The History of Goju Ryu Karate....
Kanryo Higaonna Sensei (1853-1917) was born in Okinawa and worked with his father as a trade merchant until his father’s death. At the age of 14, he began his training in Chinese kempo as a student under Seisho Arakaki Sensei. Approximately six years after he had begun his training, Higaonna Sensei left Okinawa and went to mainland China. There, he eventually was introduced to and trained under Ryu Ryu Ko. (Recent historical investigations have suggested that Ryu Ryu Ko was none other than Xie Zhongxiang founder of Whooping Crane gongfu.) Kanryo Higaonna Sensei continued his studies in China for another 15 years and became renown throughout the region as a master of martial arts. The strength of his legs was considered legendary; so much so that he was often referred to as “Legs Higaonna”. Upon his return back to Okinawa, Kanryo Higaonna Sensei picked up his job as a merchant and started privately teaching what he had learned of martial arts to select students. At this time, kempo in Okinawa was known as “Naha-te” and Kanryo Higaonna Sensei was considered a master. At the requests of his students, Kanryo Higaonna Sensei opened a school of karate which combined the hard and soft styles of kempo. Among his top students was Chojun Miyagi Sensei.
Chojun Miyagi Sensei (1888-1953) was born in Okinawa to a wealthy family whose business was trade. At age 11, he began his training in martial arts as a student of Ryuko Aragaki Sensei. Three years later at age 14, after learning what he could from Ryuko Aragaki Sensei, he was introduced to Kanryo Higaonna Sensei and became one of his best students. Chojun Miyagi Sensei studied for 15 more years with Higaonna Sensei until Higaonna Sensei’s death in 1917. During his training and several times after his teacher’s death, Miyagi Sensei had made several trips to China to further his education and understanding of martial arts. He too had been recognized as a master of martial arts and had accomplished numerous achievements throughout his lifetime. One of his greatest accomplishments is the standardization of teaching methods used to teach karate. In 1927 Chojun Miyagi Sensei named his style of martial arts “Goju-Ryu” meaning “Hard Soft Style”. He became an instructor of Goju-Ryu to the Okinawan police and taught his style to the students in the Municipal High School. With his help in 1933, Karate was officially recognized as a martial art in Japan and was registered by Dai Nippon Butoku Kai; an authoritative body responsible for sanctioning martial arts. This meant that Karate was recognized on the same level as the other well known and respected martial arts of Japan. Although Chojun Miyagi Sensei had taught many students during his time as a teacher, arguably his best student was Ei'ichi Miyazato.
Ei'ichi Miyazato Sensei (1922-1999) became a student of Chojun Miyagi at age 15, after two years of training under his father’s tutelage. Ei'ichi Miyazato studied for 15 years with Chojun Miyagi until Chojun Miyagi death in 1953. Ei'ichi Miyazato Sensei often helped Chojun Miyagi teach at his dojo, called the Garden Dojo. Also like Miyagi Sensei, he taught at the local high schools and succeeded Chojun Miyagi as instructor at the police academy. Upon the death of Miyagi Sensei, Ei'ichi Miyazato took over the responsibility of preserving and promoting the traditions of the karate system of his teacher. From 1953 to 1957, he continued to teach at the Garden Dojo. In 1957 he founded his own dojo known as the Jundo-kan which means “House for the Following in the Footsteps of the Father”. In 1969, in conjunction with other Goju-Ryu teachers, he established the Okinawa Goju-Ryu Karatedo Kyokai and was its first chairman. Ei'ichi Miyazato Sensei devoted his life to the teaching of Goju Karate and keeping alive the style of his teacher.
Sensei George Smith started his training in boxing at age 11. For 11 years he trained daily with his father. Around the mid 1960s, Smith Sensei incorporated martial arts into his training. His first teacher was Grand Master Pete Sirangano who taught Go Shin Do Kempo Karate. It was under Sirangano Sensei that he received his Yudansha. During this time he also studied Hakko Ryu Ju-Jitsu and Nisei GoJu. In1970, Sensei George Smith opened his school “The House of Karate”. In 1972, Smith Sensei began his training with Grand Master Joseph LaMonte in Goju-Ryu karate and with Ei'ichi Miyazato Sensei. Ei'ichi Miyazato Sensei had bestowed upon Smith Sensei the rank of 7th dan and the title of Kyoshi. In 1999, Ei'ichi Miyazato Sensei appointed Sensei George Smith the Chief Instructor for the New York City's five boroughs for Traditional Goju-Ryu Karate. In addition to being 7th dan, he was bestowed a 9th dan by Grand Master Joseph Lamonte in USA Goju Ryu. To date after four decades, Sensei George Smith continues to teach at the House of Karate and to carry on the traditions of the founder of Goju-Ryu.
The House of Karate (Est. 1970) was established by Sensei George Smith on April 1st, 1970 at 3978 Amboy Road in Staten Island. The school still resides at its same location after forty years of helping students learn Goju Karate. It is the only all traditional Okinawan Goju Karate dojo on Staten Island.