A Historical and Cultural Timeline of Goju-Ryu

An introduction to the history of Karate-do, with emphasis on Goju Ryu and Okinawa

This is an attempt to show the history of Goju-Ryu within the context of its birthplace and the history surrounding its own. Through historical and cultural context, I hope to find greater understanding of Goju Ryu's origins and the influence of Okinawa and history on Karate-do. I have tried to credit sources where possible, and I am immensely grateful to the generosity of so many other martial artists for putting information online.

1429-01-01 00:00:00

The Kingdom of Ryukyu is Formed

The three kingdoms of Okinawan unite to form one kingdom which ruled most of the Ryukyu Islands from the 15th century to the 19th century

1477-01-01 00:00:00

Martial Arts Banned in Okinawa

When King Sho Shin came into power, he banned the practise of martial arts, causing it to be practised in secret.

1831-01-01 00:00:00

Ankō Itosu is Born

Considered one of the grandfathers of karate, alongside Gichin Funakoshi, he was born in Shurei, Okinawa (exact birthdate unknown)

1853-03-10 00:00:00

Higaonna Kanryo is Born

The founder of Naha-te is born in Naha, Okinawa to a merchant family.

1853-03-10 00:00:00

Higaonna's Training Begins

Higaonna begins his martial arts training with Monk Fist Boxing, learnt from a translator in the royal court of Okinawa named Arakaki Seishō.

1868-11-10 08:40:21

Gichin Funakoshi

The founder of Shotokan, the most widely-known style of Karate, is born in Shuri, Okinawa, into the Pechin (scholar/intellectual) class.

1873-01-01 00:00:00

Higaonna Trains in China

Higaonna leaves for Fujian, China, where he begins studying Chinese martial arts under various teachers. This also includes Whooping Crane Kung-Fu with Ryu Ryu Ko

1882-01-01 03:29:43

Naha-Te is Born

Higaonna returns to Okinawa and begins teaching a new style, which integrates go-no (hard) and ju-no (soft) kenpo (techniques) into one system. This becomes known as Naha-ta.

1888-04-25 14:27:48

The Birth of Chojun Miyagi

Chojun Miyagi is born in Naha, Okinawa

1899-01-01 14:27:48

Miyagi Begins His Training

Miyagi begins his training with Arakaki, Higaonna's first instructor.

1901-01-01 08:40:21

Karate Introduced into Public Schools

Itosu Anko gets karate introduced into Okinawan public schools, using two simple kata he developed.

1902-01-01 14:27:48

Miyagi Trains Under Higaonna

Miyagi begins his difficult and intense training under Higaonna.

1905-01-01 08:40:21

Anko Itosu Develops a Teaching Method

Itsou was part-time teacher of To-te at Okinawa's First Junior Prefectural High School, and it is here that he developed a systematic teaching method still used in karate today.

1905-01-01 14:27:48

Two Styles, Two Uses

Higaonna teaches two styles: naha-te for defence and to kill, and Karate, which he teaches at Naha Commercial High School for physical, intellectual and moral education.

1908-10-01 08:40:21

The Ten Precepts

Itosu wrote the influential "Ten Precepts (Tode Jukun) of Karate," reaching beyond Okinawa to Japan.

1915-10-01 14:27:48

Higaonna Kanryo Dies

Higaonna passes away, aged 63. His students continue their training with Miyagi

1916-01-01 00:00:00

Tensho Kata Created

The Goju Ryu kata Tensho is created, based on Rokkishu from Fujian White Crane style. There is some suggestion that it is adapted from Higaonna's Kakufu-kata, which has been omitted from Goju Ryu since.

1917-05-20 08:40:21

Seikichi Toguchi is Born

The founder of Shorei-kan karate is born in Naha, Okinawa. He was a student and friend of Miyagi

1920-01-01 16:27:56

Karate Introduced to Japan

After studying Shurei-ryu and Shurin-Ryu Okinawan karate, Funakoshi travelled to mainland Japan to introduce Karate to them.

1922-07-05 01:50:54

Eiichi Miyazato Born

A leading Okinawan master of Goju-ryu karate, he was a senior post-war student of Chōjun Miyagi. Miyazato held the rank of 10th dan in karate and 7th dan in judo;

1924-01-01 03:29:43

Belt Ranks are Introduced

Gichin Funakoshi, founder of Shotokan Karate, introduces the belt rank system, adopting it from Judo founder Jigoro Kano

1924-01-01 08:40:21

The First University Karate Club

Keio University introduces the first Karate sports club, and by 1932, most universities have karate clubs.

1929-01-01 00:00:00

Goju Ryu is Named

Goju Ryu is officially named after one of Miyagi's students demonstrates a kata at the All Japan Martial Arts tournament and he cannot answer a question as to the name of the style. It is named for a line in Hakku Kenpo, a poem in the Bubishi

1933-01-01 00:00:00

Goju Ryu Officially Recognised

Goju Ryu is officially recognised as a budo by Dai Nippon Butoki Kai as a gendai budo: a modern martial art.

1934-03-01 00:00:00

Karate-Do Gaisetsu Written

Miyagi writes Karate-Do Gaisetsu (Outline of Karate-Do) to provide a general history, philosophy and application.

