The development of Gojū-ryū goes back to Higashionna Kanryo, (1850-1915), a native of Naha, Okinawa (south of Japan and east of China). As a teenager, he trained with an Okinawan master, named Arakaki Seisho, before moving to Fujian Province, China, to study Wushu (Kung Fu) from Master Ryu Ryu Ko. Higashionna returned to Okinawa during the middle of the Meiji Era (1868-1911) and continued in the family business of selling firewood, while teaching a new school of martial arts, distinguished by its integration of go-no (hard) and jū-no (soft) Kempo in one system.
The word karate (empty hand) was not in common use at that time, and Higashionna’s style was known as Naha-te. It is accepted that Chinese Nanpa Shorin-ken was the strain of kung fu that influenced this style. As such, this style and that of Uechi Ryu were built upon a similar foundation.
Higashionnas most prominent student was Chojun Miyagi (1888-1953) who began training under Higashionna at the age of 12.
After Higashionnas death, Miyagi sailed to China and studied there for several years, returning to Naha in 1918. Many of Higashionna's students continued to train with him, including Higa Seiko (1898-1966). However, Higashionna's most senior student Juhatsu Kyoda, who studied under Higaonna one month longer than Miyagi, formed his school To'on-Ryu (“Higaonna's style”) preserving more of Higashionna’s approach to Naha-te.
Goju-Ryu was the first officially recognized style of Karate in Japan by Dai Nippon Butokukai, and the only style of Karate with a full historical representation in both Okinawa and Japan.
Our own Honbu (home) dojo is situated in Wigan, headed by Tony Christian, who trained under Teruo Chinen. Teruo Chinen studied under Eichi Miazato, who in turn was a student of Chojun Miyagi- so you can see it all goes a way back, and direct to the founders themselves! Bill Parkinson brought our Goju Ryu branch down to Milton Keynes. We make a few trips up to the Honbu dojo each year, and it is well worth it for anyone to make sure they get experience training at Honbu under Tony Christian during their training in Goju.