The History of Karate: Okinawan Goju-Ryu (英語) ペーパーバック – 1998/5
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Morio Higaonna was born on December 25, 1938 in Naha, Okinawa and grew up just around the corner from the house of the famous Chojun Miyagi. He began his karate training in 1953, at the age of 14, under the tutelage of his father, a Shorin Ryu stylist. At the age of 15 he began training with a friend, Tsunetaka Shimabukuro, another Shorin Ryu stylist. In 1955 Shimabukuro, who also trained Goju-Ryu at the garden dojo of Chojun Miyagi, encouraged the young Higaonna to study this powerful style and, with an introduction to the garden dojo, Higaonna was accepted as a student. He relates, When I first joined I remember thinking that An'ichi Miyagi was the head of the garden dojo since he was the one who did all the teaching. This impression was furthered by Koshin Iha, who was in charge of collecting the training fees. I'll never forget him pointing to Anichi Sensei and saying, Anichi-san is the most knowledgeable person here. Go and learn from him.
Chojun Senseis widow, Makato, was still living at this time. Usually the first to arrive, Higaonna would do various chores to get the area ready for the evenings practice. He would finish these chores well before the other students would arrive and Makato would sometimes call him over to chat. Of all the things they spoke about, Higaonna vividly remembers two things Mrs. Miyagi told him: 1)For those who practice martial arts, smoking is the worst thing for the body, so you must never smoke; and 2)You should learn from Anichi Miyagi. Higaonna took her words to heart in both cases.
Higaonna also taught karate at his high school karate club, completely filling his days with his passion.
In 1960 Higaonna moved to Tokyo to attend Takushoku University. His passion for karate continued to drive him and during his free time he would visit various dojos around the Tokyo area. One dojo owner (Aragaki) in the Yoyogi district of Tokyo invited Higaonna to teach there, even though it was a Shorin Ryu dojo. It wasnt long before Yoyogi Dojo converted to Goju-Ryu. Higaonna's reputation and popularity grew, reaching to the four corners of the globe. Within a few years he had developed such a large following that the need for a formal organization became apparent. At the urging of his followers, and with the support of many of Chojun Miyagi's senior students, in 1979 Higaonna formed the International Okinawan Goju-Ryu Karate-Do Federation (IOGKF) with the purpose to preserve, protect and disseminate the true teachings of Chojun Miyagi and Okinawan Goju-Ryu.
The Technical Headquarters for the IOGKF is in Okinawa at the HIGAONNA DOJO, where Sensei Higaonna teaches. However, with tens of thousands of members worldwide, Sensei Higaonna travels extensively throughout each year teaching seminars and gasshukus (karate camps). Even with his hectic schedule, he himself trains several hours every day, for he feels that one should never cease learning and expanding ones own knowledge and he encourages his instructors to do the same.
In addition to teaching and conducting seminars throughout the world, Sensei Higaonna has produced scores of technical books and videos to aid serious students in their training and development.
In 1997 the acclaimed Nihon Kobudo Kyokai, whose primary mission is to protect and preserve traditional martial arts, inducted Morio Higaonna into their ranks and recognized him as the SOLE representative for Okinawan Goju-Ryu karate in the world.
Sensei Higaonna continues to devote his life to the research, training and the dissemination of Okinawan Goju-Ryu.
Higaonna relates the recollections of men like Seko Higa, Seisho Aniya, An'ich' Miyagi, Meitoku Yagi, Yoshimi (Gogen) Yamaguchi, Seiko Kina, Shichi Arakaki and many more. This volume is packed with valuable historic photos, and includes a number of tables which compare Okinawan, Fujian, and Mandarin names for forms and weapons. There is an appendix with a number of interesting referrences, including laws imposed upon Okinawa by the Satsuma clan after the Island came under japanese domination, and brief biographies of prominent figures whi influenced the development of Goju, such as White Crane Master Go Ken-ki. There is a glossary as well as an index. The only glaring error I found was in the index, where the names of Okinawan persons were cataloged by their first and not last names--evidently a computer error nobody caught.
For anyone with a driving interest in Okinawa karate or general Okinawa history, this is an important volume which should not be neglected. What a pleasure to read! Higaonna's 4 volume series, "Traditional Karate-Do: Okinawa Goju Ryu" volumes 1-4 is also highly recommended for those seeking a perfect technical guide.
First, the name should be "Historical stories of Goju Ryu Karate" since it does not mention other karate styles of Okinawa (shuri-te, shorin ryu, ...).
Second, I would expect to read more detailed information about the history of the Goju Ryu techniques, if this is about "History of ..."
Third, more hard facts are needed to turn the book into a historical resource. Here we only see told stories.
What I love about this book is that it is well written, very clear with a good index. It is well organized chronologically and the pictures are actually some that you haven't seen in other books and are interesting. There are pictures of Miyagi that I haven't seen before, as well as pictures of turn of the century China and Okinawa. It gives a great overview of how things looked and a generally good feeling of how things must have been at the time.
What I don't like about this book is that I find it biased in a few different ways. Some may be intentional to make the Goju-ryu style more historically and culturally significant that it actually is (not to say it isn't, but there's no need to twist the truth over it). Others are simply because of Higaonna's inexperience as a historian. He has done a lot of first hand digging in China and around Okinawa to get direct accounts from as many sources as possible. This is done well. The conclusions that he draws from the reports that he has are a little shaky at times however.
He will sometimes assert or dismiss a formerly accepted view because his instructor "would probably have told him if it were true" or "the teaching of Tote was done in secret at the time" with no supporting evidence. It would be better to say that he doesn't know, and leave it at that.
Despite these flaws, the book contains a lot of new information that has been researched directly by the author and people who worked with him. It represents a considerable amount of effort that created a book well worth your time.