Isshinryu

History of Isshinryu Karate

  Miyagi (1888-1953) was the best student of the Naha-te grandmaster, Kanryo Higashionna (1845-1915). Higashionna had established Naha-te by combining te with Chinese kempo, which he had studied for years in China. Naha-te was distinguished by its integration of soft kempo and hard kempo. It emphasized the Sanchin stance, which Higashionna had developed to the point that he was immovable when he had assumed the stance and heated the floor with the powerful gripping of his toes. Miyagi studied with Higashionna for a number of years then went to China himself to study kempo. He returned to Okinawa and formulated the style called Goju-ryu (hard/soft way). For accounts of his deeply respected personality and his lifelong devotion to and techniques in karate, consult the chapters on Miyagi by Richard Kim and Frank Van Lenten. Miyagi was known as an exacting sensei whose grueling workouts greatly strengthened the body and built up endurance. With Miyagi, Tatsuo Shimabuku went through training that was very influential to the ultimate development of Isshin-ryu; for example, the emphasis on breathing and tension, the low kicks, and the development of mind, body and spirit. Motobu was a less formal instructor, but an accomplished master in Shorin-ryu, and an indomitable fighter. Coming from an ancient line of Okinawan nobles, he had an eccentric personality and an enormous physique. As Richard Kim states, he is remembered as a brawler as well as a master, but no doubt his instruction offered Tatsuo Shimabuku invaluable lessons on the practical application of the art of karate.