dojo, staying for two years. Upon his return to Okinawa he started
teaching again and eventually opened a dojo in Itoman-cho, he went on to teach
at various places such as the high school Karate club and at the University.
In May of 1956 at Nagamine Shosin?s dojo (founder of Matsubayashi Ryu)
nineteen Karate teachers got together and established the Okinawa Karate-do
Federation, Higa became Vice-chairman and four years later he became Chairman.
Seiko Dojo was very popular, other master often visit and even trained there.
Seiko (1919-1975) was born in Nishi Shin-Machi in Naha Okinawa.
He began Goju-Ryu Karate under the direction of Higa Seiko, as a
junior high school student. After
he graduated from high school he became a soldier and was station in
Peking China. During that
time he was exposed to, and learned Chinese Kenpo, which he studied for
the duration of his tour of duty (about 3 years).
Upon his release from active duty, He continued his training with
Higa Seiko in Okinawa.
was a diligent student of Higa Seiko and became assistant instructor at
Higa dojo. He opened his own dojo, the senbukan (intense school of
budo). In 1961 he was
awarded the title of Kyoshi. In
1968 he was appointed Director of the Old Okinawa Goju-kai.
And in 1975 he was posthumously given the title of Hanshi.
was one of the most talented Goju-Ryu masters and it was a great loss to
the Karate world that he passed away at such a young age, as the result
of a stroke.