||Japan Karate Do Hakua-Kai Matsubushi Dojo
|Naha-te (那覇手Okinawan: Naafa-dii) is a pre-World War II term for a type of martial art indigenous to the area around Naha, the old commercial city of the Ryūkyū Kingdom and now the capital city of the island of Okinawa.
Well into the 20th century, the martial arts of Okinawa were generally referred to as te, which is Japanese for "hand". Te often varied from one town to another, so to distinguish among the various types of te, the word was often prefaced with its area of origin; for example, Naha-te, Shuri-te, or Tomari-te.
Naha-te was primarily based on the Fujian White Crane systems of Southern China, which trickled into Okinawa in the early 19th century through Kumemura (Kuninda), the Chinese suburb of Naha, and continued developing and evolving until being finally formalized by Higaonna Kanryō in the 1880s.
In the first few decades of the 20th century, a number of formal organizations were founded to oversee Okinawan martial arts, and due to their influence, the word karate came to be widely accepted as a generic term for all sorts of Okinawan unarmed martial arts. With the popularity of the term karate, the practice of naming a type of martial art after its area of origin declined. The term Naha-te is no longer in general use.
Naha-Te is the name of the particular type of Okinawan martial art that developed in the port town of Naha, the modern day capital
of Okinawa. The martial art that indigenously developed in Okinawa was
called Te ("Hands"), and the continuous Chinese influences that
incorporated Chinese Boxing (Chuan-Fa,
nowadays known as Chinese boxing) were eventually reflected by naming the
Okinawan martial arts Tang-ti "Chinese Hand".
Credited for the early development of Naha-Te is Kanryo Higaonna (1853-1915).
Kanryo Higaonna students include Chojun Miyagi (1888-1953), the founder
of Goju-ryu. Taken from the Bubishi meaning hard and soft and Kenwa Mabuni
(1889-1952), the founder of Shito-ryu. Shito-ryu truly has no translation,
the first two ideograms from his teacher Itosu=糸, SHI and Higaonna = 東 ,TO, (糸東流). The founder of Goju-ryu was Chojun Miyagi (1888-1953).
He became a disciple of Kanryo Higaonna (1853-1915), the founder of the
Naha-te style, when he was 14. He endured harsh ascetic practices and in
went to Fujian Province in China to perfect his skills in the martial arts. He also undertook a lot of research on noted Chinese warriors. As a result, he was
able to take over and organize karate techniques and the principles of
the martial arts that he had been taught. He consolidated modern karate
do, incorporating effective elements of both athletics and the martial
arts in addition to the principles of reason and science.
Chojun Miyagi's most promising disciple, Jinan Shinzato, gave a demonstration
at the 'All Japan Martial Arts Tournament Offering Congratulations on the
Emperor's Accession' held in Meiji Jingu Shrine in 1929. Afterwards he
was asked what school of karate he belonged to. When he returned home,
he told master Miyagi about this and Miyagi decided to choose the name
Goju-ryu (the hard-soft style), inspired by one of the 'Eight Precepts'
of Kempo, written in the Bubishi, and meaning 'The way embraces both hard
and soft, both inhalation and exhalation. The main characteristic of Goju-ryu
is the 'respiration method' accompanied by vocal exclamations, emphasizing
'inhaling and exhaling' and 'bringing force in and sending force out'.
The Kata of Goju-ryu are broadly divided into: Sanchin (basics), Kaishu-gata
(open hand forms), and Heishu-gata (closed hand forms). The traditional
Kata passed down from Kanryo Higaonna to the present include: Sanchin,
Saifa, Seienchin, Shisochin, Sanseiru, Seipai, Kururunfa, Seisan, and Suparinpei
(or Pecchurin). In addition to such traditional Kata, Goju-ryu has added
Kokumin Fukyugata, a series of Kata created by Chojun Miyagi for the nationwide
popularization of the school Gekisai I, Gekisai II and Tensho-which complete
the Kata of Goju-ryu for Tanren.
Important Okinawan masters of Naha-te:Kogusuku Isei,Maezato Ranhō, Arakaki Seishō, Higaonna Kanryō, Miyagi Chōjun, Nakamiya Kenri, Kyoda Jūhatsu, Mabuni Kenwa, Gogen Yamaguchi
Important katas:Sanchin, Saifā, Seienchin, Shisōchin, Seipai, Seisan
The successor styles to Naha-te include Gōjū-ryū, Tōon-ryū (developed by
the students of Higaonna Kanryō), Kogusuku-ryū, and others.
Ryū Ryū Ko (ルールーコウ)
Ryū Ryū Ko (ルールーコウ, Rū Rū Kou 1852 - 1930), also known as Ryuko, Ryuru Ko, Liu Liu Gung, Liu Liu Ko, To Ru Ko, was
a teacher of Fujian White Crane, notable for instructing many of the founders
of Okinawan martial arts which later produced Karate. The kata Sanchin,
taught in Gōjū-ryū and most other styles of Karate, was originally taught
by Ryū Ryū Ko.
Although Ryū Ryū Ko is mostly known from the accounts of his Okinawan students, he is generally identified, based on the research of Tokashiki Iken, as Xie Zhongxiang, born in Changle, Fujian, to a noble family which lost its status in political turmoil of the time. He was one of the first generation masters of Míng hè quán (鳴鶴拳, Whooping Crane Fist), which he either learned from his teacher Kwan Pang Yuiba (who was a student of Fāng Qīniáng, the originator of the first White Crane martial art), or created himself, based on more general White Crane style of his teacher. He had to conceal his name and aristocratic lineage and took on the name Ryu Ryu Ko, under which he worked, making household goods from bamboo and cane. He has been teaching martial arts at his home to a very small group of students, which included Higaonna Kanryō, who stayed with Ryu Ryu Ko from 1867 to 1881. Ryu Ryu Ko expanded his class to an actual public school in 1883, running it with his assistant, Wai Shinzan (Wai Xinxian). It is also said that he had a son named Xie Tsuxiang,Ryu Ryu Ko's currently living direct descendant is his great-grandson, Xie Wenliang.
