Chojun Miyagi and the Introduction of the Kongo Ken to Goju Ryu Karate

Chojun Miyagi is one of the most important figures in the development of modern day karate do. Throughout his life he worked tirelessly to spread the empty hand art around Okinawa and mainland Japan. During this time he survived the Battle of Okinawa, not only physically but also emotionally after losing a son, his top student – Jin’an Shinzato – and numerous other friends and trainees in the fighting along with two daughters on a ship full of evacuees headed to Kyushu. Following the American invasion he also lost meticulous records that he had kept on the history of his art despite taking great efforts to keep them safe.

Miyagi received direct transmission of te (the original word used by Okinawans to describe, at least in part, what would later become known as karate) from his teacher Kanryo Higaonna who himself had learned his fighting style from the Chinese master Ryu Ryu Ko in Fujian province, China. Ryu Ryu Ko primarily taught the practice of the kata Sanchin along with various methods of body conditioning. These methods of training were elementary forms of weight training designed to stretch and strengthen the body and are known by practitioners of Goju ryu karate as hojo undo. Implements originally used in hojo undo include the nigiri game (gripping jars), the chi ishi (weighted stones placed at the end of a thick stick) and the sashi ishi (large stone weights).

Originally, the kongo ken was not used in hojo undo and the origins of the instrument lie neither in Okinawa or China, but rather on the opposite side of the Pacific Ocean, in Hawaii.

By 1926 Chojun Miyagi was well established as a reputable martial artist on Okinawa especially but also increasingly among mainland Japanese practitioners. In that year a former student of Miyagi’s, Chinyei Kinjo, the president of the Hawaiian-published newspaper Yoen Jihosha, invited Miyagi to Hawaii in the hope that his presence and training would help to improve the self-esteem of Okinawan immigrants living there who suffered from discrimination. The master left in April or May and stayed for almost a year.

It seems that Miyagi was very comfortable in Hawaii, which is itself very similar to Okinawa. He was welcomed with great respect and enthusiasm and was able to reach not only expat Okinawans but also Filipinos, Hawaiians and even some Westerners. One of the people he taught was the somewhat famous judo expert and pro-wrestler Okishikina. The latter introduced some of his Western wrestler friends to Miyagi with the result being one of the larger and apparently stronger pro-fighters squealing in pain after introducing himself and attempting to test Miyagi’s strength by squeezing his hand tightly…only to receive the same treatment at a later date when it had been explained to Miyagi that the wrestler was attempting to test his strength.

The upshot of the trip to Hawaii and exposure to Hawaiin wrestlers is that Chojun Miyagi returned with the training device that came to be known as the kongo ken. Whereas the Hawaiians had used a more rounded steel ring, Miyagi made it more elongated and closer in approximation to a human body. Nowadays the kongo ken is still used by those training with traditional hojo undo equipment.

Immobilienmakler Heidelberg

Makler Heidelberg

Source by Vincent Cooper

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