OKINAWAKAN KARATE & KOBUDO MASTERS
Chōjun Miyagi (宮城 長順 Miyagi Chōjun?, April 25, 1888—October 8, 1953) was an Okinawan martial artist who founded the Goju-ryu school of karate by blending Okinawan and Chinese influences.
Early life and training
Miyagi was born in Higashimachi, Naha, Okinawa on April 25, 1888. Miyagi 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 (Higaonna Kanryō) 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.
Training in China
In May 1915, before the death of Higaonna, Miyagi travelled to Fujian Province. In China he visited the grave of Higaonna's teacher, Ryu Ryu Ko. In this first trip he travelled with Eisho Nakamoto. After Kanryo Higaonna's death ( in Oct, 1915) he made a second trip to Foochow with Gokenki. In this second trip he studied some local Chinese martial arts. (Some sources claim he studied Shaolin Kung Fu in Fuzhou, although historical records indicate that Southern Shaolin was razed to the ground by Qing government forces more than 300 years prior to his visit, and the modern day Fuzhou Shaolin Temple is a recent reconstruction based on a popular movie). It was in this second trip that he observed the Rokkishu (a set of hand exercises rather than a formal kata, which emphasizes the rotation of the forearms and wrists to execute offensive and defensive techniques), which he then adapted into the Tensho Kata. From the blending of these systems, 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 soft style".
Return to Japan
After several months in China, Chōjun Miyagi returned to Naha where he opened a dojo. 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. In recognition of his leadership in spreading karate in Japan, his style, the Goju-Ryu, became the first style to be officially recognized by the Dai Nippon Butokukai. 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.
Death and legacy
Miyagi had his first heart attack in 1951, and died in Okinawa on October 8, 1953 from a second heart attack. Some of Miyagi's more notable students were: Seko Higa (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 karategi 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 Seigo Tada (founder of Seigokan) and Shimabuku Tatsuo (Isshinryu).
Miyazato was born on July 5, 1922, in I-Chome, 13 Banchi, Higashi-machi, Naha, Okinawa, Okinawa Prefecture, Japan. Some sources indicate that Miyazato began training under Miyagi at the age of 13, while others state that Miyazato first trained under his own father and only began training under Miyagi at the age of 15. Miyazato's father had been a student of Kanryo Higaonna, who had been Miyagi's teacher, so Miyagi accepted the young Miyazato as his student. Except for an interrupted period due to World War II, Miyazato learned from Miyagi continuously until the death of the latter in 1953. Apart from his karate training, he also studied judo under Shoko Itokazu.
Miyazato joined the Ryukyu Police Department on Miyagi's recommendation in 1946. He served as physical education instructor at the police academy, and assisted Miyagi (then an instructor at the academy), teaching karate and judo there. Upon Miyagi's death in 1953, Miyazato inherited his teacher's training equipment, and the family also passed on Miyagi's gi (uniform) and obi (belt) to him. Miyazato took up the position of teaching at the 'Garden dojo,' which had been Miyagi's dojo.
In 1957, Miyazato opened his own dojo, the Jundokan, in Asato, Naha. The building had three levels, with Miyazato's dwelling located on the top level. In 1972, he retired from the police force and devoted the rest of his life to teaching karate. Through the early 1970s, he served as Vice-President of the Okinawan Judo Federation and President of the Okinawa Prefecture Karate-do Federation.
On March 20, 1988, the Okinawa Goju-ryu Karate-do Kyokai awarded him the rank of 10th dan in karate. Apart from his karate rank, Miyazato held the rank of 7th dan in judo from the Kodokan, and was President of the Okinawa Judo Federation.
Miyazato received several awards for his contribution to the martial arts. In 1984, Miyazato received an official commendation from the Kodokan. In 1994, he was awarded a Commendation for Distinguished Service from the Nihon Budo Kyogikai and received an official commendation from the Okinawa Judo Federation. In 1998, he received an official commendation from the Japanese Ministry of Education.
Grand Master Nakamoto is one of the the first Okinawan to be recognized as 10th Degree Karate Master by the Japanese Government, is a 10th Degree Hanshi of Ryukyu Kobujutsu (Weaponry), a 10th Degree Hanshi of Gojuryu Karate, and was one of the the last formal students of Chojun Miyagi, the founder of Gojuryu Karate.
* A lifetime of devoted service in the Martial Arts, since at age 6
* He is revered as one of the finest weapons and karate Grand Masters in Okinawa
* He is a direct descendant of the great Uhugusuku Samurai Family, the personal bodyguards of the Okinawa Kings and in charge of security for the Shuri Castle
* Personal student of the great Kina, Shosei Weapons Grand Master, the successor to the Uhugusuku Samurai Family Weaponry System
* Personal student of Chojun Miyagi, founder of Goju ryu Karate
* 10th Degree Grand Master of Weaponry
* 10th Degree Grand Master, Goju ryu Karate
* 10th Degree Karate-Do, All Japan Dojo Federation
* Iaido Grand Master (Samurai sword)
* President of the “Ryukyu Dento Kobujutsu Hozon Budo Kyokai”, Ryukyu Weapons Society
* President of the Okinawa-Kan
* Owner of 28 Martial Art schools in Japan and 8 in Okinawa