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Karate History (Naha-te)

Naha-te (那覇手Okinawan: Naafa-dii) is a pre-World War II term for a type of martial art indigenous to the area around Naha, the old commercial city of the Ryūkyū Kingdom and now the capital city of the island of Okinawa. Well into the 20th century, the martial arts of Okinawa were generally referred to as te, which is Japanese for "hand". Te often varied from one town to another, so to distinguish among the various types of te, the word was often prefaced with its area of origin; for example, Naha-te, Shuri-te, or Tomari-te.

Naha-te was primarily based on the Fujian White Crane systems of Southern China, which trickled into Okinawa in the early 19th century through Kumemura (Kuninda), the Chinese suburb of Naha, and continued developing and evolving until being finally formalized by Higaonna Kanryō in the 1880s.

In the first few decades of the 20th century, a number of formal organizations were founded to oversee Okinawan martial arts, and due to their influence, the word karate came to be widely accepted as a generic term for all sorts of Okinawan unarmed martial arts. With the popularity of the term karate, the practice of naming a type of martial art after its area of origin declined. The term Naha-te is no longer in general use.

Naha-Te is the name of the particular type of Okinawan martial art that developed in the port town of Naha, the modern day capital of Okinawa. The martial art that indigenously developed in Okinawa was called Te ("Hands"), and the continuous Chinese influences that incorporated Chinese Boxing (Chuan-Fa, nowadays known as Chinese boxing) were eventually reflected by naming the Okinawan martial arts Tang-ti "Chinese Hand".

Credited for the early development of Naha-Te is Kanryo Higaonna (1853-1915). Kanryo Higaonna students include Chojun Miyagi (1888-1953), the founder of Goju-ryu. Taken from the Bubishi meaning hard and soft and Kenwa Mabuni (1889-1952), the founder of Shito-ryu. Shito-ryu truly has no translation, but the first two ideograms from his teacher Itosu=糸, SHI and Higaonna = 東 ,TO, (糸東流). The founder of Goju-ryu was Chojun Miyagi (1888-1953). He became a disciple of Kanryo Higaonna (1853-1915), the founder of the Naha-te style, when he was 14. He endured harsh ascetic practices and in 1915 went to Fujian Province in China to perfect his skills in the martial arts. He also undertook a lot of research on noted Chinese warriors. As a result, he was able to take over and organize karate techniques and the principles of the martial arts that he had been taught. He consolidated modern karate do, incorporating effective elements of both athletics and the martial arts in addition to the principles of reason and science.

Chojun Miyagi's most promising disciple, Jinan Shinzato, gave a demonstration at the 'All Japan Martial Arts Tournament Offering Congratulations on the Emperor's Accession' held in Meiji Jingu Shrine in 1929. Afterwards he was asked what school of karate he belonged to. When he returned home, he told master Miyagi about this and Miyagi decided to choose the name Goju-ryu (the hard-soft style), inspired by one of the 'Eight Precepts' of Kempo, written in the Bubishi, and meaning 'The way embraces both hard and soft, both inhalation and exhalation. The main characteristic of Goju-ryu is the 'respiration method' accompanied by vocal exclamations, emphasizing 'inhaling and exhaling' and 'bringing force in and sending force out'.

The Kata of Goju-ryu are broadly divided into: Sanchin (basics), Kaishu-gata (open hand forms), and Heishu-gata (closed hand forms). The traditional Kata passed down from Kanryo Higaonna to the present include: Sanchin, Saifa, Seienchin, Shisochin, Sanseiru, Seipai, Kururunfa, Seisan, and Suparinpei (or Pecchurin). In addition to such traditional Kata, Goju-ryu has added Kokumin Fukyugata, a series of Kata created by Chojun Miyagi for the nationwide popularization of the school Gekisai I, Gekisai II and Tensho-which complete the Kata of Goju-ryu for Tanren.

Important Okinawan masters of Naha-te:Kogusuku Isei,Maezato Ranhō, Arakaki Seishō, Higaonna Kanryō, Miyagi Chōjun, Nakamiya Kenri, Kyoda Jūhatsu, Mabuni Kenwa, Gogen Yamaguchi

Important katas:Sanchin, Saifā, Seienchin, Shisōchin, Seipai, Seisan

The successor styles to Naha-te include Gōjū-ryū, Tōon-ryū (developed by the students of Higaonna Kanryō), Kogusuku-ryū, and others