A leading nineteenth century Karate master, combined the techniques of Naha-te and the teachings of Shuri-te plus added different moves from the Chinese art, Shao Lin Chuan to create a new art. He was regarded as the highest authority and foremost masters of Naha-Te as well as Okinawan Karate and regarded as one of the most influential Karate instructors in Okinawan history. Higashionna was a student of Ryu Ryu Ko.
In 1866, at the age of 15 or 16 he sailed from Okinawa to further his studies abroad in Fuzchou China in the arts of Chinese Kempo with Sifu Liu Liu Gung and remained there for 10 to 15 years. It is believed that Higashionna Sensei studied the styles of Hung Gar-Shaolin Chuan, hard style Chinese martial arts of Chi-Chi and/or I-Chi with another Chinese master only known as ‘Woo’.
He returned to Okinawa during the middle of the Meiji era (1868- 1911) and introduced many new effective hand and kicking techniques, distinguished from other styles by its integration of Go- no (hard) and Ju-no (soft) Kempo into one system. His fame as a martial artist quickly spread and the Okinawans soon realized that the martial art of Higaonna Sensei exceeded anything they’ve seen before. Higashionna Sensei opened his house as a dojo and continued to teach until his death in 1915 in Naha Okinawa.
Much credit is given to Kanryo Higashionna for the development of Okinawan Karate-do and today he is honored as the founder. Arguably, however, it was through Miyagi Chojun, the founder of Goju Ryu, that Higashionna’s name and efforts became so entrenched in the history of modern Karate-do. Chojun Miyagi became one of Kanryo Higashionna’s greatest disciples and he succeeded him after his death at 63 in 1915.