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Higashionna Kanryo
1853-1915

Miyagi Chojun
1888-1953

Higa Seiko
1898-1966

Toguchi Seikichi
1917-1998

Toyama Zenshu
1936
The History of Gojuryu Karate

Gojuryu karate (剛柔流空手) was developed by Miyagi Chojun (宮城長順) in the 1920s. The style was officially named in 1930, and was the first style of karate to be registered with the Dai Nippon Butokukai (大日本武徳会) in 1933. Present day, Gojuryu is considered one of the "big 4" styles of karate in Japan and is practiced by hundreds of thousands of people worldwide.

Going Back to the Beginnings

- The foundation of Gojuryu is a kata called Sanchin. Sanchin was created by a woman living in Yongchun village China named Fāng Qīniáng (方七娘). Qiniang began teaching her martial arts at the Hou Temple in Yongchun village during the reign of the Kang Xi Emperor (1661-1722). Because of this we can trace the original version of Sanchin back to around the 1660 timeframe.

- In June of 1683 Emperor Kang Xi ordered the Fujian Admiral Shi Lang to sail to Taiwan to take over the island and join Taiwan to the Fujian province. This was accomplished by August of the same year, and when Admiral Shi Lang returned to Fuzhou one of the passengers from Taiwan was a man named Bai Jie, who claimed to be a former student of Qiniang of Yongchun. Through Bai Jie the teachings of Qiniang were disseminated through the Fuzhou area and likely used as an early framework for many of the systems that developed in Fuzhou.

- In 1792 the military attaché, Liu Long Gong (劉龍公 aka Ruryuko) was born in Nanjing China. In 1812 Liu entered into the military service and was stationed in the Fuzhou area. Between 1812 and 1838 he began training in the local martial arts in the Fuzhou area. In 1838 at the age of 46 Liu traveled to the Ryukyu Kingdom with the Sapposhi Lin Hongnian and served as a bodyguard for the Chinese Ambassador. (*Birth year is based on a scroll hand written by Nakaima Kenko in 1968)

- During this visit Liu, and possibly other military members and bodyguards, spent time teaching the local Pechin (Ryukyuan equivalent of a samurai class) martial arts in Matsuyama Park. It appears that around this time is when the katas Sanchin, Naihanchi, Seisan, Sanseiru, and Suparinpe were introduced to the local Pechin. Some of the more famous participants from this event included Sakiyama Kitoku, Nagahama Umihyaku, Gushi Pechin, and Ufu Giko.

- On 10 March 1853 Higashionna Kanryo was born to Kanyo and Makamado Higashionna of Nishimura Naha.

- In late 1866 the last Sapposhi to the Ryukyu Kingdom arrived. During this visit many of the Ryukyuan martial arts masters put on a demonstration for the Sapposhi and his bodyguards on 24 March 1867 at the Royal Tea house call the Ochayagoten (御茶屋御殿). During this event the Naha-te master Tsuji Pechin Aragaki Seisho performed Seisan and Chikudun Pechin Tomura performed Suparinpe.

- In 1867 Higashionna Kanryo began his training with Aragaki Seisho. For the next 3 years Aragaki sensei would train young Kanryo in Sanchin and Seisan. However in 1870 Aragaki was sent to Beijing for work and at this time Kanryo continued his training under Kojo Tatei sensei for the next 3 years.

- In 1873, at the age of 20, Kanryo traveled to China as a courier for Lord Yoshimura. Once in Fuzhou, Kanryo began training with Tatei sensei's cousin, Kojo Isei. Through Kojo Isei sensei Kanryo met Wai Xinxian who was another military attaché that Aragaki sensei had held in high regard. However, Wai was unable to train Kanryo because he was still attached to the government and was unable to train civilians at the time.

- Sometime in 1876 the Min river flooded (public records still exist of the flooding, but it flooded several times so it's impossible to know which time exactly was the one that triggered this event) and Kanryo rescued a young child who was taken by the flood. The child turned out to be the grandchild of Liu Long Gong. This connection is what allowed Kanryo to begin studying under Liu, and he trained with him until around Lunar New Year of 1879.

- According Higa Seiko's interview in the Karate Denshinroku, when Kanryo left China Liu Long Gong was very old, and starting to go blind, Liu would have been around 87 years old at this time.

- At first after returning to Okinawa, Kanryo resumed his family's shipping business and sailed a Chinese Junk style ship called the Shinkosen. For many years he ran this business and was very successful. However, in 1894, Kanryo lost 2 ships and some major cargo in a typhoon. When he returned to Okinawa the debt from the loss ended up costing him everything.

