Kenwa Mabuni, Chojun Miyagi and Gichin Funakoshi

Kenwa Mabuni senseiChojun Miyagi SenseiThree famous students of the two masters (Kanryo Higaonna and Ankoh Itosu) were Kenwa Mabuni, Chojun Miyagi and Gichin Funakoshi. In later years, each of them taught in Japan having a major influence on the development of karate.

At this time there were no names or styles of karate: karate was simply referred to by the city where it was taught, either Shuri or Naha. The Japanese word for hand is “te” therefore it was called Shuri-te or Naha-te (hand fighting from Shuri or Naha).

In the late 1890s karate began to be taught in the schools of Okinawa, such was the respect it commanded from the locals. This regard was due mainly to its highly valued qualities of discipline, health, and self-defence.

It was only in 1915 that karate was introduced to mainland Japan after a demonstration was given for the Emperor by one of the top Okinawan karate Masters, Gichin Funakoshi (mentioned above). It soon became popular with the Japanese people and other masters were encouraged to visit from Okinawa to teach the art, among them Kenwa Mabuni and Chojun Miyagi. This teaching mainly took place in the Japanese universities. It was then that the Japanese decided to give names to distinguish between the teaching methods of the Masters.

Gichin Funakoshi
was the name given to Gichin Funakoshi‘s method.

Goju ryu meaning ‘hard-soft‘ style) was Chojun Miyagi‘s choice.

Wado-ryu, another well-known karate style was developed and later named by one of Gichin Funakoshi‘s students, Hironori Ohtsuka.

Shito-ryu was the name chosen by Kenwa Mabuni. He had studied under both Ankoh Itosu and Kanryo Higaonna in Okinawa and the name “Shi-to” is made up from Japanese characters for their names. Shito-ryu is the style of karate that we practice.