Important Dates in The History of Karate


In 1392, thirty-six families from the Fukien province of China, settled in Kume village on Okinawa. They brought with them fighting techniques from china, which they began to teach and blend with an unknown fighting system which already existed on Okinawa. An important note for Meibu-kan practitioners, Dai Sensei Yagi Meitoku has a direct ancestry link to one of the families, which came to Okinawa from China in 1392.

In 1477, after uniting the 3 kingdoms of Okinawa, King Shohashi introduced a ban of weapons on all people except the upper class and the peacekeepers of the time. Out of respect and admiration for King Shohashi, the people voluntarily put their weapons away. This increased the need for unarmed skills in protection. Kobudo also began to evolve at this time as people look for other ways to defend themselves.

In 1609, the Satsuma clan of Japan invaded and conquered Okinawa. In an attempt to prevent any uprising, the clan issued a sword hunt and banned all weapons and the practice of all martial arts. This forced practitioners to train in secrecy. They would train at night under the cover of darkness and in graveyards or secluded areas so they would not be seen.

1853: Master Kanryo Higaonna is born. Also known as Higashionna, he is the founder of Naha-te.

1868: The beginning of the Meiji restoration, karate no longer had to be practiced in secrecy. This restoration lasted up until 1912.

1888: Grand Master Chojun Miyagi, founder of Gojyu Ryu, is born

1900: Master Chojun Miyagi begins training with Ryuko Arakaki

1902: Master Funakoshi, Gichin promoted the first recorded karate demonstration on Okinawa for the school’s commissionaire on Kagoshima Prefecture.

1903: karate is introduced into the physical education program at the Men’s Normal School in Shuri.

1912: Dai Sensei Meitoku Yagi, successor of Master Chojun Miyagi is born.

1915: Master Higashionna passed away. Master Chojun Miyagi, his top student, is his successor of Naha-te.

1917: karate is demonstrated for the first time outside of Okinawa. Master Funakoshi, Gichin travelled to Kyoto, Japan to demonstrate his karate at the Dai Nippon Butokukai.

1924: Master Funakoshi, Gichin opens the first karate dojo in Japan. It wasn’t until 1936 that Funakoshi named his style Shoto-kan, meaning the house of Shoto, Funakoshi’s pen name when he signed his poetry.

1926: Dai Sensei Meitoku Yagi begins training with Master Chojun Miyagi.

1927: Jinan Shinzato travels to Japan to demonstrate Master Miyagi’s karate

1930: Master Miyagi, Chojun is the first master to assign a name, Gojyu-ryu, to his particular style of karate.

1936: the Butoku-kai, Japans oldest martial art organization, changed the kanji for KARA, meaning Chinese to , KARA, meaning empty.

1944: July 7 Meitatsu Yagi Sensei is born.

1945: Jinan Shinzato, Master Chojun Miyagi’s top student, dies in the early stages of the battle of Okinawa.

End of World War II: the U.S. administration in Japan declared an order to prohibit the practice of Judo and Kendo, giving Karate a lot of business. General Douglas McArthur also ordered the closure of the Butoku-kai because many of the great military minds of the Japanese armed forces had memberships to this institution and McArthur wanted to do away with any sort of militarism.

1946: Robert A. Trias opens the first American dojo in Phoenix, Arizona and becomes known as “The Father of American Karate”.

1949: January 1 Meitetsu Yagi Sensei is born.

1952: Dai Sensei Yagi Meitoku is giving permission by Master Chojun Miyagi to open a dojo in the Daido district of Naha. He was the first and only student of Master Miyagi that was given permission to do so.

1953: on October 8th, at the age of 53, Master Chojun Miyagi dies.

1956: Dai Sensei Meitoku Yagi founds the Okinawan Karate-do Gojyu-kai

1957: Dai Sensei Meitoku Yagi moves the dojo from the Daido district to the Kume district of Naha.

1957: Masami Tsurouka, “The Father of Canadian Karate”, opens a dojo in Toronto, Ontario and teaches Chito-Ryu Karate-do after studying under Dr. Tsuyoshi Chitose in Japan.

1960-1961: Meibukan Crest is incorporated.

1963: the family of Grand Master Chojun Miyagi officially appoints Meitoku Yagi, Dai Sensei as the direct successor of Okinawan Gojyu-ryu.

1974: Dai Sensei Yagi Meitoku creates Meibu-ken Kata Fu-kyu Kata Ichi and Fu-kyu Kata Ni. Later, after he joins them together as one kata, named Tenchi no Kata.

1985: Dai Sensei’s 73rd birthday and 60th year in the martial arts demonstration.

1985: Ken Tallack brings Meibu-kan Gojyu-ryu to Canada.

1986: International gathering of Gojyu-kail students to commemorate the 33rd anniversary of Grand Master Miyagi Chojun’s death

1986: The Japanese Government declared Dai Sensei Yagi Meitoku a “Living National Treasure”.

1987-1988: Dai Sensei Yagi Meitoku introduces Meibu-ken Kata Seiryu and Byakko.

1989: Meitatsu Yagi Sensei was elected president of the Okinawan Karate-Do Gojyu-Kai.

1990: Dai Sensei Yagi Meitoku introduces Meibu-ken kata Shujakku.

1990: International gathering of Gojyu-kai students to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Okinawan Karate-do Gojyu-kai

1991: Dai Sensei Yagi Meitoku introduces Meibu-ken kata Genbu.

1995: Okinawa Pre-World Tournament. Dai Sensei demonstrates along with his two sons, Master Yagi Meitatsu and Master Yagi Meitetsu

1996: Yagi Meitetsu Sensei is promoted to Hanshi 9th dan.

1997: Yagi Meitetsu Sensei is elected President of Okinawan Karate-Do Gojyu-Kai.

1997: Dai Sensei Yagi Meitoku is declared a Karate-Do Intangible Cultural Asset.

1997: – On August 8, Master Meitoku Yagi promotes his eldest son, Sensei Meitatsu Yagi, to Hanshi 10th Dan

1998: 110th anniversary of birth of Gojyu-ryu founder Master Miyagi Chojun

1999: Master Yagi Meitetsu is re-elected Gojyu-kai President

1999: Dai Sensei’s 88th birthday demonstration, Beijyu Tanjobi

1999: Master Yagi Meitatsu visits Canada

1999: Rengokai tournament on Okinawa. Dai Sensei and his two sons, Master Yagi Meitatsu and Master Yagi Meitetsu, demonstrate

2000: G8 Summit on Okinawa. Master Yagi Meitatsu on Karate/Kobudo committee to organize demonstration

2000: In August, Master Yagi Meitetsu visits Canada again.

2003: February 7 at 11:40 am, Dai Sensei Meitoku Yagi passed away. At the time of his passing he was considered as the most senior Karateka in the world.