Chinto's Cave

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There seems to be a common misconception in the west about Chinto.  At first I believed the stories about him being a pirate and living in a cave and what not too, but when I started researching this matter it really started falling apart very quickly.  So this is summary of what I found out about the event itself and the cave that is attributed to Chinto.

So first thing first, let's look at "Chinto's Cave".  This is really important so please make sure to note this, but infront of the cave is a marker stone.  The kanji on this stone says "地頭火神", which translates to "Temple of the Fire God".  Wait, Chinto wasn't a fire God!  Right... he wasn't, and he didn't live in this cave either.  This cave is called Furuferin Dokutsu (フルフェーリン洞窟), and is believed to be the home of the Hinukan (の神), who is the God of the Hearth in the original Okinawan religion called Tenpi.

The cave itself is very shallow, and inside there is a shrine to the fire god.  I asked several Okinawan people who were in the area what they knew about the cave and I got the same response from every one of them, that is the cave of the Hearth God.  Saying it's the cave of Chinto is just karate business to bring tourists to the area, but the cave itself is significant to the Okinawan people, just not how karate salesmen want you to think it is.

Ok now onto Chinto himself.  There are 4 sources that were used to put this information together, since not all of them told the full story.  Three of these sources are from the Ryukyu Shimpo from 1899, 1904, and 1914.  The fourth was a side note in the koseki of the Teruya family.

There is a string of events that you also need to be aware of and it explains why this individual was treated the way he was.  First is what is called the "Mudan Incident".  The Mudan Incident occurred in 1871, when 54 shipwrecked Ryukyuan sailors crashed on Taiwan.  Forty-two of these sailors were murdered by the aboriginal people of Taiwan, and the remaining 12 were rescued by some Han Chinese and were transferred to Miyako (宮古島) and handed over to the Japanese Navy who got their story then returned them home.  This story of the murder of 42 Ryukyuan sailors was not taken lightly and in 1874 the Japanese Navy retaliated against Taiwan.

So now that you have some of the background, let's look at 1872.  In late spring of 1872 a man washed ashore near Onna Village Okinawa.  He spoke a strange dialect of Chinese that the residents of Onna couldn't figure out, so they suspected he was from Taiwan, and because of this the Pechin in the area arrested him and took him to the Tomari area to try to find a translator who could communicate with the man.  The Pechin Matsumora Kosaku ultimately took charge of the man and found a translator.  The dialect he spoke in was Minh Chinese, which was a bit different from what most of the local people were used to hearing.  During the questioning of the man, it was discovered that his name was Mr. Lao (no first name is ever mentioned in any of the sources), he was a sailor from a merchant ship that was headed to Korea and a typhoon got them off course.  He was from Nan'an (南安市 /map) in the southern Fujian Province.  Shortly after this the local Pechin released the man and told him he could go home.  Mr. Lao was staying with the Teruya family in Tomari awaiting transportation, and began teaching a style of Nanquan that he knew to make money so he could pay for quicker accommodations to go home, he was only on Okinawa for a few months.

So what did this man teach?  Luckily for us in a 1904 interview with Asato Anko he covered who learned what from Mr. Lao or the man from Fukushu Annan (which is Uchinaguchi for Fujian Nan'an).  The material listed is:  Gusukuma and Kanashiro learned Chinto kata.  Matsumora and Yamada learned Chinte kata.  Yamada (Geiki) learned Ji'in kata.  Nakazato learned Jitte kata.

In summary, the common story about Chinto being in a cave and whatnot is actually somewhat linked to old Okinawan folklore (not related to this event).  It seems that over the years with the telling and retelling of this story elements and different people kept coming into play which actually had nothing to do with this event.  I am very sorry to let everyone down with this, but from what I can tell this is the truth of the event.  There was no cave (the cave is attributed to the Okinawan Hearth God), there was no plundering of a village (he stayed with a local family who took care of him), he didn't teach a massive list of kata, and he wasn't a monk.  The true part of the story is he was arrested for possibly being a pirate associated with the Taiwanese who executed 42 Ryukyuan (Okinawan) sailors the previous year, once it was sorted out he was released.