Some historians do not agree with Xie Zhongxiang identification, it's been
suggested that Ryu Ryu Ko taught other styles of southern Chinese martial
arts, or even that Ryu Ryu Ko was the name of the place, rather than a
The okinawan martial artists who are believed to have studied in Ryu Ryu
Ko's school were Higaonna Kanryō (founder of Naha-te), Arakaki Seishō,
Norisato Nakaima (1850-1927) (founder of Ryūei-ryū), Sakiyama Kitoku (1830-1914),
Kojo Taitei (1837-1915), Maezato Ranpo (1838-1904), Matsuda Tokusaburo
||Arakaki Seishō (新垣 世璋)
Arakaki Seishō ( was a prominent Okinawan martial arts master who influenced the development
of several major karate styles. He was known by many other names, including
Aragaki Tsuji Pechin Seisho. 1840 – 1918) (Arakaki Ou, Mayā Arakaki, Arakaki Kamadeunchu, Aragaki
Tsuji Pechin Seisho)
Arakaki was born in 1840 in either Kumemura village, Okinawa, or on the
nearby island of Sesoku. He was an official in the royal court of Okinawa,
and as such held the title of Chikudon Peichin, which denoted a status
similar to that of the samurai in Japan.
On 24 March 1867, he demonstrated Okinawan martial arts in Shuri City,
then capital of the Ryūkyū Kingdom, before a visiting Chinese ambassador;
this was a notable event, since experts such as Asato Ankō, Itosu Ankō,
and Matsumura Sōkon were still active at that time.
Arakaki served as a Chinese language interpreter, and travelled to Beijing
in September 1870. His only recorded martial arts instructor from this
period was Wai Xinxian from Fuzhou, a city in the Fujian province of Qing
Dynasty China. Arakaki died in 1918.
Arakaki was famous for teaching the kata (patterns) Unshu, Seisan, Shihohai,
Niseishi, and Sanchin (which were later incorporated into different styles
of karate), and weapons kata Arakaki-no-kun, Arakaki-no-sai, and Sesoku-no-kun.
While he did not develop any specific styles himself, his techniques and
kata are scattered through a number of modern karate and kobudo styles.
Arakaki's students included Higaonna Kanryō (1853–1916; founder of Naha-te), Funakoshi Gichin (1868–1957; founder of Shotokan), Uechi Kanbun
(1877–1948; founder of Uechi-ryū), Kanken Tōyama (1888–1966; founder of
Shūdōkan), Mabuni Kenwa (1889–1952; founder of Shitō-ryū), and
Chitose Tsuyoshi (1898–1984; founder of Chitō-ryū)Some consider Chitō-ryū
the closest existing style to Arakaki's martial arts, while others have
noted that Arakaki's descendants are mostly involved with Gōjū-ryū.
||Higaonna (Higashionna) Kanryo (東恩納 寛量)
Higaonna (Higashionna) Kanryo (Higaonna Kanryō , also known as "Higashionna West", was a native of Nishi-shin-machi,
Naha, Okinawa. He was born in Nishimura, Naha to a merchant family, whose
business was selling firewood, an expensive commodity in the Ryukyu Islands.
He founded the fighting style later to be known as Gōjū ryū karate March 10, 1853 - December 1916)
The characters of his family name are pronounced "Higaonna" in
Okinawan, and "Higashionna" in Japanese. In Western articles
the two spellings are often used interchangeably. He had an older relative,
5 years older, called Higaonna Kanryu who lived in Higashimura and was
known as "Higashionna East"
In 1867 he began to study Monk Fist Boxing (Luohan Quan) from Aragaki Tsuji
Pechin Seisho who was a fluent Chinese speaker and interpreter for the
Ryukyu court At that time the word karate was not in common use, and the
martial arts were often referred to simply as Te ("hand"), sometimes
prefaced by the area of origin, as Naha-te, Shuri-te, or simply Okinawa-te
.In September 1870, Higaonna was petitioned to go to Beijing as a translator
for Okinawan officials. In March 1873 he sailed to Fuzhou in the Fukien
province of China.
Aragaki had given Higaonna an introduction to the martial arts master Kojo
Taitei whose dojo was in Fuzhou. Higaonna spent his time studying with
various teachers of the Chinese martial arts, the first four years he probably
studied with Wai Xinxian, Kojo Tatai and or Iwah at the Kojo Dojo. Kanryo
then trained under Ru Ru Ko (a.k.a. Ruru Ko, Ryu Ryu Ko, To Ru Ko, or Lu
Lu Ko, his name was never recorded as Kanryo Higaonna was illiterate. His
real name was probably Xie Zhongxiang founder of Whooping Crane gongfu).
According to oral account Kanryo spent years doing household chores for
master Ru Ru Ko, until he saved his daughter from drowning during a heavy
flood and begged the master to teach Kung-fu as a reward.
In the 1880s Kanryo returned to Okinawa and continued the family business.
He also began to teach the martial arts in and around Naha. His style was
distinguished by its integration of both go-no (hard) and ju-no (soft)
techniques in one system. He became so prominent that the name "Naha-te"
became identified with Higaonna Kanryo's system.
Kanryo was noted for his powerful Sanchin kata, or form. Students reported
that the wooden floor would be hot from the gripping of his feet.
Several of Kanryo's students went on to become influential masters of what
came to be called karate, amongst them Chōjun Miyagi, Kenwa Mabuni, Kyoda
Shigehatsu, Koki Shiroma, Higa Seiko, and Shiroma Shinpan (Gusukuma)
||Chōjun Miyagi (宮城 長順)
Chōjun Miyagi (Miyagi Chōjun was an Okinawan martial artist who founded the Goju-ryu school of karate April 25, 1888—October 8, 1953)
Miyagi was born in Higashimachi, Naha, Okinawa on April 25, 1888, the adopted
son of a wealthy businessman. He began his study in Karate-do at the age
of nine (or fourteen). He first learned martial arts from Ryuko Aragaki,
who then introduced him to Kanryo Higashionna when Miyagi was 14. Under
his tutelage, Miyagi underwent a very long and arduous period of training.
His training with Higaonna was interrupted for a two-year period while
Miyagi completed his military service, 1910-1912, in Miyakonojo, Miyazaki
In 1915, after the death of Kanryo Higashionna, Miyagi travelled to Fujian
Province. In China he studied the Shaolin
and Pa Kua(Ba gua) forms of Chinese boxing. From the blending of these
systems, the hard linear/external form of
Shaolin, the soft circular/internal form of Pa Kua, and his native Naha-Te,
a new system emerged. However, it was
not until 1929 that Chojun Miyagi named the system Goju-ryu, meaning "hard
After some years in China, Chōjun Miyagi returned to Naha where he opened
a dojo (training hall). He taught for many years, gaining an enormous reputation
as a karateka. Despite his reputation, his greatest achievements lie in
popularization and the organization of karate teaching methods. He introduced
karate into Okinawa police work, high schools and other fields of society.
