The ethnically Chinese ‘Shen’ (慎) family of Okinawa changed their family to ‘Higaonna’ (东恩纳 - Dong En Na). This is correct as the family of Higaonna Kanryo were of ethnic Chinese descent and were one of the many Chinese families that migrated from China to settle in Okinawa (Ryukyu). Higaonna Kanryo was the 10th generation descendent of the Chinese people who originally migrated to Okinawa (Ryukyu) from China – and the name of his father was ‘Higaonna Onna’ (东恩纳宽用 - Dong En Na Kuan Yong).
Why Did the Higaonna Family Change Their Family (Surname)?
Why did they change their family (surname) from the Chinese-sounding ‘Shen’ (慎) to the Japanese-sounding ‘Higaonna’ (东恩纳 - Dong En Na)? Legend states that after Japan annexed and occupied the Ryukyu Islands – all the ethnically Chinese people were forced to change their family (surnames) to Japanese-sounding equivalents. The new Japanese government control made it illegal for ethnic Chinese families to continue to use their ancestral names. This is when the Chinese ‘Shen’ (慎) family changed their name to the Japanese-sounding ‘Higaonna’ (东恩纳 - Dong En Na) surname. However, despite this new Japanese policy – many ethnically Chinese families living in Okinawa (Ryukyu) publically presented their family (and ‘first’) names in the Japanese language (for official, commercial and legal reasons) - but carried on in secret giving their children ethnically Chinese family (and ‘first’) names so that they would not forget that they were of ‘Chinese’ ethnic and cultural origin! Therefore, the ‘Chinese’ name given to ‘Higaonna Kanryo’ was ‘慎善熙’ or ‘Shen Shanxi’!
What Was the Real Reason Higaonna Kanryo Travelled to China to Learn Martial Arts?
The Shen family was engaged in the maritime business and possessed a fleet of ships that collected, transported and delivered trading goods between the many Ryukyu Islands. When Higaonna Kanryo was aged around 13 years (and four months) old, his father – Higaonna Onna – was killed by a knife-blow whilst engaged in a dispute with an individual in a tavern. After this, the family business was taken over by relatives. Although still young, even at 13 years of age, Higaonna Kanryo was already a well-built youth! He had heard that Chinese martial arts possessed the ability to kill enemies with a single blow and so he naively thought that if he could travel to China – learn these deadly arts – and then return to Okinawa to take revenge on his father’s killer! Travelling to China in those days invariably meant travelling to ‘Fuzhou’ (the capital city of Fujian province), a process which was legally difficult and depended primarily upon the weather! As the boats depended upon sails – and given that there were no motorboats in those days – the weather had to be just right before any journey could begin. The wooden boats of those days were very ‘light’ and built for in-coast travelling at speed. There were not very robust and not suited for the wide-open seas. If a storm was encountered at any point on the journey – certain death was almost ensured! All these difficulties existed even if the legal documents to travel to China could be cleared by the Japanese and Chinese Authorities! All these difficulties formed barriers between Higaonna Kanryo and his wish to travel to (Fuzhou) in China!
Higaonna Kanryo, however, did eventually manage to achieve all these objectives using determination and a logical approach to planning. He took-on one task at a time and achieved everything in the correct order. This is how he eventually achieved his objective of successfully sailing from Okinawa to Fuzhou! Upon arrival, Higaonna Kanryo secured a place of residence in the ‘Ryukyu Pavilion’ (琉球馆 - Liu Qui Guan) - a ‘Hotel’ and ‘Hostel’ situated in Fuzhou but paid for and administered by the Ryukyu government. This establishment catered for the everyday living requirements of visiting Okinawan travellers. After he settled down and became familiar with the local culture, Higaonna Kanryo started to enquire if anyone knew of a martial arts teacher who would be willing to take-on a new apprentice? Of course, this was not an easy task as most Chinese martial arts lineages were ‘closed’ at that time and highly ‘secretive’. Fathers usually taught sons and outsiders were not permitted to learn family martial arts! An ‘outsider’ was not only a foreigner from another country – but any Chinese person originating from a different name-clan! Higaonna Kanryo was 15 years (six months) old and an ‘out-of-towner'! As a result, he searched for nearly a year but could not find a teacher. The person in charge of the Ryukyu Pavilion knew of his painstaking efforts and eventually decided to introduce him to a local 40-year-old person known publically as ‘Liu Long’ (刘龙) - (also referred to as ‘Gong’ [公 ]) a well-known and well-respected martial arts teacher! (This is a ‘transliteration’ - see Note 1).
