The Chinese Martial Arts Origination of Okinawan Goju Ryu Karate-Do
Original Article By: Hong Kong Goju Ryu
(Translated by Adrian Chan-Wyles PhD)
Translator’s Note: The following is the English translation of the original Chinese text of the 'History' section of the Hong Kong Goju Ryu Karate-Do website. Goju Ryu Karate-Do is an Okinawan style of martial arts that is in reality a preservation of a Chinese (White Crane) style of Gongfu. Due to the historical difficulties that exist between China and Japan, generally speaking Japanese Karate is not popular or prominent in Hong Kong, but Okinawan Goju Ryu Karate-Do is acknowledged in China as an authentic lineage of Chinese martial arts. Goju Ryu is premised upon Fujian White Crane Gongfu which is a collection of techniques that exhibit a perfect blend of yin and yang interchange.
Today's Goju Ryu Karate Do (剛柔流空手道), has developed into a recognised worldwide movement of martial arts. It may be surprising to learn that this martial art has been imported into Hong Kong from Okinawa, and that it is one of the many karate schools to be found there. However, it is also true that not many people really understand its true history. If we are to appreciate this true ‘Goju Ryu’ history, we have to understand that Japanese karate actually comes from the people of Okinawa, and that it was transmitted into that country from China. Chinese people taught the Okinawan people a number of martial arts that eventually developed into Karate. This fact is indicative of the close historical ties between China and Okinawa.
In ancient times, the Okinawan martial arts had no schools defined by technique. Instead, Okinawan martial arts were named after places to distinguish one tradition from another. An example of such styles are Na-ba-Shou (Naha-Te - 那霸手), Shou-Li-Shou (Shuri-Te -首里手), and Bo-Shou (泊手), etc. As the vast majority of these local Okinawan martial arts have originated from China, they are often collectively referred to as ‘Tang-Shou’ (唐手), or ‘Chinese Hand’.
‘Naha’ is an important Okinawan port town, which is famous for the development of the ‘Goju Ryu’ style which has its roots in the martial arts brought from China by the local Okinawan Master Higaonna Kanryo (東恩納寬量 – Dong En Na Kuan Liang). He called his Chinese martial arts ‘Naha-Te’. His main disciple was called Miyagi Chojun (宮城長順 – Gong Cheng Zhang Shun)– he inherited the complete style from Higaonna. In 1930, Miyagi Chojun renamed ‘Naha-Te’ (那霸手) as ‘Goju Ryu’ 剛柔流), and in 1935, changed the name ‘Tang Hand’ (唐手) to ‘Empty Hand Way’ (空手道).
Although it may be true that many people might know that Karate-do in general evolved from Chinese martial arts, few understand that the Okinawan martial art of Goju Ryu is in fact a Chinese martial art. To understand this fact the lives of the two warriors Higaonna Kanryo and Miyagi Chojun must be examined to realise the direct link between Okinawa and China.
