| Higaonna Kanryo Sensei was born in Naha Okinawa on March 10th, 1853.
At the age of 16 he began to learn Chinese Kempo. He was a very good
student, and after a few years he became well known as a master
of martial arts.
In November 1847, at the of 22 he went to China, to
study Kempo. It took him about one year before he was introduced to
Master Ryu Ryuko, and for a long period of time he had to show his ability
before he was accepted as a student. He got a very hard training, and
became after several years of hard training Master Ryu Ryuko's most
skillful disciple. After 15 years of training he returned to Okinawa and
his name rapidly spread throughout Naha, he alse became Okinawa
King Sho Tai son's trainer.
In 1905 he started to teach at public high
school in Naha, and today he is honored as the founder of
After his research, Kanryo Higaonna, decided to make an important change in the Sanchin kata. Until then, Sanchin kata was practiced with open hands, so he started to teach it with closed hands and slower breathing with the purpose of promoting the health benefits, rather than promoting lethal techniques at the school. Kanryo Higaonna introduced the closed fist to emphasize the physical strength more than the ability to kill. Tradition also played an important roll for this change because he noticed that a lot of young Okinawans, without acknowledgement of martial arts, naturally stood with closed fists when they were going to fight. He continued to teach the original way that he learned in China to his few students at his dojo.
After 1905, karate became a little bit more accessible to the general population because until then Te was practiced just by a selected group of people. Kanryo Higaonna Sensei passed away in October, 1915 at the age of 62.