Shogun Miyagi

Chojun Miyagi Miyagi (1887 - 1953)

MIYAGI, CHOJUN (1888-1953) Okinawan karate master and pioneer; founder of goju-ryu. When Miyagi was 14 he started training in karate on Okinawa, from Sept. 1902 to Oct. 1915, under the foremost Naha-te grandmaster, Kanryo Higashionna. After training in karate for 13 years, Miyagi sailed to China and studied chugoku kempo in Foochow, Fukien, from Nov. 1915-17. When he returned to Okinawa he was instructor at the Okinawa-ken Police Training Center, Naha City Commercial School, Okinawa Normal School, Okinawa Recreational and Health Center, and others. In 1928 Miyagi traveled to Japan and instructed karate at Kyoto Imperial University, Kansai University, and Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto. He was made chairman of the Okinawan-ken Taiiku Kyokai Karate-do (Okinawa Prefecture Athletic Association Karate Division) in 1930. In 1934 he became permanent officer of the Okinawan branch of the Dai Nippon Butokukai (Great Japan Martial Virtues Association). As a result of his efforts, karate was first recognized officially as one of the martial arts of Japan with the formal establishment of the Dai Nippon Butokukai, Okinawa Branch, in Nov. 1933. Chinei Kinjo, editor of the Okinawan newspaper Yoen Fiho Sha, invited Miyagi to Hawaii in May 1934. There he gave lectures and taught. He returned to Okinawa in Feb. 1935. On Jan. 28, 1936, Miyagi gave a lecture in the Sakaisuji Meiji Syoten hall in Japan entitled “Things About Karate-do,” in which he said: “Karate is not to be stiff as a steel bar, but to be relaxed, always training your body and mind, prepared for a sudden attack. There is a legend that the principle of karate was based in the saying ‘There is no first move in karate.’ But in real life this discipline is not enforced much. As time went by, the principle of instruction was altered. Now we abandon the principle called ‘Tai Shu Shin Ju’ (body first, spirit second; technique first, personality second) and emphasize ‘Kenzen Itchi’ (hand and Zen are altogether), which suggests Shin Shu Tai Ju (spirit, character, personality first, body second).” In this lecture, Miyagi also said: “The year of secrecy of teaching karate has gone and the year of open-door policy is here. The future for karate looks very promising. I strongly feel that we should abandon the policy to keep karate on Okinawa a secret, and open it to the world.” Miyagi received a medal for “Excellence in the Martial Arts” in 1936 from the Ministry of Education in Japan. Also that year, he studied Chinese martial arts at the Seibu Dai Iku Kai (Great Gymnastic Association, Pure Martial Arts Spirit) in Shanghai. In May 1937 Prince Moriwasa Nashimoto, Commissioner of the Dai Nippon Butokukai, authorized Miyagi, with the headmaster of Shinto shizen-ryu (jujutsu), and the headmaster of kushin-ryu (also jujutsu), to form the Dai Nippon Butokukai Karate Jukkyoshi (Great Japan Martial Arts Karate Teachers’ Association). They inspected and regulated karate throughout Japan until the dissolution of the association. In 1937 Miyagi received the kyoshi (assistant professor) degree from the Dai Nippon Butokukai. He was made in 1946 an official of the Okinawa Minsei Taiiku Kan (Okinawa Democratic Athletic Association). In 1953, Miyagi was instructing at the Ryukyu Police Academy in Naha City, Okinawa. He died Oct. 8, 1953, of a heart attack. Miyagi subjected tnt; art of Naha-te. as received from Kanryo Higashionna, to scientific examination. Originally, a martial arts expert was trained for killing with one blow. Karate as such was unsuitable for the contemporary world. Miyagi studied the basic “go” (Sanchin ) and the six rules and created the “ju” (tensho) form combining soft and hard movements. He also organized auxiliary movements to strengthen the body through calisthenics. He organized these exercises in preparation for practicing the kaishu kata. Thus. he formulated the theory for the practice of karate and organized it as an educational subject, an art of self-defense, and as a spiritual exercise. From the old Chinese book Wu pei chih, an Army Account of Military Arts and Science published in 1636. Miyagi took the expression “Goju” as it appears in the sentence: “The successful methods required both give and take (Go-ju),” for the name of his school. He was the first karate master to organize a school of karate on Okinawa and give it a name apart from the city in which it was practiced, as it Naha-te, Shuri-te, and Tomari-te. Miyagi often used the slogan Nanji Kyokuden, meaning to awl, all one’s strength, to be determined in everything that one does defeat is not the end; losing is not the end of everything. Meitoku Yagi was named Miyagi’s successor in Okinawan goju-ryu and accordingly inherited the grandmaster’s karate gi and belt in 1963.