Sensei Teruo Chinen is a figure in the history of karate who has earned the right to be called “master.” Slight of build but with powerful external and internal strength in his karate techniques, he is a living example of the virtues of goju-ryu karate training.
Born in Japan, Teruo Chinen’s Okinawan father died at the end of World War II. His mother then moved back to his native land of Okinawa, eventually settling in the village of Naha.
Teruo Chinen’s father and family were actually from the village of Shuri and were a family of martial artists that practiced what was then known as shuri-te. From his grandfather to his uncles, they all practiced Okinawa-te, as karate was called in those days.
Watch this exclusive video discussing the life of the karate techniques master and his place in the history of karate:
GOJU-RYU KARATE VIDEO
The Story of Karate Techniques Master Teruo Chinen
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In Naha, Teruo Chinen lived in his uncle’s house, which was only a few doors away from a pillar in the history of karate: master Chojun Miyagi. His uncle, as fate would have it, was a police officer and a student of Chogun Miyagi’s.
Teruo Chinen was immersed in karate from birth — and by this point he was living next door to the famous Chojun Miyagi sensei, as mentioned in the history-of-karate video above.
Thomas J. Nardi, Ph.D. wrote about the meeting of Teruo Chinen and Chojun Miyagi in a 1985 issue of Black Belt magazine:
The young Okinawan boy waked nervously to his neighbor’s house. His neighbor had always scared him; the man always had a stern, serious look about him. And the neighbor’s reputation in the martial arts was known throughout the community.
Slowly, with unsure steps, the youngster entered the neighbor’s backyard. Glancing about, his eyes suddenly met those of the stocky, powerfully built man. Instantly, the boy bowed respectfully.
“Good morning, master Miyagi,” he managed to say.
Thus marked the fateful meeting between Teruo Chinen and Chojun Miyagi, the founder of goju-ryu karate. It was to change Teruo Chinen’s life forever. It was the beginning of a journey of more than 30 years into the essence of goju-ryu, a journey that led Teruo Chinen to Japan, South Africa and finally Spokane, Washington, where he established a traditional dojo (training hall) to teach the original goju-ryu as taught by Chojun Miyagi.
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In 1952, the stern disciplinarian Chojun Miyagi allowed young Teruo Chinen to begin his training in karate techniques.
However, by that point, the elder karate techniques master was in failing health. In 1953, Chojun Miyagi passed away. His legacy was passed on to Eiichi Miyazato, with whom Teruo Chinen studied karate techniques for many years to come.
Teruo Chinen of goju-ryu karate is a man honored and deeply respected by his peers in martial arts and by all who come to know him and learn from him.
This text was adapted from the narration of the biographical section of the Teruo Chinen DVD series Okinawan Goju-Ryu Karate, with additional elements adapted from the June 1985 Black Belt magazine article “Learning Goju-Ryu Karate From the Source — Chojun Miyagi,” by Thomas J. Nardi, Ph.D.