“Goju-ryu” karate was founded by Master Chojun Miyagi in 1920. The latter, born April 25, 1888 in the city of Naha (Okinawa), lived in a family of traders.
At the age of three, he was adopted by his uncle who made him his heir. His first name was chosen by an old friend of his grandfather (his real name was Macchu).
His adoptive parents, of advanced age, owned a medicine import business and were the official suppliers of the royal family and all the noble families of the island.
This will allow him later to devote himself entirely to the study and development of Okinawan Karate without the material concerns of everyday life.
He began his education under the direction of Kanryo Higa(shi)onna (1853-1915), the founder of Naha-te, when he entered high school.
The young Chojun trained with extreme assiduity under the rule of the famous Master. His exceptional qualities are appreciated by Master Kanryo who considers him as his successor. Chojun, recognized as the best disciple of the Master, had built a reputation as a formidable karateka.
He did his military service at the age of twenty-one, from 1909 to 1911. In 1915, he left for the province of Fujian (China) for a few months. It was then that his Master died at the age of 62.
Upon his return, Master Chojun takes charge of the funeral ceremonies and takes over from the deceased; both to improve and to ensure the dissemination of Karate.
Kanryo Higa(shi)onna (1853-1915)
He returns several times to Fujian and also goes to Beijing. And this in the hope of finding the Shaolin Boxing Master who had taught Sensei Kanryo Higaonna, Master Ryu Ryuko (1852-1930), or at least some of these disciples.
But thirty years had passed since Kanryo Higaonna’s visit and he found no one. He stayed in China for two years and studied a style of Chinese Boxing very close to the one he had studied in Okinawa.
On his return to his native island, he devoted himself tirelessly to the development of karate.
At the same time, he made about ten trips to Japan to ensure the dissemination of his art and to train students.
Chojun Miyagi (1888-1953)
In 1928, Master Miyagi went for the first time to central Japan with the main purpose of attending Butokusai, in Kyoto, and studying the possibilities of spreading Karate in the central island of Japan (Hondo). He performed demonstrations of his Art in the universities of the region, but karate still did not attract much public attention. He therefore judged that it was premature to organize a teaching and contented himself with giving demonstrations.
Eventually, Goju-ryu became the most important style in this region because the Master taught almost exclusively in this region.
In 1929, Sensei Miyagi adopted the name “Goju-ryu” for his school,
starting from the “Eight precepts of the art of combat”.
The 8 precepts of the art of combat
The spirit of man is like the universe
The blood circulates like the moon and the sun move
Essential are inspiration and expiration with strength (Gô) and flexibility (Jû)
The body follows the times and adapts to changes
As soon as the members encounter the void, they place themselves according to a correct technique
The center of gravity advances, retreats and the adversaries move away, meet
The eyes must see in all four directions
Ears should hear in all eight directions
It was on the third precept that Master Miyagi formed the name “Goju”, to which he added the suffix “ryu” to designate his school.
In 1932, the passion for his art led Sensei Miyagi to Hawaii. While in Okinawa, he taught regularly at the police academy.
In 1934, he received honors from the Japanese Ministry of Sports for service to physical education. (For this occasion, a monument is erected in the center of Naha)
In 1936, he returned to China, this time to Shanghai, to continue his research on Chinese martial arts. The following year, his efforts were crowned by the most important Japanese martial arts organization, the “Butokukai”, which officially recognized Okinawan Karate as a martial art. This same organization awarded him the title of Kyoshi, equivalent to 8th Dan, for his dedication to the art of Karate. He was the first Karate Master to receive a rank from this governmental organization.
In 1941, war broke out between Japan and the United States. From then on, civil and cultural activities were controlled. These unfavorable conditions and health problems explain why the Master never left the island. He had given the best of himself to spread his art.
He decided to now devote his efforts to adapting the teaching of karate to a physical education program. This project later materialized with the creation of the katas: “Gekisai Dai Ichi” and “Gekisai Dai Ni“.
During the war, Chojun Miyagi lost a son and two daughters. These successive bereavements affected him deeply. And despite his heart problems, he resumed karate lessons in 1946 at the Naha Academy. He also taught in his garden, it was a time of hardship and deprivation on the island of Okinawa, many students could not hold training.
This is how the Goju-ryu tradition of Okinawa was transmitted in its entirety to the young An’Ichi Miyagi (no relation) who inherited this fabulous knowledge. Master Chojun Miyagi died on the morning of October 8, 1953.
An’Ichi Miyagi was born in Naha on February 9, 1931. He lost his parents during the war, when he was only 14 years old. He became the head of the family with two young brothers in his care.
He began studying karate in February 1948 under the guidance of Chojun Miyagi. The Master realized very quickly that the young An’Ichi was passionate. From the beginning, he gave her certain chores to do. An’Ichi understood that this was all a field of observation for his Master. Thus, he could partly analyze the character of the student. Very early also, he will invite him to continue his training further. The class ended, the students left and An’Ichi stayed and resumed training, each time, Chojun Miyagi Sensei spoke to him about his experience and gave him valuable advice.
Miyagi Sensei not only taught him the technique, but also taught him how to heal himself with medicinal herbs. Master Chojun Miyagi behaved like a father towards young An’Ichi.
An’Ichi Miyagi left us during the month of April 2009.
Morio Higaonna was born on December 25, 1938 in Naha. He began the study of “Goju-ryu” Karate at the age of 16, with Sensei An’Ichi Miyagi as an instructor. Regularly, he trained in the afternoon, at the college, for two hours and in the garden of Chojun Miyagi Sensei, two hours in the evening.
In 1960, the first passages of Dan of Okinawa Karate took place. These tests took place under the watchful eye of Shoshin Nagamine. Higaonna Sensei received the rank of Godan (5th dan). At the 1972 World Championship in Paris, he was invited to demonstrate his Art.
His reputation was growing. Some call it the “Lion of Okinawa”.
In Belgium, the Goju-ryu Federation of Okinawa is led by Patrick Curinckx Sensei.
In 1973, Sensei Patrick approached Karate and practiced the “Kyokushinkai” style.
In 1976, after three years of intensive training, Patrick Curinckx Sensei moved towards the “Goju-ryu” style. Style that he will adopt and to which he will remain faithful.
In 1993, Higaonna Sensei asked him to broadcast Okinawa’s “Goju-ryu” in Belgium. In recent years, Sensei Patrick has traveled to different countries to follow the teaching of Sensei Higaonna.
Sensei Patrick Curinckx is today the chief instructor of the Belgian federation and has the rank of Nanadan (7th dan)