Gambatte Kudasai,
Scot

Product Review: Dreametal Sai

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When most people think of sai, the first thought that goes through their head is usually of the Shureido sai.  So since they have been a long established company, for this review I am using a set of medium Shureido stainless steel sai as the "control sai".  I am comparing the Dreametal stainless steel sai with blue handle wrap, it is a medium size, and both the control sai and the Dreametal sai come in at exactly the same length at 18.5 inches.  For the purpose of this article we will call the Shureido sai the control sai, and the Dreametal sai the test sai.

Test 1: Weight
For this test, I used grams as the weight measurement.  The control sai weighed 724g and the Dreametal sai weighed 660g.  So without a doubt the test sai weigh less than the control sai.

Test 2: Shape
When putting the moto (center of the sai / weld point) together, the test sai are more narrow than the control sai.  The control sai are exactly 2 inches from the yoko (side wing) to the monouchi (middle shaft).  The test sai measured out as 2 inches on one side of the yoko to monouchi and 1.85 inches on the opposite side taking the same measurement.  Below is a sample of how I am doing this measurement.
Control Sai 2"    -    Test Sai 2"    -    Test Sai 1.85"

For the sake of being thorough both sai in the test sai pair had the same 2" and 1.85" measurements, this is likely due to the jig being slightly off.

Test 3: Manufacturing
The first major noticeable difference is that the control sai has the octagon shape following a consistent pattern down to the moto (center) and rounding just before going to the yoko (wings/sides).  The test sai octagon shape disappears into a round base approximately 1" before reaching the moto.  The yoko are also completely rounded off coming off of the moto.  The moto between both sai are significantly different in size, with the test sai being roughly 30% larger.

The second difference is in the handle wrap.  The control sai is very smooth, and just feeling the sai move in your hand you are unable to feel a center string on how the handle is wrapped.  The test sai appears to use a slightly larger wrapping.  You can physically feel the center string on the test sai.

Regarding the center strings, the control sai has a center string that follows along the edge of the sai and is directly under the yoko, the string is somewhat smaller and completely unnoticeable on the wrap.  The test sai has the string going in the center of the handle directly under the moto.  This can be seen when you enlarge the handle photo above.

Test 4: Feel

The feel test sadly doesn't have any photos.  It is just how the sai feel in your hand and how they move.  The difference in the measurements on the yoko is not really noticeable when the test sai are in your hand.  Flipping the sai out from the inner position to the outer position feels natural, it doesn't seem to catch anywhere.  However when putting the sai together (like bringing them to your side when completing a kata) the differences in the yoko make the sai feel slightly off.  I flipped one of the sai over and it felt better (again likely an issue with the jig).  Movement and postures all feel good on the test sai other than when putting them together if one is backwards.

Test 5: Hitting Stuff

For the purpose of this test, I am striking the edge of my workbench with the sai.  My work bench is typical wood with a marbleized top.
During the hit test, both sai felt roughly the same.  There was no noticeable bending or major dents.  It should be noted that looking at the sai from the side there is a major difference on the thickness of the monouchi (center shaft) with the control sai being thicker.

One thing of note is that the test sai do not make the same type of sound as the control sai, or even a third set of sai from weaponsconnection.com.  The sound of the test sai is somewhat flat, not that it really matters, just notable because it's different.  Video below.

~ Final Thoughts ~
With Shureido stopping the sale of their sai it's been tough to figure out where to go for an acceptable level product that you can really recommend to students and friends without feeling bad or like they were ripped off.  In Okinawa the Shureido stainless steel sai were running for roughly $250 USD before sales stopped.  Their Iron sai (black) were roughly $100 USD.  These were great sai for their price.  The stainless steel Dreametal sai is not a bad set of sai, however with the price tag being close to $180 USD (this is for the Octagon Stainless Steel sai with blue handle wrap) it is difficult to recommend these as a Shureido level replacement.  They would be good for competition or other events where a lighter set of sai would be useful, however for daily abuse (sai against other weapons) this might not be the set of sai for everyone.  Overall I would give these sai a solid 8 out of 10 stars.

