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Myagi Chojun 

Given that there is a great amount of detail on the life of Miyagi Chojun this article is necessarily brief.

Chojun Miyagi was born on April 25, 1888 in the Higashi Machi district of Naha. Orphaned at a young age he was adopted by a distant relative.His family was aristocratic and like many wealthy families in Naha made their fortune through trade. His family owned two large boats which transported tea and herbs to and from China.

It is believed that Miyagi began his study of Naha-Te in 1900 at the age of 11. He started his training with Ryuko Aragaki, who recognizing the talent of his young student, soon felt compelled to introduce him to the more famous Naha-Te Master Kanryo Higaonna.
This occurred in 1902 and at the time Miyagi was 14.

Eventually, and indenpendently wealthy, Miyagi would become Higaonna’s "uchi deshi" (or indoor disciple) and would financially support his teacher’s family throughout the rest of their lives. He studied with Higaonna until the formers death in 1915 (a total of 14 years).

By comparing what Higaonna’s most senior disciple Kiyoda Juhatsu (founder of To’on Ryu) also learnt, it is possible to determine what Miyagi was taught at this time: Sanchin, Seisan, Suparinpei and Sanseru kata, as well as the use of various traditional hojo undo training implements such as the Chishi, Ishi Sashi, Nigirigame, etc..

Like his teacher before him and in pursuit of more knowledge, Miyagi traveled to Fujian, China in 1915 with a Chinese friend known as Go ken ki. He stayed in China for two years in search of Higaonna’s Sempai Ryu Ryu Ko. Unable to find him he studied other martial arts from Fujian province. It is probably on this trip that Miyagi learnt or compiled the other kata which would form his system, including: Seipai, Sieunchin, Saifa and Kururunfa. It is not certain what style he trained in but forms bearing the same names exist in a variety of Fujian based systems including: Five Ancestors (Ngo Cho Kune), Southern Emperor Fist (Tai Cho Kune) and White Crane (Bak Hak Kune).

About this trip Miyagi would later say in 1936: “I went to China knowing that it was there that I had to go for more advanced Kung-Fu training.” (Miyagi Chojun, 1936). On his return to Okinawa in 1917 he began to systematize and teach his martial art and his fame grew.

Here is a brief outline of the rest of his life:

  • In 1921 he was chosen to demonstrate Naha-Te in front of the Crown Prince Hirohito

  • In 1925 he repeated this performance in front of Prince Chichibu.

  • In 1926 he was one of the founding member of the Karate Kenkyukai or Karate Research Club along with other notable Masters such as Kiyoda Juhatsu (To’on Ryu) and Mabuni Kenwa (Shito-Ryu). Inthis research club he would modernize many of Karate’s training methods, invent jobi undo exercises, and experiment with such things as boxing equipment and jiyu kumite.

  • He was also one of the Masters present when this club met in 1936 and decided to change the characters for the name Karate from To-Te, or China hand, to Karate, or empty hand, which did much to popularize Karate as a Japanese martial art.

  • In 1930 he was invited by Jigoro Kano to give demonstrations in Japan at the Butokukai.

  • In1932 he was again invited by Jigoro Kano but could not make it. Instead he sent his senior student Shinzato Jin'an to replace him.

  • When Shinzato was asked what style of Karate he practiced, he was embarrassed because he only new his art under the name of Naha-Te and so decided to call it Hanku Ryu (meaning half hard style). On his

return he told Miyagi about his indiscretion and Miyagi decided that the style should be called Goju Ryu (hard soft style) instead. This name was taken directly from the third verse in The Eight Poems of the Fist found in the famous martial arts manual the Bubishi.

  • In 1932 he was teaching at: Kansai University, the Prefectural Men’s Teachers College and, like his teacher before him, at the Naha Commercial High School.

  • In 1933 the name of Goju Ryu was officially registered as a form of Japanese Budo by the Butokukai. At this time the Butokukai was the regulating body of all the different Martial Arts of Japan. In 1933 he wrote his "An Outline of Karate-Do," and was awarded the rank of Kyoshi 8th Dan by the Butokukai. He was also appointed as head of the Okinawan branch of that organization.

  • In 1934 Miyagi was invited to travel to Hawaii to demonstrate and teach Karate to the Okinawans living there. During this trip he would discover the Kongoken (large iron circle) and bring it back to Okinawa as a training implement for his style.

  • In 1936 he was also teaching at the Ritsumeikan University. Also in 1936, he traveled to Shanghai for six weeks to demonstrate Karate and exchange with other martial artist at the Jing Woo AthleticAssociation (originally founded by Hua Yin Jia).

  • Much has been said about this trip to Shanghai and its possible influences on Goju Ryu. However, we caution the reader of making too much of this trip, since he was only in Shanghai for six weeks andhad an extremely busy calendar of demonstrations and lectures. No one regardless of talent can pick up an external martial art, let alone a highly complex internal martial art such as Taiji, Baqua or Hsing-I, in only six weeks.

  • In 1940, along with Soshin Nagamine Sensei (Matsubayashi Shorin-Ryu), he created the kata Gekisai Dai Ichi and Gekisai Dai Ni to be used in the Okinawa school system.

