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The Name Goju Ryu

The naming of Goju-Ryu came about more by accident than design. In 1930, one of Chojun Miyagi’s top students, Jin’an Shinzato, while in Tokyo attending a Martial Arts convention was asked by numerous martial arts masters as to what school of martial arts he practiced. As Naha-te had no formal name he could not answer this question. Feeling his art would be looked down upon and given amateur status, he quickly picked Hankry-ryu, which means the Way of Half Hard. On his return to Okinawa he reported this incident to Chojun Miyagi. He liked Shinzato’s idea and took it one step further. After much consideration, Chojun Miyagi decided on the name Goju-Ryu (hard and soft school) as a name for his style. This name he took from a line in the Bubishi (a classical Chinese text on martial arts and other subjects). This line, which appears in a poem describing the eight precepts of the martial arts, reads "Ho Goju Donto" (the way of inhaling and exhaling is hardness and softness).


The whole poem reads as follows:


1. The mind is one with heaven and earth.
2. The circulatory rhythm of the body is similar to the cycle of the sun and the moon.
3. The way of inhaling and exhaling is hardness and softness.
4. Act in accordance with time and change.
5. Techniques will occur in the absence of conscious thought.
6. The feet must advance and retreat, separate and meet.
7. The eyes do not miss even the slightest change.
8. The ears listen well in all directions.

The Succession of Goju-Ryu

Jin’an Shinzato, an exceptional talent and the one whom Chojun Miyagi had chosen for his successor to the Goju School in Okinawa, was tragically killed during the Second World War. Later, after the war, Chojun Miyagi chose Meitoku Yagi Sensei to succeed him in Okinawa and Gogen Yamaguchi to succeed him in Japan under the Goju-Kai school, to pass on Goju-Ryu to the next generation. Chojun Miyagi passed away October 8th, 1953, leaving a great legacy behind. He predicted that during the twentieth century karate would spread throughout the world. Today we can see that this prediction has been realized; karate is not only practiced in Japan, but it can be found throughout the countries of the world. Karate can no longer Chojun Miyagi the founder of Goju-Ryu karate was born in Okinawa on the 25 of April 1888. At the age of 11 he started training karate under Master Aragaki Ryuko. At the age of fourteen in he was introduced to Master Higaonna Kanryo and was eventually accepted as Master Higaonna’s personal disciple. After his master’s death Chojun Miyagi travelled to China to develop his knowledge of the martial arts. After his return to Okinawa he began to teach in his home, where he turned the garden into a dojo. He put great effort into spreading his knowledge with the ambition to give karate the same status as judo and kendo. In 1933 the karate was officially accepted by Butoko Kai, the Japanese center for martial arts. Miyagi began to teach karate at the Police Academy of Okinawa and also at his home. Master Chojun Miyagi life was devoted to karate. He structured the system of Naha-te, adapted it to the demands of modern society and made it available to the public.


One of Chojun Miyagi students, Jinan Shinzato, was once on mainland Japan to demonstrate Naha- te. After the performance he was asked to what school of karate he belonged. He was unable to answer the question, since it was not the name of a style. At his return he told Miyagi Sensei about the occurence, who thought about the problem and decided that it should be advantageous to have a name for his martial art system in order to promote and spread it. He chose the name ‘Goju ryu (the hard-soft style), inspired by the “Eight precepts” of Kung Fu.