This Liu Long (Gong) was very famous in the marketplace. Although he was highly skilled in self-defence, he did not make a living by teaching martial arts. It seems that teaching martial arts was a matter of honour (not profit) for this Master, and this made his teaching method rather strict. He earned his living through the business of transporting building materials. After Higaonna Kanryo was introduced, he was given the task of carrying bricks and tiles during the day to make a living, and only practiced martial arts at night. The tiles and bricks were heavy and had to be moved by hand from the storage area to the dock, and from the dock onto waiting barges (large, wooden boats). A working day lasted between 8-10 hours of continuous muscular effort! Higaonna Kanryo could lift one or two hundred kilograms of bricks and tiles each time and walk with this load up and down steps and across narrow planks of wood without dropping the load or losing his footing! A strong adult male would find this type of work difficult – how much more so would a youth of 15 or 16 years old! This was tremendously hard work – as can be imagined - but this kind of physical training laid a sound foundation for a wide range of martial arts techniques!
As the working environment was next to the river, Liu Long (Gong) possessed a house (and workshop) which were built by the river. This comprised of a two-storey construction made of bamboo with Liu Long (Gong) living on the upper floor with his family and Higaonna Kanryo living on the next level down. This lower level was about 2-3 meters up from the water surface, and possessed a floor made of bamboo branches which left many gaps! This meant that every night a cold wind blew through the structure arising from the water-surface just beneath the bamboo floor! This created a very cold floor that was often near to freezing – a situation which made lying down and properly sleeping a very difficult task! To survive the cold, Higaonna Kanryo would get up and practice the ‘Sanchin’ (三战 - San Zhan) or ‘Three Battles’ dynamic tension exercise until dawn – when the coldness would begin to pass! This may well explain why Higaonna Kanryo’s ‘Sanchin’ Kata was considered so good! (See Note 2).
It is believed that ‘Liu Long’ (刘龙) is his real name, with the designation ‘Gong’ (公) being honorific. From the Fuzhou language that spread to Okinawa – his name is used whilst describing his fast feet – which phonetically transliterates as ‘ka gin ka ryu ryu’ (‘Really fast feet of Liu Long’). This suggests that ‘Liu Long’ (Ryu Ryu) is his real name – and not ‘Liu Longgong’. However, this does not exactly corelate to ‘Ryu Ryu KO’ (如如哥 - Ru Ru Ge).
Higaonna Kanryo’s ‘Sanchin’ Kata was declared to be ‘excellent’ after he returned to Okinawa! This came about after a local martial artist named ‘Hucheng’ (湖城) challenged Higaonna Kanryo – stating that his ‘Sanchin’ Kata was superior! The allegation was that Higaonna Kanryo’s ‘Sanchin’ Kata was inferior is some way and this created a great controversy throughout Okinawa! Many local martial artists were eager to see this matter settled once and for all. Therefore, a doctor (and his medical assistants) from the Okinawa Prefectural Hospital was invited to help with the investigation. He was given the task of deciding from a medical point of view, which version of the ‘Sanchin’ Kata generated the greater strength!
This led to Higaonna Kanryo and Hucheng demonstrating their respective versions of the ‘Sanchin’ Kata in-front of a panel of medical experts! The performances were examined by the medical doctor who paid close attention to the length of time each inward, outward and transitional breath took, the capacity to take-in and expel ‘air’ (气 - Qi), and the consistency and firmness of muscular ‘tension’ (力 - Li) achieved. The full breathing and muscular tension had to be maintained whist stepping forward and back, and whilst changing the positions of the arms and hands, etc. The medical results proved that the ‘Sanchin’ Kata as performed by Higaonna Kanryo was several times more impressive (and effective) than the version exhibited by ‘Hucheng’. The doctors were surprised to witness the length and depth of each inward, outward and transitional breath made by Higaonna Kanryo as well as the extent of ‘qi’ energy he was able to accumulate and circulate! Furthermore, the doctors checked and confirmed that Higaonna Kanryo was able to ‘retract’ his testicles into the lower abdomen during his performance of the ‘Sanchin’ Kata – and retain this ‘retraction’ with no difficulty whilst stepping in different directions! This is an ancient martial arts ability that is rare in the modern age and is termed ‘吊裆藏阳功夫’ (Diao Dang Cang Yang Gong Fu) or ‘Hanging Groin Concealment Positive Energy [Yang] Martial Self-Cultivation). This (internal) ancient martial arts method was developed to protect a male practitioner from being kicked (or otherwise ‘struck’) in the testicle area of the groin. When all these abilities were fully investigated and verified, the skill-level of Higaonna Kanryo was declared to be obviously of a far superior level! Indeed, the people of Okinawa were (and are) very proud of the ‘Naha Te’ (那霸手 - Na Ha Shou) style of martial arts Higaonna Kanryo practiced and taught. (‘Naha Te’ is considered the foundational forerunner to the ‘Goju Ryu’ [刚柔 - Hard-Soft] style of martial arts that was later developed by his disciples – specifically ‘Miyagi Chojun’ [宮城 長順]). Of course, ‘Naha’ is a famous city situated to the South of Okinawa.