He revised and further developed Sanchin - the hard aspect of Goju, and
created Tensho - the soft aspect. These kata are considered to contain
the essence of the Goju-ryu. The highest kata, Suparinpei is said to contain
the full syllabus of Goju-ryu. Shisochin was Miyagi's favorite kata at
the end of his years. Tensho was influenced by the White Crane kata Ryokushu,
which he learned from his long-time friend Gokenki. With the goal of unification
of various karate styles which was in fashion at that time (see Gichin
Funakoshi for his works in Japan), he also created more Shurite-like katas
Gekisai Dai Ichi and Gekisai Dai Ni in 1940, taking techniques from higher
forms (notably Suparinpei, and upper blocks uncommon for Goju-ryu at that
time) and incorporating them into a shorter forms. It is said he created
these kata to bridge the gap between Sanchin and Saifa, which contains
much more complex moves compared to Sanchin. However, Gekisai katas are
learned before Sanchin now.
Miyagi died in Okinawa on October 8, 1953 from a second heart-attack (the first had occurred in 1951).
Some of Miyagi's more notable students were: Seko Higa (his oldest student
and also a student of Kanryo Higaonna), Miyazato Ei'ichi (founder of the
Jundokan dojo), Meitoku Yagi (founder of the Meibukan dojo, who eventually
accepted Miyagi's gi and obi from Miyagi's family), Seikichi Toguchi (founder
of Shorei-kan Goju-ryu), and on the Japanese mainland Gōgen Yamaguchi who
was the founder of the International Karate do Goju Kai Association and
who after training with Miyagi, became the representative of Gōjū-ryū in
Japan. At a later date Gōgen Yamaguchi invested much time studying Kata
under Meitoku Yagi.He also trained other students who went on to create
their own styles, such as Shimabuku Tatsuo (Isshinryu).
"Let me first say that I was not named the successor of goju-ryu by Miyagi,
but nor was anyone else. There are some goju-ryu teachers who claim to have been
privately appointed successor by Miyagi. These claims are ludicrous and
disrespectful of his memory. He never publicly named anyone as successor. Common
sense would dictate that if he were to appoint someone, it would have been a
longtime student and it would have to be of public record to have any value.
Miyagi was not a man to do things in a haphazard manner - everything was very
deliberate and precise.
It would also be logical to assume that since Miyagi would not grant dan ranking, how then would he be inclined to name a successor? I feel Miyagi would be rolling in his grave with the plethora of ridiculous claims about this matter." - Seikichi Toguchi
|Nakaima Norisato(Nakaima Kenri)
Ryuei-ryu (劉衛流, Ryūei-ryū ) is an Okinawan style of karate. It was originally a family style of the
Nakaima family of Naha and is now one of the internationally recognized
Okinawan karate styles. It is practiced in the United States, Argentina,
Venezuela, Europe, and Okinawa
The originator of the Ryueiryu method was the Okinawan Nakaima Norisato
(also known as Kenri). Born December, 1819 into a considerably wealthy
family (by the Okinawan standards of the time). He developed a passion
for the martial arts at a young age, and was known throughout the village
of Kumemura (Kume) as a devoted practitioner of the cultural as well as
The area called Kume in Naha was settled by Chinese (often referred to as the
"Thirty-six family names") from Fukien (Fukuken, Fukuken-sho), China about 600
years ago. Being born and brought up in the area under deep influence from China
for a long time, Norisato was very familiar with Chinese cultural ways and could
speak and communicate freely in at least one dialect of the language.
It is known that the last Satsufu-shi (*Chinese ambassadors) were sent to
Okinawa in 1866, In 503 years (from 1372 to 1876 when Japan discontinued the
relationship with the King Dynasty) about the same number of military officers
as ambassadors were sent to Ryukyu.
Reportedly, when Norisato was 18 years old, he heard that the military
officers were practicing martial arts every day and visited the practice area.
Since no formal dojo existed during this period, Norisato, interested in martial
arts, was watching the practice over the fence. Then one of the officers noticed
Norisato and the yuchi (general) eventually noticed the potential and talent of
the young Norisato.
With the help of a Chinese military envoy to Okinawa who provided the
appropriate letter of introduction and one year of preparation, Nakaima left his
native Okinawa for China to study the martial arts. At the age of nineteen, The
tall, well built Nakaima was accepted as a disciple of the Chinese Master Ru Ru
Ko, who at the time was the lead instructor at the Military Academy in Beijing.
Alongside Nakaima was good friend Sakiyama Kitoku, who also left Okinawa to
study in China, but reportedly returned to the island after a comparatively
short time and was not admitted to the same training.
Norisato originally intended to learn Chinese Martial Arts as a method of
personal protection, he became heavily influenced by his teacher gradually
studying deeply the military subjects required for Chinese military officers.
Subjects ranged from complex military strategies to astrology and holistic
healing methods, which are still preserved within the system today.
After seven years of diligent study under the master, Nakaima graduated and
was awarded his masters teaching degree at, or around the age of twenty six. At
this time he was given some secret books. As customary in China, his instructor
only trusted his most dedicated pupil with these guarded texts. Contained in
these books was a wealth of information on the civil combative traditions of
China. Some of these books* were entitled “Bubishi”, “Hyoronshi”, “Kokutski”,
“Kenyushin” and “Yojoho” and are only recently being discovered and appreciated
by many of the older and more advanced practitioners of the fighting arts of
China and Okinawa throughout the world today. Before he returned to his
homeland, Nakaima traveled “for training purposes” throughout the Fukien, Canton
and Beijing areas of China. There he saw many unique methods of training and
embraced many teachings. Additionally, he collected many weapons from the
various areas he visited and incorporated them into his personal system of
Chinese boxing. Before leaving China, the customary vow of secrecy was taken by
Nakaima, who realizing the tense political climate of the day, never broke this
The system that Nakaima devised and learned was taught only to his son
Noritada (Kenchu;1856 -1953), but only after making a pledge of secrecy to
maintain the great tradition to which he now belonged. Noritada, keeping this
oath, only taught his own son Noritaka (Kenko) and grandchildren, who also took
the family oath of secrecy. While Nakaima Noritada (Kenchu) had no other
students, he was regarded as a master of martial arts by all his contemporaries
and was respected by all who knew him.
