History of Goju Ryu Shodokan


(First half of 19th century)

The daughter of FANG SHIYU, who taught in Buddhist monastery FUJIAN SHAOLIN TEMPLE in the mountains of Puliang province FUZHOU style “boxing of the monkey fist”.

After the violent death of her father, she still continued learning this style.

She was still young and small and therefore not strong enough to fully use this style.

Once while sleeping she had a dream of a fighting white crane that used moves, wings, beak and legs for attack and defense.

She added these moves into the Monkey fist fighting style and created a brand-new style called White Crane.

She wanted to avenge the death of his father and reached out for help to a famous master of “tiger” style, which was ZENG CHISU. They fought together, but he couldn’t get to her, and she wasn’t strong enough to hit him effectively.

They started cooperating and FANG JINIANG inserted her style into the “tiger” system
1. Change of posture and moves
2. Fake attack
3. Targeting vitals parts of an enemy

By connecting „tiger“ style and „white crane“, they created system CHUAN FA – WHITE CRANE BOXING, this style took direct attacks and tough technics from the tiger style (go/YANG) and mellow and circular moves (ju-YIN) and dodges. It later became the very foundation of Goju ryu, because Ryu-Ryu-Ko was a student of Fang Jiniang and was learning this style.


(1852 – 1930)

Came from an aristocratic family, where he got the opportunity to learn martial arts. He left for studies to SHAOLIN in FUJIAN province.

After some internal problems, his family lost its status and he was making a living as a mason, then he became a vendor.

At that time he was starting to learn the WHITE CRANE style from FANG JINIANG.

Later he was one of the teachers of this type.

RYU RYU KO was tall and strong and incredibly fast and effective until his old age.

His knowledge and skills are exceptional in fields of: Weapon combat, combat without weapons, in the field of natural medicine and vital body parts. Many warriors from Okinawa went to his studies and afterwards went to create their own karate style – for example Higashionna, Nakaima…


(10.3.1853 – 10.1916)

Born in NISHUMURA – in NAHA.

At the age of 10 he started working with his father, he was exceptionally strong and at the age of 14, he was accepted as an adult by the traditional ceremony.

After the violent death of his father, he decided to study martial arts.

His first mentor was ARAGAKI SEISHO, a teacher of TODE, who taught him for 3 years.

His second teacher in the years of 1867-1873 was KOJO TAITEI.

In March 1873 he left to go to China to FUZHOU. He was in the “Okinawan house” RYU RYU KAN, where he was working and learning Chinese.

After that, he went to RYU RYU KA to work in a shop. That is where he started learning from Sanchin kat and later was accepted as his trainee. Even before, he learned SHAOLIN karate.

During his training he was teaching about traditional weapons from China and various types of makiwár.

Training with RYU RYU KA was very hard, even drastic. However, the information he was receiving was very valuable and broad.

He learned:
a) handling weapons: short sword – SHUTO, long sword – DAITO, SAI, BO
b) Natural, traditional medicine connected to learning about vital body parts
c) WHITE CRANE boxing style

He studied for 14 years and returned to Okinawa in 1889.


In 1901 he secretly taught his arts in his house. The training, however, was so tough most of the students left.

In year 1902, he was introduced to CHOJUNA MIYAGI by ARAGAKI and he started training with him, as well as with KENWA MABUNI.

In the year of 1905 he, together with ANKO ITOSU started teaching at a high school of trade in NAHA and implemented TODE into gym classes.

In 1905 he made an essential change in SANCHIN, where he closed his fists.

His most famous students were:

His most valuable student was KYODA JUHATSU, who was the only one who learned every kata from Kanryo Higashionna including the original Sanzer.


(22.4.1888 – 8.10.1953)

Born into a rich royal family in NAHA which owned 2 ships and traded with China.

In 1899 at the age of 11, he started his training under the guidance of RUYKO (SEISHO) ARAGAKIHO.

In 1902 he was introduced to KANRYO HIGASHIONNI by Aragaki, who began to train him. At this time, KYODA JUHATSU also started his training. Even though the training was strict and harsh, he managed to master it and was his student until his death in 1916.

In 1912 he befriended 2 Chinese tradesmen with tea, who taught him WHITE CRANE BOXING until 1920 (WU XIAN HUI = GO GENKI), also called TIGER BOXING (TANG DAJI – TO DAIKI)

In 1916 after the death of KANRYA HIGASHIONNA he went to China together with GO GEKI and EISHO KAKAMOTO to pay respect to the places he was getting trained at with RYU RYU KO. After 2 months he came back. During this stay, they also visited the southern Shaolin Monastery in FUKIEN. He began studying ROKKISHU kata, from which he later created TENSHO.

1921 in Tokyo he demonstrated karate to a royal prince HOROHITO.

1926 he founded OKINAWA KARATE RESEARCH CLUB where other masters taught their students.

