THE DEVELOPMENT of MODERN KARATE-DO

In the beginning, karate was simply called tee(hand).  When, in the late 1800’s, teewas incorporated in Okinawan junior high school physical training programs, it was given the name karate(empty hand) to distinguish it from todee(Chinese hand), a form of teeintroduced from China.  Literally, karate means “bare hands and naked fists.”

The two original styles of karate, developed in the regions of Shuri-Tomari and Naha, were called Shuri-teand Naha-te, respectively.  Many karate masters contributed to these styles but the two considered the fathers of modern karate are Master Anko Itosu of Shuri-teand Master Kanryo Higashionna of Naha-te.  They are often called the matchless twin-stars.  In the early 1900’s, Master Itosu introduced and taught karate as a regular course in the physical education programs of Naha normal and junior high schools.  Master Higashionna did the same in the police schools and other junior high schools in Naha. In this manner, they carried karate from the fighting methods of the past to its modern stature as a martial art. The Shuri-testyle of Master Itosu eventually became Shorin-Ryu, while Master Higashionna, using Shuri-teas his point of departure, eventually developed Naha-te, the predecessor of today’s Goju-Ryu.

 

THE ORIGIN of GOJU-RYO

Although his study of Shuri-tebegan during his childhood, as a young man, Master Higashionna also traveled to China where he took instruction in Chinese boxing.  When he finally returned to Okinawa, he began combining the stronger elements of teewith what he had learned in China.  The result was a new martial art form, informally called Naha-te, more suited to the needs of country.

When, in 1929, delegates assembled in Kyoto for a national martial arts convention, Master Higashionna asked Master Chojun Miyagi, his most respected student, to represent him. Master Miyagi, however, was also unable to attend so he, in turn, appointed one of his pupils, Mr. Shinsato, as his replacement.

Martial artists from schools with impressive names flooded the convention.  Mr. Shinsato, though, had no ready reply when asked the name of his style.  Admitting his style had no formal name would damage the reputation of Naha-teand lower him to mere amateur status in the eyes of his fellow martial artists. Having no choice at all, then, Mr. Shinsato groped for an impromptu name and dubbed his style, hanko-ryu(half-hard style).

When Mr. Shinsato returned to Master Miyagi, he told him of the hastily chosen name.  The master, finding it quite reasonable, quoted from the Chinese Eight Poems of the Fists: “Everything in the universe is breathing hard and soft…,” and so Naha-teformally took the name of Goju-Ryu.

Goju applies to society and karate alike.  Only hardness or only softness creates an inability to deal effectively with the fluctuations of life.  Courtesy is a small example.  Its use can soften an otherwise hard transaction.  In karate, too, hardness and softness combine in successful techniques. When preparing to block, the body is soft and inhaling.  When attacking or punching, it becomes hard and exhaling.  This existence of both hard and soft characterizes Goju-Ryu.