The young Nakaima Noritaka also developed a keen interest in budo, studying
other Karate and kobudo styles as well as kendo under popular instructors.
However, it was Nakaima Noritaka was the first family member to break the
family tradition and at the age of 60, fearing that the family art would
be lost, accepted a small group of outside students. These students were
all school teachers, who Nakaima felt “possessed the necessary character,
education and background to continue the teachings in the proper manner”.
Nakaima did much to assist with the development of many of today’s leaders
throughout Okinawa and Japan
According to numerous senior instructors of various styles that were well
acquainted with Nakaima Kenko (including Shorinryu leader Nakazato Shugoro),
Nakaima reportedly never taught much Ryueiryu to children apart from his own
sons, nor owned a dojo, although he often shared the training hall of Nakamura
Shigeru and others. Nakaima was well respected in his region and helped with the
organization of the Okinawa Kenpo school, and others. A professional educator
and of a higher social status than many of his contemporaries, Nakaima held
strong convictions regarding the responsibilities of a martial artist and
teacher. This unique background and uncompromising standard set Nakaima apart
from many islanders that sought the development of martial arts for financial
gain in the wake of the Second World War.
Nakaima Kenko was a well respected leader in the Okinawan martial arts
community and was a key figure in the growth of several organized movements of
the late 1950’s through the 1960’s. He remained an important figure in the
development of martial arts on Okinawa until his death in 1989. The current
leader of the system is Nakaima Kenji, the 5th generation Soke of the family art
and a well accomplished martial arts master in his own right, respected
Currently, the Nakaima family has disassociated itself from the sport Karate
groups and maintains no affiliation, other than supporting the endeavors of
previous students of Nakaima. The teachings of the art of Ryueiryu as practiced
by the Nakaima family adhere to the code of martial virtue contrasting greatly
from the competitive mindset. Karate, as practiced in the Nakaima Family
original art is complete physical art form, a wonderful discipline of health as
well as a way of life. As such, students of authentic Ryueiryu believe that a
real martial artist trained in the tradition should be modest and never brag
about his own achievements or proficiency, always keeping in mind the example
and directions of our predecessors. A martial artist should be ready to learn
from others and strive to learn from every situation in both training and
Most written information widely available in the English language about
the Ryuei Ryu system is, to a large degree, inaccurate. There are more
kata that are contained in the system, various categories of martial strategy
and technique, health and wellness practices and other methods that make
the system an obviously Chinese based martial arts system, as opposed to
a "style" of karate. Adding to the confusion of the published
information previously available about the Ryuei Ryu are the writings and
video efforts of former world renowned Karate competitor Tsuguo Sakumoto
of Japan, both of which only demonstrate a variation of the Karate that
he personally learned from Kenko Nakaima, re-arranged for modern sports
Today, legitimate Ryuei Ryu remains a relatively unknown combative system of
Chinese origin, with a few of the style's more unique kata being modified for
sports competition. This is largely due to the introduction of the art into the
sport karate arena during the mid 1980's by several of the students of Nakaima
The following video from Tsuguo Sakumoto Sensei has no mention of several
people who claim to be instructors for the Ryuei Ryu system that are in the US
and abroad. Also explains that his Ryuei Ryu is his version, and not the only
Kanbun Uechi (上地 完文)
Kanbun Uechi (Uechi Kanbun, was the founder of Uechi-ryū, one of the primary karate styles of Okinawa. May 5, 1877 – November 25, 1948)
Kanbun grew up in the mountain farming village of Izumi on the Motobu peninsula
of Okinawa. Uechi's family were farmers of daikon radishes.
In his youth, Uechi studied bōjutsu with Motobu experts.
Japan began a program of universal male conscription in Okinawa in the
late 1800s. In 1897 at the age of 19, Kanbun fled to Fuzhou in Fukien Province,
China both to escape Japanese military conscription and to fulfill his
dreams of studying martial arts with Chinese masters.Upon arrival in China,
Uechi initially took up the study of Kojo Ryū, but dojo management mocked
him for a speech impediment and the offended Uechi sought training elsewhere.
Kanbun Uechi studied Pangai-noon (half-hard, half-soft) under Shushiwa in the Fujian (a.k.a. Fukien) province of mainland China in the late 19th century and early 20th century. After studying 10 years under Shushiwa, Kanbun Uechi opened his own school in the province of Nanjing. Two years later, Kanbun Uechi returned to Okinawa, determined never to teach again because one of his Chinese students had killed a neighbour with an open-hand technique in a dispute over land irrigation. While he was working as a janitor he was persuaded by a co-worker, Ryuyu Tomoyose, to teach again after having been first convinced to show Tomoyose ways of defending himself against different attacks. When his confidence as a teacher was restored, Uechi, with the help of Ryuyu Tomoyose, moved to Wakayama City, Wakayama Prefecture, where, in 1925, he established the Institute of Pangainun-ryū (half-hard half-soft) Todi-jutsu, and opened a dojo to the public. Eventually, in 1940, his Okinawan students renamed the system as "Uechi Ryū".
Kanbun Uechi's son, Kanei Uechi, taught the style at the Futenma City Dojo,
Okinawa, and was considered the first Okinawan to sanction teaching foreigners.
One of Kanbun's students, Ryuko Tomoyose, taught a young American serviceman
named George Mattson who authored several books on the subject and is largely
responsible for popularizing the style in America. Uechi Ryū emphasizes
toughness of body with quick blows and kicks. Some of the more distinctive
weapons of Uechi practitioners are the one-knuckle punch (shoken), spearhand
(nukite), and the toe kick (shomen geri). On account of this emphasis on
simplicity, stability, and a combination of linear and circular movements,
proponents claim the style is more practical for self-defense than most
other martial arts.
In contrast to the more linear styles of karate based on Okinawan Shuri-te
or Tomari-te, Uechi Ryū's connection with Chinese Nanpa Shorin-ken means
the former shares a similar foundation with Naha-Te (and thus with Goju-ryu)
despite their separate development. Thus, Uechi Ryū is also heavily influenced
by the circular motions which belong to the kung fu from Fujian province.
