Higaonna Kanryo Sensei


Higaonna Sensei was born in Nishimura, Naha in 1853. In 1867, he began to study Monk Fist Boxing (Luohan Quan) from Aragaki Tsuji Pechin Seisho who was a fluent Chinese speaker and interpreter for the Ryūkyūan court. At that time the word karate was not in common use, and the martial arts were often referred to simply as Ti ("hand"), sometimes prefaced by the area of origin, as Nafaa-ti, Shui-ti, or simply Uchinaa-ti.

He spent time in Fuzhou in the Fukien province of China after an introduction Aragaki had given Higaonna Sensei, to the martial arts master Kojo Taitei whose dojo was in Fuzhou. Higaonna Sensei spent his time studying with various teachers of the Chinese martial arts, the most famous of them being Ryu Ryu Ko. In the 1880s, after Ryūkyū was annexed by Japan, he returned to Okinawa and continued the family business. He also began to teach the martial arts in and around Naha. His style was distinguished by its integration of both go-no (hard) and ju-no (soft) techniques in one system. He became so prominent that the name Naha-te became identified with Higaonna Kanryo's system. Higaonna Sensei was noted for his powerful Sanchin kata, or form. Students reported that the wooden floor would be hot from the gripping of his feet. He passed away in October 1915.

Chojun Miyagi Sensei


Miyagi Sensei was born in Higashimachi, Naha, Okinawa on April 25, 1888. Miyagi began his study in Karate-do at a very young age, first from Ryuko Aragaki, who then introduced him to Higaonna Kanryo Sensei when Miyagi Sensei 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 May 1915, before the death of Higaonna Sensei, Miyagi travelled to Fujian Province. In China he visited the grave of Higaonna's teacher, Ryu Ryu Ko. Following Higaonna Sensei’s death, he made more visits to China to study martial arts. He adapted several systems and exercises from and incorporated them into his katas. From the blending of these systems, and his native Naha-Te, a new system emerged. 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 1929 Miyagi Sensei formally named the system Goju-ryu, meaning "hard soft style".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 Sensei’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, he worked with Funakoshi Gichi Sensei to create more Shuri te-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. Miyagi had his first heart attack in 1951, and died in Okinawa on October 8, 1953 from a second heart attack.

Kaicho Seikichi Toguchi


Seikichi Toguchi Sensei was born on May 20, 1917 in Naha City, Okinawa, Japan. As a young boy, he learned the basic techniques of Okinawan Te from his father. In 1930, at the age of 15, he began his lifelong study of Gōjū-ryū karate at the dojo of Sekō Higa Sensei and later under Chojun Miyagi Sensei as one of his principal students. He studied under Higa Sensei for over 33 years and under Miyagi Sensei for more than 25 years, making his karate education unique. Toguchi Sensei was fortunate as Miyagi was a personal friend of Toguchi's father and so paid many visits to the family. As a result, Toguchi Sensei got to spend much time with Miyagi Sensei, discussing, debating and learning about several aspects of karate.

Toguchi Sensei continued his full-time study of karate until the beginning of World War II, when he was drafted into the army as an electrical engineer and stationed in Sumatra, Indonesia. In 1946 he returned to Okinawa to find a devastated people and homeland. Miyagi had lost three children and one of his senior students, Jinan Shinsato. In 1949, with the help of Toguchi Sensei, Higa Sensei opened up a new dojo and Toguchi Sensei was appointed Shihan. Before his death, Miyagi Sensei passed on all his advanced kata and teachings to Toguchi, one of the more important being kaisai no genri. This teaching explains how to unlock the hidden techniques of the koryu kata. In 1953, after the death of Miyagi, his senior students formed the Karate-Do Goju Association with Seikichi Toguchi Sensei as Vice Chairman.

After Miyagi Sensei’s death in October 1953, Toguchi Sensei was the first of his students to open a dojo. He opened up the first Shorei-kan dojo (House of politeness and respect) in Koza City, Okinawa in 1954. The Shorei-kan dojo was very close to the American military base (Kadena Air Base) and the Americans showed a great interest in the martial arts. With an increasing western population in his dojo, Toguchi found it necessary to devise a progressive teaching method to overcome the language barrier. Expanding on Miyagi Sensei's vision, Toguchi Sensei further developed a system of progressive kata and added bunkai and kiso kumite to help explain application of the kata. In 1956 the Okinawan Karate-Do Federation was formed and Toguchi Sensei was installed as a member of the board of directors. By 1960 Toguchi Sensei decided to move to mainland Japan to spread the art of karate and Shorei-kan. During the coming years he would move between Okinawa in the winter and Tokyo in the summer. In 1966 Shorei-kan Hombu Dojo Tokyo opened in Nakano-ku, Tokyo. Widely considered one of the greatest exponents of Goju-Ryu Karate, he not only continued Miyagi Sensei's legendary legacy, he was also the only student of Master Miyagi to improve his system by creating new katas and bunkais to complete Master Miyagi's unfulfilled dream of creating new katas to create a systematic advancement from fukyugata to kaishugata. The fact that Master Toguchi's katas have been accepted and absorbed by other Goju-Ryu schools is a testament to his brilliance, his dedication, his visionary approach and the deep respect that his contemporaries had for him. Toguchi Sensei passed away on 31st August 1998 leaving behind a rich legacy that continues to thrive across the world.