Grandmaster Chojun Miyagi was born on April 25,1888. He began his Karate training in Shuri-te and at the age of 14 was introduced to Kanryo Higaonna with whom he began his study of Naha-te. Like his teacher before him, because of his great natural talent and fierce determination, he progressed very rapidly. The training was severe beyond belief at times, but his work ethic and enthusiasm was unmatched by any of the other students. He studied with his teacher for 14 years before his teacher’s death in 1915. In 1915, he journeyed to Fuzhou, China, the city where his teacher had studied martial arts. On his return to Okinawa, Miyagi began to teach the martial arts out of his home in Naha and at the Okinawan Master’s Training College.
Chojun Miyagi worked hard to spread Karate throughout Okinawa and mainland Japan. He traveled frequently to mainland Japan where he was invited to teach at Kyoto University, Kansai University and Ritsumei Kan University. In 1933, Goju-Ryu Karate was the first Okinawan martial art to be registered at the Dai Nippon Butoku-Kai, the center for all martial arts in Japan. This was a milestone for Karate, as it meant it was recognized on a level with the highly respected martial arts of Japan.
The philosophy that permeates Goju-Ryu Karate-do could be seen in its most practical way by simply observing the life of Chojun Miyagi. Indeed, Chojun Miyagi’s life was a perfect expression of the spirit and philosophy of Goju-Ryu Karate- do. After the extreme devastation of the second World War, Okinawa was left in the grip of terrible poverty. Housing and food were scarce. On occasions, when Chojun Miyagi was offered food or clothing, he always refused and noted that what little he already possessed was sufficient for his needs.
Chojun Miyagi would never compromise himself. Whatever hardships he encountered in his life, his heart (mind & spirit) would never change. He always stressed that especially in the martial arts, one must always be humble. The stronger one becomes, the more that person should express their gentler side. This is the meaning of “Go” and “Ju” (Hard/Soft).
Chojun Miyagi was a strict teacher of the martial arts but he showed great affection and love for his students. He always considered the well being of his students, not only in their training, but also in their everyday lives. Miyagi always tried to guide them along the correct path. The legacy of Chojun Miyagi is much more than just technique. He has left us with a philosophy, which is profound in its simplicity; a philosophy to help us achieve truth and virtue in our lives.