Uechi Ryū is principally based on the movements of 3 animals: the Tiger,
the Dragon, and the Crane
||Juhatsu Kyoda (許田 重発)
Juhatsu Kyoda (Kyoda Juhatsu entered the dojo of Higaonna Kanryō in 1902 and continued studying with him until Kanryō's death in 1915. One month after Kyoda started, Miyagi Chōjun (co-founder of Gōjū-ryū) entered the dojo. In 1908, Kenwa Mabuni (founder of Shitō-ryū) also joined the dojo of Higaonna Kanryō. December 5, 1887–August 31, 1968)
Tōon-ryū (東恩流, Tōu'on-ryū ) is a style of Okinawan Karate founded by Juhatsu Kyoda. In 1934 Kyoda received his Kyoshi license from the Dai Nippon Butoku Kai.
The Tōon-ryū kata and training drills consist of: Ten-I-Happo, Tsuki-Uke (Shiho-Uke), Kiso I & II, Sanchin, Sesan, Sanseru, Pechurin, Jion, & Nepai. Apparently Kyoda knew two versions of Seisan: one from Higaonna Kanryō and one from Higaonna Kanryu, but only passed on the Kanyu version. He learned Jion from Kentsū Yabu. By far Higaonna Kanryō had the most profound impact on him as Kyoda devoted well over a decade of his life to learning Kanryō’s karate. He ultimately named his style after him: Tō-on-ryū (literally ‘Higaon[na] style’).
Kyoda's tradition was carried on by Iraha Choko, Kyoda Juko (3rd son), and Kanzaki Shigekazu. The current Sōke of Tōon-ryū today is Kanzaki Shigekazu, and the chief instructor is Ikeda Shigenori
Sekō (Seiko) Higa (比嘉 世幸)
Sekō (Seiko) Higa (Higa Sekō was a Gojū Ryū karate teacher who was born in Naha. November 8, 1898–April 16, 1966)
At age 13 he began to study under Higaonna Kanryō until Higaonna's death
4 years later. He continued his studies with Miyagi Chōjun for 38 years
until Miyagi's death. Among Higa's students were Choboku Takamine, his
son Seikichi Higa (who carried on his father's dojo in Okinawa), Kanki
Izumigawa who spread Goju-Ryu in mainland Japan Kawasaki area, Seiichi
Akamine (creator of the Ken-Shin-Kan, spread Karate-do in South America).
Seikichi Toguchi (creator of the Shoreikan), Choyu Kiyuna, Seitoku Matayoshi,
Seiko Fukuchi (1919-1975), Eiki Kurashita, Zensei Gushiken, Izumi and others
that carried on the Goju-ryu Kokusai Karate Kobudo Renmei.
||Shinpan Gusukuma (城間 真繁)
Shinpan Gusukuma (Shiroma Shinpan,, also known as Shinpan Shiroma by the Japanese, was an Okinawan martial artist who studied Shōrin-ryū karate as a student of Ankō Itosu. Gusukuma also trained under Higaonna Kanryō in the Naha-te style. Gusukuma went on to establish Shitō-ryū with Kenwa Mabuni.Gusukuma Shinpan born in 1890 in the town of Tairain Shuri,Okinawa 1890–1954)
At the age of thirteen, he began the study of karate with Anko Itosu,
and in 1908 he began training with Kanryo Higaonna, along with Kenwa Mabuni.
In 1909 at the age of eighteen, Shipan was inducted into the Japanese Navy.
He became a school teacher by profession and worked as a professor in the
Shuri Dai Ichi Elementary School where he also taught karate. He was also
known for his skills as an acupuncturistand taught the art.Shinpan began
teaching Shorin-ryu shortly after World War II and was associated with
Miyagi Chojun, Kyoda Jyuhatsu and Kyan Chotoku. He taught regularly at
Shuri Castle and had a dojo at his home in Nishihara City.
| On Okinawa, there were two branches of Shito-Ryu, one founded by Shinpan
Shiroma and the other by Kenwa Mabuni. Because he continued to maintain
schools only in Okinawa, Shinpan created the only known Okinawan branch
of Shitō-ryū. He established an organization called the Shinpan Shiroma
Shito-ryu Preservation Society to assist with his teaching and served as
Shinpan suffered during the Battle of Okinawa and lost many of his students,
but after World War II, he reopened his dojo in Shuri.Shinpan died in 1954
at the age of 64. He taught class and trained for two hours on the day
of his death, ate a light dinner and went to bed early. Three hours later
his wife found that he had died in his sleep. His student Horoku Ishikawa
continued his branch of Shito-ryu.
||Gōgen Yamaguchi (山口剛玄)
Gōgen Yamaguchi (Yamaguchi Gōgen; b.20 January 1909 d.20 May 1989. was
a world renown Grandmaster of Japanese Karate-dō and founder of the International
Karate-dō Gōjū-kai Association; he was one of the most well known of all
Karate-dō masters to come out of Japan. Prior to his death he was decorated
by the Emperor of Japan in 1968 with the Ranju-Houshou,(translation- Blue
Ribbon Medal) and the fifth order of merit, for his enormous contribution
to the spread world wide of the Japanese martial arts. For many years Gōgen
Yamaguchi was listed in the Guinness Book of Records regarding his rank
and achievements. According to his obituary, "His name was a household
word in Karate circles, and he appeared in all the major Martial Arts magazines
and publications, both in Japan and the western world."
According to his autobiographical work: Karate Gojū-ryū by the Cat Tokyo,
Japan (1963), Gōgen Yamaguchi was born on January 20 in 1909 in Miyakonojō
Shonai, Miyazaki Prefecture, Japan, near Kagoshima City on the island of
Kyūshū. In his 5th year of primary school Yamaguchi commenced his karate-dō
training under the guidance of Takeo Maruta, a carpenter joiner from Okinawa.
Maruta was a Gōjū-ryū practitioner.
Gōgen Yamaguchi was named Jitsumi Yamaguchi by his father Tokutarō who was a merchant and later a schoolteacher and superintendent; his mother was Yoshimatsu. Jitsumi was their 3rd son and there were ten children in this very large Japanese family.