Although it was common knowledge that Higaonna Kanryo had travelled to Fuzhou to train in Chinese martial arts as a means to enact revenge upon his father’s murderer – time passed, and he took no action against the killer! Instead, the now older and more mature Higaonna Kanryo was a strong role model who upheld the law and was respected by the entire community! He seemed to show no interest in his father’s murderer and simply went about his day! Months went by and nothing happened. Meanwhile, the murderer of his father was aware of this situation and as time went by his mental state became ever more restless and apprehensive. He had no idea when Higaonna Kanryo would take action or make his move. From his perspective – the psychological and physical pressure became almost unbearable! This prompted the killer to visit the home of Higaonna Kanryo and knelt down outside his front door and bowed his head to the ground! He begged for forgiveness and explained that both he and his father were drunk, and both had got into an alcohol-fuelled brawl which ended in the latter's death. He further explained that it was his father who drew his own knife and attacked him - and that he was forced to defend himself! He took the knife off his father and accidently stabbed his father with it – who died from the wound! He was arrested tried by the Okinawan Authorities – who agreed upon the details of the case (confirming that it was an act of ‘murder’ carried-out in ‘self-defence’) and returned the knife to the Higaonna family (as it was their property)! The individual concerned was sent to prison and had served his time. After listening to this story, Higaonna Kanryo agreed with this explanation and stated that this individual should no longer worry about the expected consequences of his actions! Higaonna Kanryo stated ‘Okay, I believe you. Forget about it!’ Many people had gathered to watch what they thought would be a good but one-sided fight – thought this was an anti-climax whilst others thought it was a good moral lesson concerned with proper virtuous action! Children in Okinawa were taught this lesson in their schools with this episode becoming widely known! The reaction and demeanour of Higaonna Kanryo was considered historically significant and a superb demonstration of ‘good’ behaviour versus ‘bad’ behaviour.
There are many stories regarding Higaonna Kanryo but they differ in detail from those passed-on by Miyagi Chojun. There is a legend that Liu Long (Gong) made a living by weaving bamboo wares, but when Higaonna Kanyro was young, he did not understand this and only remembered the career that Liu Long (Gong) had taken-up later in his life. The ‘Yi Mou’ (一缪) biography suggests that the teacher of Higaonna Kanryo was the ‘Whooping Crane Fist’ (鸣鹤拳 - Ming He Quan) named ‘Xie Chongxiang’ (谢崇祥) who was also known as ‘Xie Ruru’ (谢如如). This is a story past down by the descendants of Master Xie Ruru – with some Goju Ryu practitioners believing this is the case. The problem is that according to a number of stories the age difference between Liu Long (Gong) and Higaonna Kanryo is at least 20 years. Whereas the difference between Xie Ruru and Higaonna Kanryo is only 1 year. Liu Long (Gong) died at least 15 years before Xie Chongxiang (who died in 1930). When Miyagi Chojun went to China to pay homage to Liu Long (Gong) in 1915 – Liu Long (Gong) was already dead (the exact date is unknown) – whereas Xie Chongxiang was still alive at this point. This has led to a number of disrespectful stories developing regarding Goju Ryu practitioners not knowing who their Chinese ancestral Master was and where the respect should be directed, etc! As there is a doubt about which name should be engraved upon the ancestral gravestone – there is a joke about Goju Ryu practitioners ‘waiting’ for a tomb stone to appear! These disrespectful attitudes often emerge from people who are jealous of the excellent standard of martial art technique found within the Katas of the Goju Ryu system!
Having said all this, it is also important to state that Higaonna Kanryo was born and brought up on a boat and did not receive any formal education. In addition, he went to Fuzhou, China to learn martial arts for 14 years (and 5 months) - and worked and practiced every day. As this was the case, it was impossible for him to receive any formal cultural education. As a consequence, Higaonna Kanryo had a very limited ability to read and write. This meant that he could not record his experience in writing whilst living and training in China! Miyagi Chojun was Higaonna Kanryo’s only ‘inner disciple’ (内弟子- Nei Di Zi) and when his name was transmitted to Miyagi Chojun – it was only in the local colloquial dialect – and even then, only phonetical! All the other ordinary students training under Higaonna Kanryo did not even receive that information! Originally, when Miyagi Changshun went to Fuzhou to pay homage to Liu Long (Gong), he had Liu's name. He discovered his date of birth - and the date of his death - which were all recorded on his tombstone. It is a pity that all the information was destroyed in the Battle of Okinawa. Mr Shang Anyi (上安一) states that if a lineage is not clear – then it should not be taught as fact. (This is a common attitude found within tradition Chinese martial arts). A problem has been caused by the very success of Higaonna Kanryo’s travelling to China and learning a system of traditional Chinese martial arts! Not only did he transmit this to Okinawa in a clear and concise manner, it has been successfully passed on in a technically pristine state! Goju Ryu has blind spots and vague details in its history - yes – but it has spread far and wide and has influenced the development of many other martial arts styles, schools and systems! There is a central truth to its transmission – just as there is a body of accrued material that is difficult to prove or disprove! It is an ongoing project as many people in China and Okinawa strive to clarify this matter! It is beyond question that through Higaonna Kanryo’s efforts – a hundred flowers of cultural influence have blossomed! Surely, Higaonna Kanryo would have found this truly unexpected!
