Miyagi teaching at naha koko bukatsu

Karate (which literally means "empty hand") is an Okinawan and Japanese martial art, characterized by the use of punching and kicking techniques, as well as sweeps, throws, joint locks, and traditional weapons training. More important than the physical skills learned through martial arts training are the tremendous spirit, discipline and dedication that karate cultivates. It also greatly improves physical fitness and confidence, and is a highly effective method of self-protection. Karate can be studied by students of every age and physical ability, and offers positive benefits in every aspect of the student's life. 

For children, the martial arts are a terrific way to learn physical coordination, social skills, and respect in a fun, safe environment. For teens and adults, the opportunities to improve physical health, relieve stress, and learn practical self-protection skills are second to none.

Okinawan karate has a long history as a civilian self-defense system and holistic means of improving the individual physically, mentally, and spiritually. In the 1930s, karate began its migration to mainland Japan, where it became incredibly popular in universities and in public schools. Following the second World War, American soldiers stationed in Japan began studying karate, and brought it back to the United States with them when they returned home.

Goju-ryu means "hard/soft style" in Japanese, and is the style of karate formed by Sensei Chojun Miyagi (1888-1953) based on the White Crane style of kung fu and Okinawan Boxing (called "te"). It is unique for its blend of hard and soft techniques, circular movements, and emphasis on breathing technique that improves cardiovascular health, builds strong abdominal muscles, and is meditative in focus. Goju-ryu is a close-range fighting system designed to be effective regardless of body type or size. 

Unlike many other styles of karate that teach expansive curricula with dozens of forms (kata), Goju-Ryu approaches martial arts education with a philosophy that one's training should be "narrow, but deep" — meaning that the goal of years of dedicated training should be expert proficiency in a curriculum that is comprehensive in scope and efficient in size. In this way, each kata emphasizes key concepts that are unique and eliminate the redundancies found in other syllabi. 

Sensei Chojun Miyagi is credited as the founder of goju-ryu karate, which he developed based on his training in White Crane kung fu and early styles of karate through his teacher Kanryo Higaonna. Sensei Miyagi taught many world famous martial artists who continued his legacy, including Sensei Gogen "The Cat" Yamaguchi, who brought goju-ryu to Japan and popularized it by being one of the first martial artists to teach karate in the Japanese school systems. Sensei Yamaguchi also taught karate to American soldiers stationed in Japan in the 1950s, including Sensei Peter Urban, a New Jersey native who became one of the pioneers of karate in the United States, founding USA Goju and teaching thousands of students over the course of his lifetime, including our teacher, Shihan Jim Chillemi. (To read more about Shihan, click here.)