Gōgen Yamaguchi was also famously known in the world of karate-dō as ‘the
Cat’; he was a very small man, just over five feet and a mere 160 pounds,
however he projected the impression of great bulk and an aura reminiscent of the
samurai era. He was first dubbed 'the Cat' by American GI’s for his gliding walk
and flowing hair. He alone was primarily responsible for the spread of Gōjū-ryū
throughout the world today whereby hundreds of thousands of practitioners have
experienced some form of training within traditional and non-traditional karate
According to Gōgen Yamaguchi himself when interviewed by French magazine
Karate journalist Rolland Gaillac, April 1977 edition , he stated: "Even
today, young man, if you were to face me in combat, I would be able to
determine in a second the strength of your Ki. Immediately I would know
if you were a good opponent. It is this quality, and no other, which has
given me the name of The Cat."
Gōgen then began the serious study of karate-dō with Sensei Takeo Maruta
after his family relocated to Kyoto. Maruta was also a carpenter or joiner
by trade and was himself a student of the legendary Chōjun Miyagi of Okinawa.
Gōgen Yamaguchi studied directly with Chōjun Miyagi later in 1929, after
he and his then-current teacher and friend Jitsuei Yogi wrote to Chōjun
Miyagi and invited him to come to Japan.
Chōjun Miyagi visited the university dojo of Kansai, Osaka, Ritsumeikan,
Kyoto, and Doshisha Universities, whilst Gōgen was attending Ritsumeikan
University in Kyoto. There he studied Law and in 1930 Yogi together with
Gōgen Yamaguchi co-founded the Ritsumeikan daigaku karate kenkyū-kailit. Ritsumeikan University Karate Research Association), the first karate club at Ritsumeikan
University. The Ritsumeikan Karate-dō Kenkyū-kai was the first university karate
club in western Japan and was infamous for its hard style training and fierce
karate fighters. Both Yogi and Yamaguchi attended Ritsumeikan University during
the time Chōjun Miyagi visited, and Chōjun Miyagi stayed in Yogi’s
Chōjun Miyagi later gave Gōgen Yamaguchi the responsibility for spreading
Gōjū-ryū in mainland Japan. In the early 1930’s Gōgen designed what would
become the legendary signature Gōjū-ryū fist. It is said to be modeled
after the right hand fist of Chōjun Miyagi.
After graduating from Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto in 1934, that same year
Gōgen designed and introduced Jiyū-kumite which has become known today as sport
and tournament fighting kumite.In 1935 he officially formed the All Japan
Karate-dō Gōjū-kai Karate-dō Association (which later split into the JKF Gojukai
and the J.K.G.A.) Also in 1935 Gōgen began his travels with the Japanese
government as an intelligence officer and his first son Norimi Gōsei Yamaguchi
was born (Gōsei is the current leader of Gōjū-kai USA).
During his military tour in Manchuria in World War II, Gōgen was captured
by the Soviet military in 1942 and incarcerated as a prisoner of war in
a Russian concentration camp; it was here that he battled and defeated
a live tiger according to his autobiography (cited above). Gōgen Yamaguchi
was originally targeted for hard labour in the POW camp however he had
impressed even these hard nosed Russians and who discovered who he was
and requested that he teach karate-dō to the Russian soldiers, it was then
that, 'the prisoner became the master of the guards, who became his students'.
In 1945, Gōgen returned to Japan where he re-opened his initial karate-dō
dojo in Nippori which was later destroyed by fire, and advertised with
a sign outside reading Gōjū-ryū-kai. Many people thought his school was
closed forever and that he had been killed in the war; accordingly Gōgen
held large exhibitions in Tokyo which showcased the various Chinese and
Japanese martial arts that he had experienced. His school reopened and
moved at a later date to the Suginami-ku area of Tokyo. Here he quickly
expanded throughout a network of independent Gōjū-ryū dojo. The rapid growth
and expansion was reinforced by Gōgen's energetic and forceful persona
which resulted in a worldwide network of karate schools which he alone
built into a powerful martial arts empire.
Mention must be made here of Gōgen Yamaguchi's legendary discussion noted
in his autobiography regarding his military duty in Manchuria during World
War II, whereby Gōgen was a prisoner of War of the Soviet Army in 1942
and incarcerated at a Russian concentration camp; it was here that he admitted
having battled and defeated a live tiger, after he was locked in a cell
with the beast which his captors expected would devour him. Certainly this
admission has created much controversy, however Russian sources from the
time would need to be located in order to verify the extent of the veracity
of this event.
Gōgen Yamaguchi established the Gōjū-kai Headquarters in Suginami-ku, Tokyo,
Japan, nearby to the busy shopping precinct of Roppongi. It was also at
this time that he registered the name Gōjū-ryū formally with the Butoku-kai,
(the official government body and Headquarters for the Japanese Martial
Arts). By 1950 Gōjū-kai Headquarters was officially relocated to the Suginami
Tokyo school which contributed to an almost tripling of membership to 450,000
according to his autobiography. Five years later he officially chartered
the I.K.G.A. Later in 1964, Gōgen Yamaguchi along with other founder members
Ōtsuka Hironori from Wadō-ryū; Nakayama Masatoshi from Shotokan; Mabuni
Kenei and Iwata Manzao of Shitō-ryū, unified all the karate dojo in Japan
to form the All Japan Karate-dō Federation which is still in existence
today as the Japan Karate Federation (JKF).Gōgen Yamaguchi's contributions
to Gōjū-ryū karate-dō and to karate-dō in general have been enormous. Under
his leadership and guidance the International Karate-dō Gōjū-kai Association
(I.K.G.A) has developed and thrived. The organization has increased in
popularity both in Japan and other Asian and Western countries throughout
the world. By 2008 there were approximately 60-70 countries teaching the
Gōjū-kai karate-dō principles and training methods. Gōgen Yamaguchi succeeded
in unifying all the karate schools in Japan into a single union which resulted
in the formation of The Federation of All Japan Karate-dō Organization
(F.A.J.K.O.) in 1964. The Kokusai Budō Renmei - (The International Martial
Arts Federation) in Japan, whose chairman was Prince Higashikuni of the
Japanese Imperial Family appointed Master Yamaguchi as a Shihan - Master
of that organisation's karate-dō division. Yamaguchi added to the Gōjū
system the Taikyoku kata forms, - training methods for the beginner students
to prepare them for the more advanced kata.
