Independently wealthy, Chojun Miyagi was able
to devote his life to the exclusive study of the martial arts.
Unsurpassed as a teacher and developer of the art, he once said, "If
I had devoted my time and wealth to some other enterprise, I would
have been successful. But I devoted my life to mastering everything
from Master Higashionna." And so he did. After his master's
death, Master Miyagi journeyed to China twice to study and collect
further literature on the martial arts. A pioneer in internationalizing
karate, he also traveled to mainland Japan and Hawaii to spread
In 1933, when Dai Nippon Butoku Kai (the
largest martial arts organization recognized by the pre-war Japanese
government) was established, Master Miyagi, as the representative
of the Okinawan martial artists, presented his article, "An
Outline of Karate-do." As a result of his presentation, karate
received formal recognition as a Japanese martial art. Master Miyagi
himself was awarded the title, Karate-Do Master, the first
master in the karate world so designated.
Although Master Miyagi's command of the art was
profound, his greatest achievement was the organization of karate
teaching methods. He introduced preparation exercises, supplementary
exercises, Hookiyu Kata (unified kata), Kihon kata (basic
forms) and relaxing exercises, all truly epoch-making developments
in karate teaching. In addition, his classes in junior high and
police schools helped redefine karate's public image. At that time,
public opinion held that karate would make a person poor or fond
of quarreling. Master Miyagi's work, however, disproved these myths
and presented a more accurate picture of karate as a martial art
and physical exercise.
Although a master in the Goju-Ryu style
(Naha-te), Master Chojun Miyagi wanted to study karate
more completely. He visited the most respected master of Shuri-te,
master Anko Itosu, and asked for instruction. Master Itosu responded
by saying, "You are a top disciple of Master Higashionna and
you have mastered Naha-te techniques. You don't need to
study with me. If you watch my techniques, you will see what I
Master Miyagi persisted, however, and often visited
Master Itosu to study Shuri-te. Master Itosu did not teach
Master Miyagi physical techniques; rather, he taught the theory
of techniques. Master Itosu's influence may be seen in Master Miyagi's Hookiyu
Kata where the combination of hard and soft (as in Gekisai No.
1 and No. 2) reflect Shuri-te's movements.