Grand Master Chojun Miyagi

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Grandmaster Chojun Miyagi was born on April 25,1888.  He began his Karate training at the age of 14 when he was introduced to Kanryo Higaonna. Chojun Miyagi became “uchi deshi” (private discipline) of Kanryo Higaonna.  He studied with his teacher for 14 years before his teacher’s death in 1915.

In 1915 he journeyed to Fuzhou, China, the city where his teacher had studied martial arts to further his 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 out of his home in Naha.   Later, he also taught at the Okinawan Prefecture Police Training Center, at the Okinawan Master’s Training College, and at the Naha Commercial High School (where his teacher had once taught).

Chojun Miyagi traveled frequently to mainland Japan where he was invited to teach at Kyoto University, Kansai University and Ritsumei Kan University.   In 1933, Goju-Ryu Karate was the first Okinawan martial art to be registered at the Dai Nippon Butoku-Kai, the center for all martial arts in Japan.  This was a milestone for Karate as it meant it was recognized on a level with the highly respected martial arts of Japan.

The naming of Goju-Ryu came about more by accident than by design.  In 1930 Chojun Miyagi’s top student  Jin’an Shinzato, while in Tokyo demonstrating Karate. He was asked 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 chose the name Goju-Ryu (hard and soft school) as a name for his style. This name he took from a line in the “Bubishi”. This line, which appears in a poem describing the eight precepts of the martial arts reads, “Ho Goju Donto” (the way of breathing is hardness and softness).

Chojun Miyagi died in 1953.