Miyagi Chojun (宫城长顺 - Gong Cheng Zhang Shun) Transmitted to Miyagi Anichi (宫城安一 - Gong Cheng An Yi)
Miyagi Anichi (宫城安一 - Gong Cheng An Yi) Related to Lin Shifan (林师范)
The History of Goru Ryu Karate-Do - By Higaonna Morio (东恩纳 盛男 - Dong En Na Sheng Nan)
东恩纳宽量是移居琉球的中国人慎氏家族的后裔,传到他已经是第 10 代了,其父名东恩纳宽用。
慎氏家族是从事海运事业的,拥有船队运输各种物资往来冲绳岛各个岛屿。当宽量13/4 岁时,一天,他父亲宽用在酒馆内与人争执被人用刀杀死。宽用死后,家族生意被其他亲属接管了,当时宽量还是一个大孩子,整天在想着为父报仇,听说中国武术可以轻易的把敌人杀死,便天真地想到去中国学武,希望学成回来便可为父报仇 … 但当年要去中国（福州）并不容易也不简单,除了手续繁复外,还要看天气、风向等各种因素稳定后船只才可以开航的,原因当年并没有机动船,那些去中国福州的都是木制的帆船,如果遇到大风浪可以说是九死一生十分危险的,宽量搞了一年多才能以到中国求学为理由,拿到去中国的渡牒批文等有关的官方文件,达成去中国（福州）的梦想。
去到福州后,便在琉球馆（琉球政府办的旅馆）安顿下来然后便四处打听寻师学艺,然当时学武也有一点隐闭,对一个 15/6 岁的外地人来说实非易的,结果他找了近一年还找不到,琉球馆的负责人知道他的苦心,介绍他给当地一位 40 来岁,武功高强的老师刘龙(公)(译名)注 1。这位刘龙（公）在坊间是十分有名,虽然武艺高强,但并非以授武维生的,授武好像是他的业余爱好而且教学也相当严格。他是经营运输建筑材料生意的。宽量入门后,便安排他白天在做搬砖运瓦的工作以维持生计,晚上才练武。
当年运输砖瓦的工具是用一些较大的木船,搬砖运瓦上船可不是一件轻松的工作,每天 8-10 个小时,每次挑一两百斤的砖瓦,整天不停的在吊板上搬上搬下就算成年人也会感到吃力,何况一个仅十五六岁的大孩子？其辛苦之处可想而知。但这样的肉体磨练却为宽量的练武奠下良好的基础。
因为作业环境在河边,刘龙（公）的住家和工场都建在河边上,一栋两层高,用竹建成的房子,刘龙（公）跟家人住在上层,宽量就住在下一层；下层离开水面约 2-3 米高,用竹枝拼成的地板是会有很多缝隙的,每到深夜,冷风由竹地板下吹上来,宽量被冻到不能安睡,终于他找到一个驭寒的方法,便是起来练‘三战',一直练到天亮。 这可能是他的‘三战'注 2 那么出众的背后原因？
推测 刘龙 是他的正名,‘公'则可能是一个尊敬语。由一句流传到冲绳描述他的脚法快的福州语：“ka gin ka ryu ryu”（脚真快刘龙）中可以推测到他的名字是刘龙。并不是刘龙公,更不是什么‘如如哥'。
另一缪传是说宽量的师父就是鸣鹤拳的谢如如 谢崇祥）相信是他的后人自编自说的故事,有关的传说资料都显示出刘龙跟宽量的年龄相差最少有二十多年,而不是他们传说的宽量的师父就是谢崇祥,因两人的年岁只相差 1 岁,而且刘龙去世的年期比谢崇祥最少早 15 年,因宫城长顺去拜祭刘龙（公）时是 1915 年(刘是 1915 年之前已去世的,正确日子不详）,而谢崇祥还未死,他是 1930 年才去世的。
话说回头,宽量因自小在船上生话,并没有受过什么文化教育,加上后来去了中国福州学武整整 14/5 年,每天干活练武,更没可能去接受文化教育,所以他的文化水平很低,正因如此,他无法把在福州的经历用笔写下, 以至后来连师父的名字都是用口语（拼音）来传述给宫城长顺（他唯一的内弟子）,其它普通的弟子根本无从知悉。
刚柔流空手道史 - 东恩纳 盛男著