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Kanryo Higaonna Shihan Biography

Kanryo Higaonna was born in Naha, Okinawa in 1853, he was one of eight children. Many of his brothers and sisters died at an early age. His father made his living trading from trading firewood between various islands, he owned three small Okinawan sailboats. Kanryo Sensei helped his father from the age of ten, the hard work made him very strong, by the time he was fourteen he was wearing the topknot (a sign of manhood in Okinawa).

At about this time it is thought that he was already practicing the martial arts. At the same time something happened which would change his life, his father was killed in a violent fight. Overcome with grief and a desire to avenge his fathers death, Kanryo Sensei set off for China to study the martial arts that he had heard so much about.

He studied the Chinese martial arts from Master Ryu Ryu Ko in Fuchow. After five or six years of diligent training he became Ryu Ryu Ko's top student. It is believed that he learned all the Kata we practice today, with the exception of Gekisai Dai Ichi and Ni and a revised Sanchin and Tensho, he also studied Chinese weapons and herbal medicine.

On his return to Okinawa he continued with his own training but did not teach. He carried on with the same work as his father, trading between the small islands. After some time he was persuaded to start teaching martial arts and by 1905 he had introduced Karate into Naha commercial high school.