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Higaonna Kanryo was known as “Kensei”(Fist Saint or Sacred Fist) of Naha-Te, which takes its name from the Ryukyu Island towns, viz. Naha, Shuri and Tomari. The forms of indigenous fighting of the Ryukyu Islands, were initially named after the three main commercial town/.ports of the islands and , thus, were the forerunners of modern Ryu, or styles. The modern Ryu are; Goju Ryu (Naha-Te), Shotokan or JKA, Japan Karate Association (Shuri-Te/Tomari-Te), Wado Ryu (Shotokan/Shuri-Te) and Shito-Ryu (Shuri-Te/Naha-Te)

Born in Naha on March10th, 1853, Higaonna, at a very early age, showed great interest in the fighting arts. At age 16, he began to learn Chinese Kempo, which he mastered very quickly. But he longed to go to China to study the Chinese martial arts and its culture, firsthand. Because Naha was a port open to trade with China, he was able to leave by ship to China in November 1874, at the age of 22. In China he was introduced to a Master of Chinese Kempo, Master Ryu Ryuko (Chin Liu Lu Kung). Because of Higaonna’s strong attitude towards learning he was accepted by Master Ryu Ryuko as his personal disciple. Master Ryu Ryuko was a master of Southern Shaolin Kempo in the city of Fuzhuo (Foochow), Fujian Province Higaonna Sensei stayed with Master Ryu Ryuko for 15 long years of hard training, before returning to Naha, Okinawa. Not only had he mastered the technique of Master Ryu Ryuko, but also the Arts of the straight sword, broad sword and spear..

Standing only 5’1” tall, he was strongly built with much power and strength; largely due to the hard training that he underwent in China. Higaonna Sensei combined his native fighting system with the Chinese Kempo, which became the NAHA –TE style. He is believed to have chronicled his studies in a journal entitled BUBISHI (Chin Wu Pei Chi ) and brought back to Okinawa in the latter part of the 19th Century. He is noted particularly for the development of the SANCHIN kata He passed away in Okinawa in October 1916, aged 63 years.


founder picBorn in Naha on April 25th, 1888, Miyagi began his karate study at the sge of 11, under one Master Aragaki Ryuko, who later introduced him to Higaonna Sensei (then 49 years old) when Miyagi was only 14 years old. After accepting Miyagi as a personal student, Higaonna Sensei continued to study Miyagi’s character until he was convinced Miyagi Sensei was the person to whom he could pass on the Art that he had originally learned from his Master, Ryuko.

As Master and disciple, Higaonna Sensei and Miyagi Sensei together, devoted their lives to the study, practice and improvement of the Art of Naha-Te. Higaonna Sensei gave Miyagi Sensei special instruction in the practice of Kata. Miyagi Sensei trained with Higaonna Sensei for 15 years, until the latter’s death. That same year, Miyagi Sensei left for the city of Foochow, Fujian Province, China to study the Hung style of Shaolin and the Pa Kua forms of Chinese Boxing. Miyagi Sensei blended the hard/external form of Shaolin and the soft, circular/internal form of Pa Kua with his native Naha-Te until a new system emerged. After long study of the kata Rokkishu Miyagi created the original open-hand kata, TENSHO. He also further developed the original Sanchin of Higaonna Sensei. In 1940, Miyagi Sensei also developed two other Kata-GEKISAI ICHI and NI.. He named his Art GOJU-RYU- meaning “hard and soft”- after the precepts of traditional Chinese Kempo of Wu Pei Chi (Bubushi).

He was the first Master among the different schools of Karate to name his Art (in 1929) Miyagi Sensei returned to China, this time to Shanghai, in 1936 for two months of further study. He spent his entire life devoted to promoting Goju-Ryu Karate-Do and improving Karate by developing scientific methods of exercise, and the transmission of Okinawan Kararte-Do for the sake of future generations. He was active in spreading Karate-Do to mainland Japan in the 1930’s and, in fact, throughout the world, especially Hawaii where he spent ten months in 1934.

Miyagi Sensei was truly the Founder (Ryuso) of Goju-Ryu Karate-Do.

Miyagi Sensei died in Okinawa on October 8th 1953, aged 65 years.



Miyagi Sensei chose the name GOJU RYU (meaning Hard & Soft School), as the name for his style. This name he took from a line of the Chinese text, “Bubishi”, a very popular historical reference manual on Martial Arts and other related subjects with Karate-Ka of the Day.

In the eight Poems of the Fists…

  1. The mind is one with heaven and earth.

  2. The circulatory system of the body is similar to that of the sun and moon.

  3. The way of inhaling and exhaling is hardness and softness.

  4. Act in accordance with time and change

  5. Techniques will occur in the absence of conscious thought.

  6. The feet must advance and retreat, separate and meet.

  7. The eyes do not miss the slightest change.

  8. The ears listen well in all directions

(Taken from information booklet of Kyoshi Warren Ross, NSW Director of WGKA., with Thanks)