Higaonna Kanryo (1853-1916)
(恩納寬量先生自少對中國武術非常嚮往，在他22歲時(1874年)，得到一位經常來往中國褔州的官員吉川介紹，便到了中國褔州跟隨一位很出名的白鶴拳名家謝宗祥先生學習嗚鶴拳。鳴鶴拳源自---------「前五虎」之王打興。至第六代林世威，林傳福州蓋山潘嶼八，潘滲入羅漢拳精華，創「鳴鶴拳」，潘傳長樂縣謝祟祥（余師）(Ryu Ryuko/劉六哥/ Xie Zhong Xiang (1852-1930))。八十年代日本沖澠剛柔流空手道亦派人到福州認祖歸宗，確認剛柔流始創人東恩納寬量及宮城長順曾在福州拜謝崇祥為師習藝，並立碑永誌。)
Higaonna Kanryo had a profound interest for the practice of Chinese martial arts from a very young age. When he was 22 (in 1874), he eventually obtained official permission from the Chinese state authorities to travel to Fujian province to train in the martial art known as ‘Fujian White Crane Fist’, (or ‘Bai He Quan - 白鶴拳’). He was accepted as a disciple by Master Xie Zhong Xiang (1852-1930), also known as ‘Ryu Ryu Ko’ in the Okinawan language (劉六哥- pronounced ‘Liu Liu Ge’ in Chinese). Here, Higaonna was taught ‘Crying Crane Fist’ (Wu He Quan - 鳴鶴拳), also known as ‘Whooping Crane Fist’ (Ming He Quan - 鳴鶴拳). This style originates from the ‘Advancing Five Tiger’ (前五虎 – Qian Wu Hu) style – as taught by Master Wang Da Xing (王打興). This style was passed (unchanged) down to the 6th generation Master Lin Shi Wei (林傳福). Master Lin Shi Wei passed on the style to Master Pan Yu Ba (潘嶼八) of the Mount Gai (蓋山-Gai Shan), area of Fuzhou (Fujian province). Master Pan was already a renowned master of Luo Han Fist (羅漢拳) before he inherited Master Lin’s style. Master Pan combined elements of Luo Han Fist with that of Qian Wu Hu – and created the ‘Crying’, or ‘Whooping’ crane style of Fujian White Crane martial arts. Master Pan passed on his style to master Xie Sui Xiang (謝祟祥) – also known as ‘Xie Zhong Xiang’ in China, and ‘Ryu Ryu Ko’ in Okinawa. He lived from 1852 to 1930. In the 1980’s, researchers from Okinawa were sent to the Fujian city of Fuzhou (in China) to research the Chinese origins of Goju Ryu Karate, and the claim that Okinawan Higaonna Kanryo learnt this martial art from Master Xie Zhong Xiang - as Miyagi Chojun had been taught. All of these facts were confirmed, and a monument was erected in Fuzhou to record this research for future generations.
Higaonna Kanryo spent a 15 year apprenticeship in the Fujian city of Fuzhou, but when he was 38 years old, he eventually returned back to Okinawa due to experiencing homesickness. After his return to Okinawa, Higaonna Kanryo continued to practice his Chinese martial arts, and eventually started to teach local Okinawans the art. He was renowned for his deep and profound martial knowledge, as well as his good character. As well as being a master of martial culture, Higaonna Kanryo insisted that his students develop their characters as well as their bodies. In this regard the requirement of character development and personality transformation was instilled into his students without exception, and was taught as an implicit aspect of the martial movements themselves. He successfully taught many students during his life-time as a martial arts master in Okinawa. In 1915/1916, at the age of 63, Higaonna Kanryo passed away due to an illness.
Miyagi Chojun (1888-1953)
(宮城長順 (MIYAGI CHOJUN) 生於 1888，在 14歲時（1902年）拜東恩納寬量為師習藝，1915年，他亦到中國褔州再求深造，同行者有一位白鶴拳明家吳賢貴先生。他們到達福州後，宮城先生亦隨東恩納寬量的師傅謝宗祥繼續學習中國拳法(嗚鶴拳)，在這段時間，他學習了「鶴法」中著名手法「六機手」，「六機手」包括有鐵骨手、爪子手、鐵沙手、撒攪手、一路草枝手及向天刀手。(資料來源: 武備誌) 當他回到沖繩島後，再把它整理改良後，稱為轉掌（TENSO）).