1927 JIGORO KANO visited this club, the creator of Judo and CH. Hanashiro showed TODE with other aspects of fighting.

On the break of the 20-ties and 30-ties of the last century, he left South China to Fuzou with his favorite student Jinano Shizato. He learned kata Sanzeru 2 there.

1930 He came back from the coronation of HIROTO together with his student JINAN SHIZATO. He got questions about the name of the style. CHOJUN MIYAGI, inspired by BUBISHI, named his style GOJU – soft, tough. This style was later In 1933 officially registered under this name in Japanese BUTOTUKAI (Japanese association of martial arts).

1934 he spent 10 months in Hawaii.

In 1936 he visited Shanghai with GO GEKI and EISHO KAKAMOTO where he met MIAJ XING, a great master of CHUAN FA( Chinese box).

25.10.1936 a union of masters of karate changed the name TODE to KARATE – DO

Before World War II. he finished 2 student kata GEKISAI DAI 1, GEKISAI DAI 2.

He was very kind, humble and donated his property to the development of karate.

During war he lost 2 daughters, a son and his favorite student Jinan Shinzata.


It was his favorite poem of which essence originated from ancient Chinese texts Bubishi. Third row was an inspiration for the name Goju ryu.

“JINSHIN WA TENCHI NI ONAJI” – Mind is connected with the skies and earth.

“KETSUMYAKU WA NICHIGETSU NI NITARI“ – The circulatory rhythm of the body (the rhythm of the circulation of energy in the body) is similar to the cycle of alternation of the sun and the moon.

“HO WA GOJYU WO DONTO SU” – The law/rule respects the strong and the weak.

“MI WA TOKI NI SHITAGAI HEN NI ÓZU” – The activity of the body must be in accordance with time and change.

“TE WA KÚ NI AJ SUNAWACHI HAIRU” – The hands attack (come) on the occasion of the decisive moment (in the moment of truth).

“SHINTAI WA HAKARITE RIHO SU” – foot must step in, enter, divide and meet.

“ME WA SHIKÓ WO MIRU WO ÝOSU” – Eyes should look into 4 directions.

“MIMI WA YOKU HAPPO WO KIKU” – Ears should listen in 8 directions.


(8. 1. 1898 – 16. 4. 1966)

He was born on January 8, 1898 and died at the age of 68 on April 16, 1966.

In 1912, at the age of 14, he began training with Kanrya Higashionnu, where also Juhatsu Kyoda (1902 – 1915) and Chojun Miyagi (1902 – 1914) had studied. After the master’s death, he continued his apprenticeship with Chojun Miyagi from 1916.

He graduated from fishing high school and worked as a teacher at Shimpeki Elementary School.

In 1918, the founder of modern judo – Jigoro Kano from Japan – visited Okinawa and wanted to see how karate is practiced.

Seiko Higa visited him at the hotel where he was staying, and he showed him kata. Jigoro Kano was very fascinated by his performance. Jigoro Kano touched him and said he was solid and hard as an iron rod. To commemorate this visit, Jigoro Kano gave Seiko Higa calligraphy in which he wrote: “Your way of fighting is very variable and flexible.”

He was later a police officer in Naha until 1931. He left the police this year and devoted himself only to teaching karate.

In 1931, as the only one of the students, he received permission from Chojun Miyagi to open his own dojo – Goju Ryu Karate Dojo – in Shiozumi Village at the age of 33 after 19 years of hard training. Until the death of Chojun Miyagi, Seiko Higa was the only one of his students to have the permission of opening his own dojo. During Chojun Miyagi’s business trips, Seiko Higa substituted him on trainings in his dojo.

1939 – DAI NIPPON BUTOKAI granted 6th Dan to Seiko Higa.

1947 – He opened the first dojo after World War II. in Itoman High School.

1956 – After establishing the Okinawa Karate Federation, he becomes its first vice president

1960 – Founded Shodokan Goju Ryu Karate-do Clubs and was awarded the title Hanshi 10. Dan.

He became the president of the International Federation of Okinawan Goju Ryu Karate and Kobudo, which still exists.

Among his important students were, resp. still are:
Choboku Takamine, Seiko Fukichi, Juei Tamaki, Seikichi Higa, Tomoshige Yohena, Goshin Ishimine, Choyu Kiyuna, Kanki Izumigawa, Eikichi Fukumoto, Seitoku Matayoshi, Eiki Kurashita, Yuzuru Oshiro, Seiki Gibo and other, but he also cooperated (mostly in kobudo) with:
– Kenko Nakaim – our Kobudo Ruei Ryu line
– Shimpo Matayoshi – other Kobudo line

His legacy, work, and students are immortal and it is an honor for us to be able to teach this Okinawan Goju Ryu line.

Direct students of Seiko Higa

More information in the section Our Okinawan teachers.