  • In 1940, along with Soshin Nagamine Sensei (Matsubayashi Shorin-Ryu), he created the kata Gekisai Dai Ichi and Gekisai Dai Ni to be used in the Okinawa school system.

  • 1939-1945: During the war he lost his senior student Jinan Shinzato and three of his children.

  • In 1944 he lost all of his Karate records when his house was bombed in the air raid on Naha.

  • In 1946, he was appointed the physical education officer of the Ryukyu Citizens’ Government.

During the post-war period Miyagi was teaching several private disciples in his back yard. This Dojo would later be known as the "Garden Dojo."

At this time Miyagi Chojun’s Goju Ryu consisted of the following elements:

-Sanchin (Aragaki)
-Seisan (Aragaki)
-Suparinpei (Aragaki)
-Shisochin (Aragaki ????)
-Saifa (Miyagi)
-Seipai (Miyagi)
-Sieunchin (Miyagi)
-Kururunfa (Miyagi)
-Tensho (Miyagi)
-Gekisai Dai ichi (Miyagi + Nagamine)
-Gekisai Dai Ni (Miyagi + Nagamine)
-Naihanchi kata (Traditional Tomari-Te)
-HojoUndo exercises
-Yobi Undo exercises

  • In 1953 and like his teacher before him, he was appointed the Karate teacher for the Ryukyu Police Academy.

  • In October 1953, Miyagi Sensei died at the age of 65 from a cerebral hemorrhage while he was still teaching at the Police Academy. Having survived through the tumultuous years and the occupation of Okinawa probably explains his early demise.

Legendary Prowess:

Miyagi Chojun like Wai Xianxian before him was known for his supernatural gripping power. He was known to be able to rip chunks of meat off a hind of beef using his Nukite (hand spear).

A journalist (Tokuda Anshu) wrote of one of Miyagi’s demonstrations: “Miyagi thrust his hand into a bunch of bamboo and pulled out one
from the center. He stuck his hand into a slab of meat and tore out chunks. He put white chalk on the bottom of his feet, jumped up, and kicked the ceiling—leaving footprints on the ceiling for all to see. Spectators hit him with long staffs to no effect. With his fingers, he tore off the bark of a tree and with his big toe, he punctured a hole in a kerosene can. And he did many more feats which had to be seen to be believed.” (Quoted in Richard Kim, The Classical Man (Masters Publication, 1995).

Over the years Miyagi had several public and private students. The most famous would include: Shinzato Jinan (1901-1945) Yagi Meitoku (Meibukan) (1912-2003), Higa Seiko (1889-1966) (Shobukan), Toguchi Seikichi (1917-1998) (Shoreikan) and Miyazato Ei'ichi (1922-1999) (Jundokan).

Higa Seiko Sensei 
(November 8, 1898-April 16, 1966)

Higa Seiko was born in Naha Okinawa on November 8, 1898; he began his training at the age of 13 under Higaonaa Kanryo and remained his student until his death in 1917. Following his teacher's death, Higa continued his training under Miyagi Chojun of Goju-Ryu Karate, who was one of Higaonna's top students; and remained under Miyagi until his death in 1953. After the death of Miyagi Chojun, Higa supposedly assumed leadership as the presume head of the style. However most of Miyagi's top students all went their own way and went on to established dojos and organizations of their own never giving recognition to Higa Seiko.

Many feel that Higa should be known as the successor to Miyagi Chojun's Goju- Ryu since he was the only one who was teaching Goju-Ryu while Miyagi was alive and since he also trained with Miyagi's teacher Higaonna Kanryo. There has been some controversy surrounding Higa's relationship with Grandmaster Miyagi some say that Miyagi was unhappy with the way Higa was teaching Goju- Ryu and expelled him from the dojo, but as a matter of fact in a document published in 1952, in an Okinawan newspaper Miyagi listed the senior's members of his group and their titles and only Higa Seiko was listed as "Headmaster".

Higa Seiko was a very educated man and was employed as an elementary school teacher. He resigned after one year and then went on to have a lengthy career as a policeman. After ten years as a policeman Higa resigned and dedicated himself to Karate.

Higa opened his first dojo in 1931. In 1937 he moved to Saipan and opened another dojo, staying for two years. Upon his return to Okinawa he started teaching again and eventually opened a dojo in Itoman-cho, he went on to teach at various places such as the high school Karate club and at the University. In May of 1956 at Nagamine Shosin?s dojo (founder of Matsubayashi Ryu) nineteen Karate teachers got together and established the Okinawa Karate-do Federation, Higa became Vice-chairman and four years later he became Chairman.

Higa Seiko Dojo was very popular, other master often visit and even trained there.

Higa Seiko was the closest disciple of Master Miyagi Chojun. He attained the Truth of Goju-Ryu karate, and he tried to preserve it. He was mild-mannered and gentle. He was free and flexible. He was a genius of Karate-do.

Hokama Tetsuhiro Hanshi 

Although not as well known in the United States compared to other Okinawan Goju-Ryu teachers, Hanshi Hokama is one of the most knowledgeable Goju-Ryu Karate masters. He has a deep understanding of the "Old Ways" of Karate.