Gōgen Yamaguchi Kaiso died on the 20th of May 1989. He had been married
twice, firstly to Midori (who still lives on the island of Kyushu), with
whom he had four children: Gōsei Norimi Yamaguchi (b.1935), Gōsen Kishio
Yamaguchi (1940-1990), Makiko Yamaguchi, and Gōshi Hirofumi Yamaguchi (b.1942).
He and his second wife, Mitsue, had one child, Gōkyōko Wakako Yamaguchi.
All of his children practiced karate-dō and became Masters in their own
right. The names commencing with gō were their karate names. Gōsei Norimi
Yamaguchi has his own organisation in the United States and Gōshi Hirofumi
Yamaguchi is the President of the International Karate-dō Gōjū-kai, with
branches in 60 countries. Gōsen Kishio Yamaguchi was the Vice President
of Japan Airlines. Kishio, who died in the early 1990s, was deeply involved
in the running of the I.K.G.A whilst his youngest sister Wakako Yamaguchi
was an All Japan Kata Champion for a number of years. Makiko Yamaguchi
died from cancer at a relatively young age during the early 1980s
Seikichi Toguchi (b. May 20, 1917 in Naha City, Okinawa, Japan - d. August
31, 1998 in Tokyo) was the founder of Shorei-kan karate.
As a young boy, Toguchi learned the basic techniques of Okinawan Te from
his father. In 1930, at the age of 15, he began his lifelong study of Gōjū-ryū
karate at the dojo of Sekō Higa and later under Chojun Miyagi as one of
his principal students. He studied under Higa for over 33 years and under
Miyagi for more than 25 years, making his karate education unique. Toguchi
was fortunate as Miyagi was a personal friend of Toguchi's father and so
paid many visits to the family. At these times the conversation nearly
always turned to karate and the discussions would go on till the early
hours of the morning.
Toguchi continued his full-time study of karate until the beginning of
World War II, when he was drafted into the army as an electrical engineer
and stationed in Sumatra, Indonesia.
In 1946 he returned to Okinawa to find a devastated people and homeland. Miyagi had lost three children and one of his senior students, Jinan Shinsato. Higa had lost his wife. Miyagi began teaching at the police academy and Higa moved in with Toguchi. At this time Higa also played matchmaker and introduced Toguchi to a young girl named Haruko, soon to be his wife.
In 1949, with the help of Toguchi, Higa opened up a new dojo and Toguchi
was appointed Shihan. Before his death, Miyagi passed on all his advanced
kata and teachings to Toguchi, one of the more important being kaisai no
genri. This teaching explains how to unlock the hidden techniques of the
koryu kata. In 1953, after the death of Miyagi, his senior students formed
the Karate-Do Goju Association with Meitoku Yagi as chairman and Seikichi
Toguchi as Vice Chairman.
In 1954 Toguchi opened up the first Shorei-kan dojo (House of politeness
and respect) in Koza City, Okinawa. The Shorei-kan dojo was very close
to the American military base (Kadena Air Base) and the Americans showed
a great interest in the martial arts. With an increasing western population
in his dojo, Toguchi found it necessary to devise a progressive teaching
method to overcome the language barrier. Expanding on Miyagi's vision,
Toguchi further developed a system of progressive kata and added bunkai
and kiso kumite to help explain application of the kata. Many of the early
pioneers of Okinawan karate in the US studied with Toguchi.
In 1956 the Okinawan Karate-Do Federation was formed and Toguchi was installed as a member of the board of directors. By 1960 Toguchi decided to move to mainland Japan to spread the art of karate and Shorei-kan. During the coming years he would move between Okinawa in the winter and Tokyo in the summer. He first practiced outdoors at the Hikawa Shrine where he developed the kata Hakitsuru. In 1962 the first Shorei-kan dojo was opened in Tokyo in Meguro Borough and in 1966 Shorei-kan Hombu Dojo Tokyo was built with the help of Tamano Construction (founded by Toshio Tamano's father).
Although there were Shorei-kan students and instructors already in the
US, in 1969 Toguchi sent Toshio Tamano to the US as the representative
of Shorei-kan, and in 1972 Tomaki Koyabu was sent to Canada to spread Shorei-kan
Karate. Over the following years Toguchi and his wife Haruko Toguchi traveled
numerous times to both Canada and the US. Later on Tamano moved to Milan,
Italy to spread Shorei-kan throughout Europe and Scott Lenzi is now the
representative of the U.S. and South America. The representative of Canada
is now Vic Hargitt and Haribabu represents Asia and Vahitha Haribabu represents
India. Haribabu was the last person to receive the shihan title from Toguchi
Meitoku Yagi (八木明徳)
Meitoku Yagi (八木明徳 Yagi Meitoku, March 6, 1912 - February 7, 2003) was born in Naha, Okinawa. Yagi learned Goju-ryu from its legendary founder Chojun Miyagi.
Yagi's lineage can be traced back to 36 Chinese families that immigrated
to Okinawa in 1392. Also, his family can be linked to Jayana Ueekata, who
was highly respected as a budoka in the Ryukyu Islands in the 17th century.
Yagi is the 21st generation from that family.
Yagi began training under Miyagi when he was 14 years old. Miyagi was impressed
by his dedication and hard work, and eventually taught him all the kata
in the Goju-ryu syllabus. Normally, Miyagi would only teach Sanchin to
his pupils for several years, and even then he might only teach them Seisan
After Miyagi's death in 1953, Yagi opened his own dojo in the Daido district
of Naha. He named his school of Goju-ryu Meibukan, meaning "house
of the pure minded warrior." The name and crest of his school both
utilise the first kanji in his name, Mei, which has several meanings, including
purity. It is made up of the kanji for sun and the kanji for moon, reflecting
the duality of nature, which is inherent to Goju-ryu. Today, the main headquarters
for the Meibukan school are in the Kume district of Naha.On April 29, 1986,
Emperor Hirohito named Yagi a Living National Treasure (ningen kokuho)
for his contributions to the martial arts.To complement his karate training,
Yagi enjoyed many activities including shodo, playing the piano and shamisen,
and chinese chess.
Meitoku Yagi began developing a series of kata in the 1970s and 1980s,
which he named Meibuken kata. The first of which is Tenchi, meaning "heaven
and earth." It was originally two kata, Fukyu kata ichi and Fukyu
kata ni. The two kata can be put together so that if two karateka were
to perform each half an attack in the first kata would correspond with
a block in the second, for example. The Meibuken kata are different from
the kata in the Goju-ryu syllabus in many ways, including having vertical
closed hand chambers, and having a different yoi position, reflecting Yagi
Sensei's Chinese roots, and his time spent studying martial arts there.