Miyagi Chojun was born in 1888. In 1902 – when he was 14 years old – he was accepted as a personal martial arts disciple of Master Higaonna Kanryo. Following the passing of Higaonna Kanryo in 1915/16, Miyagi Chojun travelled to the Chinese city of Fuzhou (in Fujian province), to continue his study of Chinese martial arts. Here, he stayed with a prominent White Crane Boxing practitioner named Wu Xian Gui (吳賢貴). Fuzhou is where Higaonna Kanryo trained in the Crying Crane Fist style (嗚鶴拳 – Wu He Quan) of Chinese Martial arts (i.e. ‘拳法’, or ‘Quan Fa’) – under the guidance of Master Xie Zhong Xiang. During this time, Miyagi Chojun trained in the following well known aspects of ‘Crane Law’, or ‘鶴法’ (He Fa);
六機手 (Liu Ji Shou) – Six Crucial Point Hand
鐵骨手 (Tie Gu Shou) – Iron Bone Hand
爪子手 (Sa Jiao Shou) – Claw Hand
鐵沙手 (Tie Sha Shou) – Iron Sand Hand
撒攪手 (Sa Jiao Shou) – Spread Mix Hand
草枝手 (Cao Zhi Shou) – Grass Stick Hand
天刀手 (Tian Dao Shou) – Divine Knife Hand
(Source: According to the document entitled ‘Wu Bei Zhi’ (武備誌) or ‘Martial Perfection Record’). Upon his return to Okinawa, Miyagi Chojun developed these arts into ‘Zhuan Zhang’ (轉掌), or ‘Turning Palm’, known in Okinawan as ‘Tensho’.
In 1915-1916, Master Higaonna Kanryo passed away. Master Miyagi Chojun inherited Higaonna Kanryo’s training hall (道場 – Dao Chang) and lineage of martial arts. Later, Master Miyagi Chojun became the Karate-do instructor for the Okinawan Ministry of Police and the University. In 1930, Miyagi Chojun believed that it was necessary to give his developed martial arts system a distinctive name. He understood that the White Crane Fist (白鶴拳 – Bai He Quan) had spread from China to Okinawa, and so consulted the classic book known as the ‘武備誌’ (Wu Bei Zhi), or ‘Martial Perfection Record’. In the chapter entitled ‘拳法大要八句’ (Quan Fa Da Yao Bu Ju), or ‘Fist Law Great Essential Eight Phrases’, it says –
‘The heart and mind of humanity is (essentially) identical with the divine-sky and (the broad) earth. The blood flows in accordance with the (movements of the) sun and the moon. The law (of the universe) is both ‘hard’ (剛 – gang) and ‘soft’ (柔 – rou). The body changes with the cycle of the seasons. The hand enters and conforms to the principle of emptiness. To advance and retreat must be measured and timely; the two distinct movements become united. It is essential to be aware in all directions. The ‘hearing’ should permeate through the eight directions. The middle-point (between extremes) contains the guiding principle for martial arts. The ‘law of the hard – soft interaction’ (法剛柔吞吐) is dependent upon the harmonious interaction of yin and yang. The inward breath and the outward breath should be co-ordinated with the relaxing and tensing of the muscles – this is the principle of making power in martial arts. Through the focus of the ‘intention’ (意), the ‘hard’ and the ‘soft’ (柔) are integrated (濟).’
The ‘Lineage Inheritor’ (教授 – Jiao Shou) – Miyagi Chojun – declared that his martial art would be known as ‘剛柔流空手道’ (Chinese; ‘Gang Rou Liu Kong Shou Dao’), or ‘Goju Ryu Karate-Do’ in the Okinawan language. Therefore, Master Miyagi Chojun was the first person to call his martial art ‘Goju Ryu’.
The ancestor of the school (流祖 – Liu Zu) – Master Miyagi Chojun – passed away from illness in 1953. During his life there was never a moment that was not ceaselessly dedicated to the practice and research of Goju Ryu Karate-Do. The number of his (lineage) descendents is innumerable. Today, Karate-Do has become a world-wide martial art, and sporting athletic activity.
We believe, as practitioners of Goju Ryu Karate-Do, that we are preserving a deep historical tradition of martial understanding. We hope that everyone will find pleasure in its practice!
©opyright: Adrian Chan-Wyles (ShiDaDao) 2012.
Original Chinese Language Source Article: http://www.karate.org.hk/karate-history.htm