From Naha-te to Goju-ryu

Okinawa Goju-ryu is a cultural heritage which has come to us from time immemorial. Today this style is really the international fighting art practised all over the world. It is possible to tell, that the history modern goju-ryu has begun since then as okinawan master Kanryo Higaonna has visited the Chinese province Fujan located in the south of China. There it in current of 15 years was trained at great master Ryu-Ryuko. Having returned home, Higaonna has started to teach karate in the city of Naha, and in a consequence this style has received the name Naha-te (" the Hand of the city of Naha ").

After returning from China, sensei Higaonna spent a lot of time for studying and working off Sanchin kata. It gave this power exercise so much to energy and forces, that sometimes forgot about meal. About this time its personal pupil became the young guy who subsequently has become by the keeper of traditions and the successor of the master. A name of this person – Chojun Miyagi.

In the dojo sensei Higaonna Kanryo first six months trained the pupils only unsoku ho (the basic complexes of movement of legs), repeating them again and again. Then working off Sanchin kata - the exercise including the control of breath, energy and strengthening of muscles followed. On studying Sanchin kata left from 3 till 4th years. Training Sanchin was so is severe, that on shoulders of pupils blood acted, sight grew dim, and legs were on the verge of wreck. After training in urine of some of pupils there was a blood. Trained it was not authorized to begin practice new kata while they did not seize correct steps, correct breath and did not develop a high degree of endurance. Sensei Higaonna was known in China and on Okinawa as an outstanding master of the fighting arts, therefore very much many came to it in dojo, trying to adopt its skill. But training was so rigid, that only the some people have remained with it up to the end. Ghojun Miyagi was one of the few who has passed a rate of its trainings and has remained with sensei Higaonna till last minutes its lives.

Сенсей Чодзюн МиягиSensei Chojun Miyagi was born on April, 25th, 1888 in the city of Naha in rich nobiliary family. In the age of 11 years he has started to train under direction of the master in karate Aragaki Ryuko. In dojo Miyagi basically was engaged with chishi, nigiri-game (adaptations for development of special fighting force) and with makiwara (a column for impacts) after some time, owing to persistent work and diligent employment, Miyagi has been presented to sensei Kanryo Higaonna who was the close friend and the colleague of his first teacher. However, despite of good recommendations, Higaonna long looked narrowly at the new pupil, forcing to perform the most difficult and unpleasant work on the house. And only having convinced of huge desire, patience and moral qualities  of Chojun Miyagi, sensei Higaonna has started the present training. From the earliest childhood Chojun Miyagi has been fanatically betraid to okinawan  fighting art, but trainings at Higaonna were so exhausting, what even it not time thought of throwing employment.

Сенсей Чодзюн Мияги. Занятия в додзе.For sensei Miyagi trainings were not limited to employment in dojo. Every day he ran in school and back, developing force and endurance of legs. Then he sent to harbour where, having adhered the big log to a neck, fulfilled movings from a rack in a rack, and also by means of inclinations developed force of muscles of a back, a neck and legs. After that sensei Miyagi passed to lifting of stones, some of which weighed more than 100 kg. If the stone was too heavy, he came back to it again and again from day in day while natural weight of a stone did not concede to patience and strength of mind of the master. Despite of additional physical preparation, he still considered trainings with Higaonna rigid and extremely heavy. During performance Sanchin kata the pressure of muscles demanded by sensei Higaonna, was so strong, that sometimes led to loss of consciousness. After evening trainings sensei Miyagi has been so exhausted, that hardly reached the house. Immensely tired, he climb up on steps in the room, should lift legs by means of hands. However and on it forces not always sufficed and the sensei fell asleep in vestibule till the morning. Higaonna trained the pupil seriously and carefully, transferring it all the knowledge which has been saved up by many generations of masters.

Sensei Higaonna has lead all life in persistent lasting many hours trainings, becoming one of few rather great masters. But the everyday overstrain has not passed gift, and in October, 1916 in the age of 63 years sensei Kanryo Higaonna has died.

After death of master Miyagi has continued employment, having addressed to the nature, as to the oldest and wise teacher. Often his trainings passed on seacoast where sensei Miyagi fulfilled "ki-ai" (outpouring of energy). His fighting shouts were so powerful and strong, that considerably blocked a roar of waves. In the same place there passed special training of eyes: translating a sight from nearby subjects on horizon and return simultaneously concentrating on the certain power centers, it developed so-called " the poisoned sight ". Remembering precepts of ancient masters to be engaged in severe wearisome conditions, sensei Miyagi practised kаta under a torrential rain and in midday heat; turned out technics, having come on a throat in water. Using every minute a daily life, the sensei incessantly trained. So, every time, passing by a stone fence, he striked on its blows by a shoulder, a back or a breast. Developing skill to fall, Miyagi, walking along the street suddenly rushed on a stone roadway and quickly being rolled rose on legs. Perceiving karate as complete fighting system, he never sat a back to a door or a window. Everyone goes to sleep, closely counted position of hands, legs and all body. Taking a morning shower, strolling on a room, approaching to a door, the sensei carefully thought over ways and ways of the possible attack, always ready to reflection of attack. Sometimes in the mornings Мiyagi asked the wife to open a curtain at a window to check up, whether he the first will feel a sound of an opening window or light going from a window before a sound. Once it has asked to open and close a curtain some times, and the wife has thought, that it goes mad. To sensei Miyagi for  his life there were many cases testifying to a high level of the master. In this clause we shall tell about one of them.