Born in Taiwan in 1944 of Okinawan parents. Hanshi Hokama began Karate as a child in 1952. His grandfather Seiken Tokuyama taught him the fundamentals of Shuri-te Karate. In 1961 his formal training began at the Naha Commercial High School Karate club. That same year he began training with the legendary Seiko Higa (1898 - 1966) a student of Kanryo Higaonna (1853 - 1915) and Chojun Miyagi (1888 - 1953). It was at Higa's Dojo where he met Shinpo Matayoshi (1922 - 1997 Kobudo teacher) and began learning Kobudo, and Kingai-Ryu (a martial art that his father, Shinko Matayoshi 1888 - 1947 learned in Manchuria).

Upon the death of Seiko Higa in 1966 Hanshi Hokama continued his training with one of Higa's top student Seiko Fukuchi (1919 - 1975) who was Seiko Higa's assistant instructor. It was both of these great masters that taught Hokama the Kakushite (hidden hand) referring to the secret techniques in Kata. A young Tetsuhiro Hokama was not convinced with the bunkai (Kata breakdown) he was first being taught, he kept asking questions and even doubting the Kata applications. They saw the young Hokama eagerness to learn that they began to teach him the "Old Ways". Higa eventually gave a copy of the Bubishi, an ancient martial arts text and told him to study it deeply.

His Goju-Ryu karate is of a quality that can amaze even the most experienced karate practitioners. His speed and power is inspiring and his knowledge of vital points is vast. He is a researcher of the history of the indigenous Okinawa art of self-preservation known today as Karate and Kobudo. Hanshi Tetsuhiro Hokama is truly a master of the "Old Ways".

In a typical training session at his Dojo you will see a very complete system of Goju-Ryu Karate being taught. Tuidi-jutsu (grab hand art), Kyusho-jutsu (vital point's art) and Kobudo are a part of the daily regimen.

The Kenshi-kai organization has perhaps the oldest Goju-Ryu kata and the most complete curriculum in existence today.

Hokama Sensei has appeared in the Learning Channel documentary "Top Ten Martial Arts". He has been featured in many foreign magazines - proof of a very good international reputation.

Hanshi Luis Morales

Sensei Luis Morales was born in 1958.  As a child he was fascinated with the Martial Arts, spending many hours reading the various Martial Arts publications such as Black Belt Magazine and Karate Illustrated.

His first real exposure to the Martial Arts came when he was only 8 years old.  A family friend introduced him to a Ju-jutsu style called Miyama-Ryu.  Not knowing that this was the path that The Most High has chosen for him, at the age of 12 years old, he began his formal training in Bu-jutsu.

Sensei Morales has dedicated his life to the study of Okinawan Goju-Ryu Karate-jutsu, and due to his relentless pursuit has a profound knowledge of its Kata and its Bunkai (Applications). 

He is highly regarded for his advanced abilities in the ways of Martial Science, Tuidi-jutsu (Grab Hand Art) and Kyusho-jutsu (Vital/Pressure points Point Art) that are Sub Arts of Karate.

Sensei Luis Morales is a professional Karate teacher, who has trained with the world's leading Goju-Ryu's masters; to name a few, he was a senior student of Master Teruo Chinen, Chief Instructor of Jundokan International, and also a student of Grandmaster Eiichi Miyazato 10th Dan, founder of the Jundokan Dojo and student of the founder of Goju-Ryu, Grandmaster Chojun Miyagi.

Sensei Morales quest for knowledge kept him searching for other Goju-Ryu teachers.  It was then he met the head master of International Kenshi-kai Organization Hanshi Tetsuhiro Hokama 10th Dan in Okinawan Goju-Ryu and Kobu-jutsu. Sensei Morales feels very fortunate to be under the tutelage of Grandmaster Hokama. He is truly a master of  "The Old Ways" Sensei Morales has done seminars along side with Muro o many Martial Arts great such as Soke LilJohn Davis of Kumite-ryu jujutsu, Professor James Muro of Hawaiian Kenpo and Danzan-ryu jujutsu, Grandmaster Bill McCloud of Urban contemporary jujutsu, and Senor Master Rudy Tuiolosega of Limalama.  His hands on approach make his seminar very popular and sought after.

    Sensei Luis Morales holds: 

  • North America Chief Instructor for Kenshi-kai Goju-Ryu
  • 10th Dan Hanshi in Okinawa Goju-Ryu Karate and Kobu-jutsu.  
  • The highest Ranking Torite Jutsu Instructor in the Northeastern United States.
  • Certified Master Torite-jutsu 7th Dan, under Grandmaster Tom Muncy 10thDan and Grandmaster Rick Moneymaker 9th Dan founders of the             Dragon Society International, leaders in teaching Kyusho-jutsu and Martial Science. 
  • Kaicho of The Bugaku Renmei (Martial Science Federation).
  • Author of The Sub-Arts Guidebook.
  • Karate Advisor to usadojo.com. 

Living by his motto "Always a student" Sensei Morales continues to learn and research the Martial Ways; and he is currently training in other Budo Arts.