Goju Ryu Karate is the invention of Chojun Miyagi. That’s right, all you Karate Kid Aficionados, there really was a Mr. Miyagi. Interestingly, however, the real Mr. Miyagi was not a Karate purist.
Most people think of the founder of an art as pure, he studied only one style, and never dabbled. This is because of the true believer mentality inherent in many people who learn one thing, and hold to it as the most important thing ever learned in the history of mankind. The founders of martial arts systems, however, are a varied bunch; Aikido, Kung Fu, Taekwondo or whatever, the founders invariably studied many arts before settling on the method they thought was best.
Miyagi’s early training in the martial arts was under Ryuko Aragaki. a neighbor who was considered quite the fighter. Miyagi must have shown talent, for Aragaki introduced him to his teacher Kanryo Higashionna. Miyagi had 3-5 years study in the martial arts training at the time.
For over a dozen years Miyagi trained with Higashionna. Higashionna was considered to be one of the foremost Karate men on Okinawa, and he was renowned for his Sanchin Kata. He was known for standing and letting up to four men push on him, and holding his stance.
After thirteen years Higashionna died, and Miyagi decided that to move on in the martial arts, he would have to study with the people who trained his teacher. Thus, he made the pilgrimage to Fujian province in China, where he studied Shaolin and Pa Kua Chang.
Now Miyagi was accomplished in both hard and soft style martial arts. He returned to Okinawa and taught his system, eventually choosing a name from the bible of Karate, the Bubishi. The name was goju–‘hard/soft.’
The Gojo system is thus based on hard karate, but illustrates a development of hard to soft. There are hard blocks, and yet there are drills and concepts which take the student into the softer aspects of the martial arts. Being a full bodied martial art, the style became one of the few Karate styles to rival the mainstream karate of Funakoshi.
In the final assessment, Goju is a strong system. It has resulted in the systems of Jundokan, Meibukan, Shorei kan and isshinryu. But the strength of the system lies not solely in Karate, but in the strivings of a man to understand both the hard and the soft, and who then formulated the Goju Ryu Karate System.
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