Grandmaster Chojun Miyagi was born on April 25, 1888 in an aristocratic family. His family was in the import/export business, and owned two ships which made regular trips to mainland China, placing them among the wealthiest families in the area.
He began training in karate under Kanryo Higaonna at the age of 14, in 1902. Like his teacher before him, because of his great natural talent and fierce determination, he progressed very rapidly. The training was severe beyond belief at times but he practiced ever harder with an enthusiasm unmatched by any of the other students. Chojun Miyagi became "uchi deshi" (private disciple) of Kanryo Higaonna. He studied with his teacher for 14 years before his teacher's death in 1915.
Chojun Miyagi, as successor to Naha-te pushed himself to the limits of endurance in his desire to emulate the extraordinary skill of his teacher. To this end, that same year (1915) he journeyed to Fuzhou, China, the city where his teacher had studied the martial arts, to further his research. This was one of three trips he made to China during his lifetime.
On his return to Okinawa he began to teach the martial arts at his home in Naha. Later, he also taught at the Okinawan Prefecture Police Training Centre, at the Okinawan Master's Training College, and at the Naha Commercial High School (where his teacher had once taught).
Chojun Miyagi worked hard to spread karate throughout Okinawa and mainland Japan, and to earn Naha-te a status equal to that of the highly respected Japanese martial arts of Judo and Kendo. To achieve this he traveled frequently to mainland Japan where he was invited to teach karate at Kyoto University and Ritsumei Kan University. In 1933 karate was registered at the Butokukai, the center for all martial arts in Japan. This was a milestone for karate as it meant that it was recognised on a level with the highly respected martial arts of Japan.
Chojun Miyagi dedicated his whole life to karate. He was responsible for structuring Naha-te (which he later named "Goju-Ryu") into a systematised discipline which could be taught to society in general. This teaching system that he formulated enabled karate to be taught in schools for the benefit of the young, and to reach vast numbers of people throughout the world. However, his private teaching at his home remained strictly in adherence to the principles of his teacher, Kanryo Higaonna, and his teacher before him, Ryu Ryu Ko.
Chojun Miyagi died on October 8th, 1953, of either a heart attack (the most popular explanation) or a cerebral haemorrhage at the age of 65.