- In 1881 Liu Long Gong died in Fuzhou China. (Based on a scroll by Nakaima Kenko from 1968)

- In 1896 hearing about Kanryo's situation, Lord Yoshimura hired Kanryo to privately teach his children martial arts. By the end of the year Kanryo sensei was teaching children from many influential families and was finally able to pay off his debts.

- In 1901 the Boxers Rebellion in China ended, this resulted in the ban of many traditional martial arts in China, and was likely what killed off the martial traditions in Fuzhou that were related to the art that Liu taught.

- In September of 1902 a young man named Miyagi Chojun began training in karate under Kanryo sensei.

- 1905 was a good year for martial arts, the karate movement led by Itosu Anko was finally accepted and was introduced to the public school system. Kanryo sensei was one of the first people to be hired on to teach karate publicly and he started teaching at the Naha Kuritsu Shogyo Koto Gakko (Naha Commercial High School) in September of 1905.

- In 1911 a young man named Higa Seiko began training at the Higashionna Dojo.

- In March of 1915, Kanryo sensei's wife Kauroto passed away. In October of the same year Kanryo sensei also passed away.

- The remainder of that school year was taught by Kanryo sensei's friend, Kuniyoshi Shinkichi, who was another renown Naha-te karate master.

- After Miyagi Chojun returned from China in 1917, he took up the mantle of his old teacher, and began teaching Kanryo sensei's Naha-te.

- In the 1920's there was a group that was formed called the Ryukyu Toudi Kenkyukai, which was a study group where many of the island's masters would get together and share information. It was during this time the style that would become Gojuryu was really hashed out and developed.

- In 1929 one of the first country wide "All Japan Martial Arts Demonstration" was held in Kyoto. Miyagi sensei was unable to attend so he sent his senior student Shinzato Jinan in his stead. After performing many of the participants approached Shinzato and asked what style he practiced. Not having a style name at the time Shinzato called the style Hankoryu (半硬流 - Half Hard Style). After he returned to Okinawa Shinzato told Miyagi sensei about this incident, and shortly after Miyagi came up with the name Gojuryu, which was based on a poem called the Hakku Kenpo, the particular line reads "Ho Go Ju Donto" which translates to "breathing is both Hard and Soft".

- In 1930 Toguchi Seikichi became a student of Higa Seiko.

- In 1933 Gojuryu was registered as the first style of karate with the Dai Nippon Butokukai.

- In 1936 Toyama Zenshu was born.

- In 1937 Higa Seiko moved to Saipan.

- In 1938 Toguchi Seikichi became a student of Miyagi Chojun.

- In 1939 Higa Seiko returned from Saipan.

- In 1940 the Japanese installed governor of Okinawa, General Hayakawa Hijime commissioned a special board of Okinawan karate masters to develop a set of introductory kata that could be used for the public school system. They were originally intended to be standardized and style independent. This board consisted of Miyagi Chojun, Nagamine Shoshin, Kamiya Jinsei, Miyazato Koji, Tokuda Anbun, Kinjo Kansei, and Kyan Shinei. The result of this board was the creation of the Fukyu kata 普及型 (Also known as Gekisai), and they were released to the school system in the 1941 school year. However, after WW2 these kata were no longer taught in the school system, so they became stylized for different schools.

- 1944 brought WW2, which halted all development for karate on Okinawa until around 1946.

- In 1952 the Gojuryu Karate-do Kenkyukai Dojo was established with the Chief instructor being Higa Seiko and the assistant instructors being Takamine Chokubo, Tamaki Juei, Toguchi Seikichi, and Fukuchi Seiko.

- In 1953 Miyagi Chojun passed away, leaving the style without an heir.

- In 1954 the Shoreikan dojo was established.

- In 1954 Toyama Zenshu began training under Toguchi Seikichi and Higa Seiko at the Shoreikan.

- In 1960 the Shodokan school was established.

- In 1962 Sakai Ryugo established the first Shoreikan branch dojo on Amami Jima.

- In 1966 Higa Seiko passed away.

- In 1967 Toyama sensei opened the Awase Shoreikan branch dojo.

- In 1974 the Shinjikan school was established.

- In 1998 Toguchi Seikichi passed away.

- On 7 November 2010 Toyama Zenshu was awarded 10th dan by the Okinawa Karate-do Rengokai.



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