The other four Meibuken kata represent the four guardians of the cardinal
directions in Chinese mythology. As with Ten no kata and Chi no kata, the
other four pair up as well to show the kata’s bunkai. Seiryu (East, Blue
Dragon) and Byakko (West, White Tiger) go together, and Shujakku (South,
Red Phoenix) and Genbu (North, Black Tortoise) combine. Though those are
the English names generally used for the kata, Yagi Sensei once said that
he never specifically chose colours for the animals.
Yagi has three daughters, Chieko, Chikako and Chizuko; and two sons, Meitatsu
and Meitetsu. His sons’ birthdates are unique in that the day and month
of their births are the same–Yagi Meitatsu was born July 7, 1944 and Yagi
Meitetsu was born January 1, 1949. Currently Yagi Meitatsu is the president
of the IMGKA (International Meibukan Goju-ryu Karate Association), and
Yagi Meitetsu is the president of the Meibukan hombu dojo. In 1997 Yagi
promoted his eldest son, Meitatsu to Hanshi Judan. Before his death, Yagi
also promoted Meitetsu to Hanshi Judan in 2001, but it was only made known
In 2000, Yagi released an autobiography entitled The Life Drama of the
Man, Meitoku.Yagi's number one goal was for his students to promote peace,
be good people and contribute to society.In late 2002, he was 91 and still
performing demonstrations of katas. February 7, 2003 at 11:40 am, Dai Sensei
Meitoku Yagi died. At the time of his passing he was considered as the
most senior Karateka in the world.
Meitatsu Yagi, born July 7, 1944, is the eldest son of the late Meitoku
Yagi. Meitatsu did not read books or watch training videos to gain his
expertise in Karate. He was being tutored directly by the himself. By training
under his his father for over fifty years, he was groomed and trained to
carry on the legacy of Meibukan Gojyu-Ryu Karate. One of Yagi’s goals has
been to spread Meibukan Gojyu-Ryu Karate throughout the world. Yagi has
lived, worked, initiated new dojos and taught Meibukan in several places
outside of Okinawa and around the world. Yagi lived in the US from 1964
to 1970; in Guam 1971 to 1975; in Saipan 1995 to 1997 and in the Philippines
1997 to 1998. After returning from Guam in 1975, Yagi was given the title
of Renshi 6th Dan and became a Director of All Okinawan Karate-Do Association
in 1976. Also in 1976, he was given the teaching responsibilities at the
Hombu Dojo in Okinawa as President of Gojyu-Ryu Meibu-kai with Meitetsu
Yagi (his younger brother) as Vice-President and Meitoku Yagi as Chairman
Meitoku Yagi chose his eldest son Meitatsu to be the first to learn all
facets of Meibukan Gojyu-Ryu. He helped develop and teach all the kata,
Renzoku Kumite, Kakomi Kumite, Meibukan Bo, Meibukan Sai, Nihon Kumite,
Renzoku form and Kakomi forms. Although many profess to be Meibukan practitioners,
many have not learned or practiced the forms developed by him for his style.
These forms are an integral part of Meibukan Gojyu-Ryu.Meitatsu was also
a director of the All Okinawa Karate-Do Gojyu-Kai for 20 years. He also
served a two year term as President of the Okinawan Karate-Do Gojyu-Kai
in 1987 as well as President of the Hombu Dojo in Kume.
In 1995 Meitatsu worked in Saipan and the Philippines returning in 1998
to help care for his father who was ailing at the time. Meitoku YAGI gave
Meitatsu Yagi the title of Hanshi Judan, Okinawa Karate-Do Gojyu-Kai in
1997. Meitoku Yagi]] presented only one Hanshi Judan]]. Meitatsu Yagi travels
the world meeting and teaching hundreds of people each year in seminars
in India, Canada, Israel, Italy, the USA, England and France as well as
South America]].Meitatsu has also been very active in promoting the Okinawa
Traditional Karatedo Kobudo International Studying Center in Yomitan Village,
Okinawa. He is working with Kenyu CHINEN of Shorin-Ryu and Yasuo SHIMOJI
of Uechi Ryu. All three masters are traditional Okinawan teachers and are
working together to promote Okinawa Traditional Karate-Do and Kobudo in
Okinawa and around the world.In 2007, he published his second book on the
history and philosophy of Meibukan gojyu-ryu, entitled, "Importance
of Spiritual Karate".
Born in Shuri on Okinawa in 1889, Mabuni Sensei was a descendant of the
famous Onigusukini Samurai family. Perhaps because of his weak constitution,
he began his instruction in his home town in the art of Shuri-Te at the
age of 13, under the tutelage of the legendary Ankō Itosu (1813-1915).
He trained diligently for several years, learning many kata from this great
master. It was Itosu who first developed the Pinan kata, which were most
probably derived from the 'Kusanku' form.
One of his close friends, Sensei Chōjun Miyagi (founder of Gōjū-ryū) introduced
Mabuni to another great of that period, Sensei Higaonna Kanryōand began
to learn Naha-Te under him as well. While both Itosu and Higashionna taught
a 'hard-soft' style of Okinawan 'Te', their methods and emphases were quite
distinct: the Itosu syllabus included straight and powerful techniques
as exemplified in the Naifanchi and Bassai kata; the Higashionna syllabus,
on the other hand, stressed circular motion and shorter fighting methods
as seen in the popular Seipai and Kururunfa forms. Shitō-ryū focuses on
both hard and soft techniques to this day.Although he remained true to
the teachings of these two great masters, Mabuni sought instruction from
a number of other teachers; including Seishō Aragaki, Tawada Shimboku,
Sueyoshi Jino and Wu Xianhui (a Chinese master known as Go-Kenki). In fact,
Mabuni was legendary for his encyclopaedic knowledge of kata and their
| By the 1920s, he was regarded as the foremost authority on Okinawan kata
and their history and was much sought after as a teacher by his contemporaries.
There is even some evidence that his expertise was sought out in China,
as well as Okinawa and mainland Japan. As a police officer, he taught local
law enforcement officers and at the behest of his teacher Itosu, began
instruction in the various grammar schools in Shuri and Naha.
|JAPAN KARATE DO HAKUA-KAI MATSUBUSHI DOJO