1935-01-01 16:27:56

Funakoshi Publishes Karate-Do Kyohan

Funakoshi's Karate-Do Kyohan "The Master Text" remains his most detailed publication, containing sections on history, basics, kata, and kumite.

1938-01-01 16:27:56

Funakoshi Publishes The Twenty Guiding Principles of Karate

A collection of twenty guidelines for practising karate, not arranged in an order of importance, but denoted for equal importance by the term 'hitotsu'.

1938-12-25 08:40:21

Higaonna Morio is Born

Higaonna Morio, founder and Chief Instructor of the International Okinawan Goju-ryu Karate-do Federation (IOGKF) is born in Naha, Okinawa

1939-01-01 16:27:56

First Shotokan Dojo Built

Funakoshi built the first shotokan dojo in Tokyo in 1939. He also changed the meaning of karate from Chinese hand to Empty hand, partially due to anti-Sino sentiment,

1940-01-01 02:24:03

Gekisai Kata Invented

Gekisai kata (ich and ni) are invented as a beginner's kata and introduced into middle schools. It is designed to teach basic forms and self-defence while standardising the form.

1941-01-01 01:50:54

Fukyugata Introduced

Fukyugata are introduced for physical education lessons in order to teach Okinawn kata. It is a "promotional" kata designed to enhance strength and teach basics, and can be taught outside of a Sensei's style or particular school.

1941-12-07 01:50:54

Pearl Harbour Bombed

Japan attacks an American naval base, bringing the US into World War 2 and into the Pacific area.

1945-04-02 01:50:54

The Battle of Okinawa

A horrifically violent battle fought in Okinawa for 82 days with the invasion of the Allies. 42,000–150,000 local civilians were killed or committed suicide, which is 1/4 of the population.

1945-08-06 01:50:54

Hiroshima and Nagasaki Bombed

Atomic bombs are dropped on two Japanese cities, causing the deaths of 200,000 citizens and the surrender of Japan from WW2.

1945-08-30 01:50:54

Beginning of Ryukyu Independence Movement Begins

A movement for the independence of Okinawa and the surrounding islands (Ryukyu Islands), from Japan. The movement emerged in 1945, after the end of the Pacific War.

1945-08-30 01:50:54

Allied Occupation of Okinawa

After WW2, the Allies occupy Okinawa and establish military bases. It was returned to Japan as a prefecture in 1972. There continues to be a military presence in Okinawa to this day,

1952-01-01 01:50:54

Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan

This treaty allows the US to maintain a large military force in Japan, with 75% of all USFJ bases in Okinawa.

1952-01-01 02:24:03

Goju Ryu Shinkokai Founded

An organisation is founded to promote the growth of Goju Ryu named Goju Ryu Shinkokai.

1953-10-08 01:50:54

Chojun Miyagi Dies

Miyagi had his first heart attack in 1951, and died in Okinawa on October 8, 1953 from a second heart attack. He left behind a number of students who would go on to found new arts and federations.

1953-10-10 01:50:54

Miyazato Inherits Miyagi's Dojo

Upon Miyagi's passing, Miyazato inherits his gi, obi and dojo. He takes over teaching in the garden dojo.

1957-01-01 01:50:54

The Jundokan Opens

Miyazato establishes his own dojo, the Jundokan in Asato, Naha. It has three levels and is still open to students today.

1957-04-26 16:27:56

Gichin Funakoshi Dies

Funakoshi got oesteoarthritis in 1948, and passed away from colorectal cancer in 1957 in Tokyo, Japan.

1965-01-01 01:50:54

Renewed Calls for Conversion

Increased aggression by military personnel stationed in Okinawa heightens calls for independence of the Ryukyu islands

1969-01-01 01:50:54

Operation Red Hat

A chemical weapons leak at Chibana in central Okinawa leads to two months of evacuations, and two years of suffering for people and enviroment

1972-01-01 01:50:54

Miyazato Retires From The Police Force

Having served on the police force, Miyazato retires and dedicates his life to teaching karate.

1979-07-01 08:40:21

Higaonna Morio establishes IOGKF

The IOGKF is responsible for spreading the original Gōjū-ryū karate style of Okinawa throughout the world, following the teachings of Chojun Miyagi. In 2003, the IOGKF was estimated to have around 50,000 members in 45 countries.

1998-08-31 08:40:21

Seikichi Togushi Dies

Seikichi passes away at the age of 81, the last Okinawan to receive the title of 'bushi', which was also held by Miyagi.

1999-12-11 01:50:54

Miyazato Dies

After a period of ill-health, Miyazato passed away. On his death he is awarded 8th dan in Judo. In his lifetime he received 10th dan and numerous accolades and stewardships in Okinawan martial arts.

2007-09-01 08:40:21

Higaonna Morio Attains 10th Dan

In September 2007, Higaonna Sensei received 10th dan (the highest rank in karate) as well as a special certificate signed by Miyagi An’ichi Sensei (successor of Goju-Ryu) and Aragaki Shuichi Sensei, both of whom are direct students of Chojun Miyagi Sensei. This recognizes him as a successor in the direct line descended from Miyagi Chojun Sensei.

2009-10-01 08:40:21

First Karate Bid for the Olympics

At the 121st International Olympic Committee voting, Karate fails to get the 2/3rds vote required to be an Olympic sport. A later bid in 2013 also failed.

A Historical and Cultural Timeline of Goju-Ryu

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