Being in the age of 25 or 26 years, Chojun Miyagi together with friend Mimi Unchu has gone to look cockfights which were very popular at that time on Okinawa, in Тоmari (one of areas Nahas). In that area of veins known enough master in karate Motobu Choki by nickname Сару (monkey). Мiyagi and Motobu never met before, but each of them was well known about reputation of another. When they have met, Мiyagi has noticed that at Motobu on the person a long cut to which medical grasses are enclosed. Later it has learned, that the cut is put as a result of vindictive fight in which opponent has cut Motobu with a stone. Having seen this wound, Мiyagi has thought about itself, that at Motobu bad times have come. But Mimi Unchu has softened spirit Motobu, having noticed: " About, you have again fought ". Motobu nothing having told, has turned conversation on a theme of cockfights. Then Motobu has turned to Мimi Unchu and has told, that it has studied new technics. Мimi Unchu has answered: " Can you will show us? " Motobu has risen, has looked on Мiyagi and has told: " Мachu, rise and approach here ". Spirit of Motobu under influence drunk sake was clear and has been caused by the fight which has offended it.

Reputation Cojun Miyagi as the fine expert of fighting arts it was widely known only in Naha, but also across all Okinawa. Motobu undoubtedly wished to learn the truth about this person and fighting art Naha-te. It intended to show the force and to enter into confusion Miyagi. Having risen opposite Мiyagi, Motobu has asked: " Маchu who will win when you have grasped the opponent or the opponent has grasped you? "

" So all depends on the person ", - has answered Мiyagi. Without prevention Motobu has unexpectedly seized Мiyagi by a top. A room in which they were was very small and the atmosphere became menacing. Мimi Unchu was frightened and has rushed on street, whence continued to look through a window. Holding Мiyagi for a top, Motobu has planned powerful impact by a hand. Then Мiyagi, about improbable which force of capture legends went, has quickly intercepted hand Motobu, and has braided it so strongly, that has compelled it is obedient to fall to a floor. Larger Motobu which intended to win Мiyagi, felt helpless and shouted from a pain.

Sensei Miyagi for long years of trainings has achieved in development in karate of amazing results. Any technical reception, whether it be knocking down, sabaki (system of withdrawals), the block or impact, possessed extraordinary speed and force. The eyewitnesses seen the sensei in operation, spoke, that in the future there will be nobody who will possess such huge destroying energy as sensei Miyagi.


Renaming Naha-te in Goju-ryu


In 1930 the senior pupil of sensei Miyagi – Ginan Shinzato has shown Sepai kata (18 hands) on All Japanese  Championship of Fighting arts spent in honour of crowning of Prince Khirokhito. After performance to Shinzato master Kobudo has addressed with a question. It has asked, to what school in karate concerns Shizato. Sensei Shinzato could not answer this question as at that time there was no necessity to have the name to each style. Having returned to Okinawa, Shinzato has told to sensei Miyagi about this meeting. Having thought some time, Мiyagi has decided to name the art on new, named it goju-ryu. This name has been chosen not casually. During development of all history shaolin fighting arts, concept of rigidity (GO) and softness (JU) always were under steadfast attention of masters of hand-to-hand fight. Ancient masters approved, that the present fighter should not be unduly rigid or soft. For hoping too strong impact not in a condition correctly to estimate a situation, and the softest and passive leaving cannot amaze the opponent. Only the intangible side simultaneously uniting rigid and soft, conducts in original fighting skill.

To this day sensei Morio Higaonna who is the keeper of tradition of Okinawa goju-ryu, has an ancient Chinese treatise "Bubishi". In it " Eight precepts " style of the White Crane, very precisely reflecting an essence of the modern name of school Goju-ryu (" School of a combination rigid and soft ") are resulted.

Mind is a single whole with heavens and the ground.

  1. The circular rhythm of a body is similar to a cycle of the sun and the moon.
  2. The way of inhalation and exhalation is a rigidity and softness.
  3. Act according to time and changes.
  4. The technics comes when there is no realized idea.
  5. Legs should come and recede, be divided and meet.
  6. The sight does not miss even the slightest change.
  7. The hearing is well directed in all directions.

Now at school Goju-ryu exists 13 kata. Nine of them the following: Chinese Sanchin, Saifa (" Danger with a side "), Seiyunchin (" Pulling death "), Shisochin (" To blow up four "), Sanseru (" 36 hands "), Sepai (" 18 hands "), Кururunfa (" the Flying wave "), Seisan (" 13 hands "), Suparinpei ("108"). These kata have been brought by Kanryo Higaonna from China and kept in a protogenic kind. And, since XVI century (time of approximate creation of style of the White Crane) and till now any, even the most insignificant movement has not been changed. The others kata have been created by sensei Chojun Miyagi: Geki sai dai ichi and Gekisai dai ni (" Destroying attack-1 " and " Destroying аtack-2 "); Sanchin-Goju-Ryu, created on the basis of Chinese; Тensho (" a Rotating brush ").

Long time secrets of style have been reliably hidden from uninitiated. And only sensei Morio Higaonna has started to propagandize this art widely. At present I.O.G.K.F. (" International Okinawa Goju-ryu Karate-do Federation") has branches more than in the sixty countries of the world.

Victor Panasiuc,
Chief-instructor IOGKF in Republic of Moldova

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