With this being said, this is just one person's assessment, maybe these are exactly what you are looking for, so before buying or not buying I would recommend trying out a set and seeing how they do for you.

All the best in your training, any comments on this assessment are welcome and you can reach me via the contact form on ryuho.jp.

Gambatte Kudasai!
Scot

The Kijimuna and The Poor Boy

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Once, long ago, there were two young boys who were friends.  One was from a rich family and the other was from a poor family.  The poor boy secretly envied the rich boy, but the rich boy would sometimes bully and humiliate the poor boy.  One time while visiting his friend, the poor boy became annoyed with his rich friend and ran into the mountains to hide.

While hiding in the mountains the boy fell asleep under a tree.  After a little while the boy heard "Haisai, haisai!".  As the boy woke he saw a kijimuna standing over him saying "haisai".  The boy responded "Haisai", and the kijimuna asked "Why are you hiding in the mountains?"  The boy replied that he was very poor and his friend was very rich and he was hiding because their families were too different.  The kijimuna said to the boy "If you become my friend, I can make you very rich."  The boy responded "If you can make my family rich I will be your friend forever."  The kijimuna then said, "If you disappoint me, I will leave and your family will be poor again, do you understand?".  The boy happy at the thought of being rich promised the kijimuna that he understood and he would never disappoint him.  With that the kijimuna said he would see the boy the following day.

The following day the kijimuna showed up at the boy's house as promised.  The two of them went to a nearby bridge and went fishing.  The kijimuna caught many fish.  He took out the eyes from the fish and gave them all to the boy.  The boy asked "Why are you giving me the fish?", and the kijimuna responded "Take these fish and sell them, you will be rich before you know it."  The kijimuna vanished and the boy took the fish to his village and sold all of the fish.  This same thing happened for many months.  Eventually the poor boy sold so many fish his family became richer than everyone else in the town.

Then one day the boy said to himself, "Today I won't go with the kijimuna, I will go see my friend."  So the boy visited his old friend.  The kijimuna came to the boy's house and couldn't find him anywhere, and he thought to himself "I have been deceived by humans many times, the boy has broken his promise."

The boy had fun with his friend, and at the end of the visit he thought, "I had a great day even though I did the kijimuna wrong.  Everything will be ok though, we are already very rich."  The boy went home and went to sleep.  When the boy woke up all of the money was gone, as was everything he ever bought with the money.  The boy never saw the kijimuna again.

From Uchinaguchi Folktakes: Okinawa's Old Folktale Book, by Massaki Nagata (2005)
「うちなー口」で語り聞かせるふる里の民話―沖縄の昔話 単行本 - 長田 昌明
Translated by Scot Mertz

Miyazato Eiichi's last interview

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This interview has been out for a few years but, with everything that is happening in the Gojuryu world right now, I think it is important to not forget the words of Miyazato during his last interview.  Please use this to put current events into perspective.
The Interview
On Saturday, December 11, 1999 Eiichi Miyazato passed away in Okinawa, Japan. Miyazato Sensei was one of the greatest Goju-Ryu masters that trained directly with founder, Chojun Miyagi. Many masters who have come to the United States have told stories about the history of Goju-Ryu and their training background. Even though Eiichi Miyazato has passed away his memory will live for a long time. The students who trained under his organization remember him as a person who would tell it like it was. Miyazato Sensei has never sought the Martial Arts limelight and wanted to be famous. Many people who sought his training were seeking out information on Goju-Ryu history and trying to understand information that was being told to Goju-Ryu Karate-ka in the United States. What we found out was that Miyazato’s version was quitedifferent than what we were told.
Who were the senior students of Chojun Miyagi?
Throughout the history of Okinawan Goju-Ryu Karate it is well documented who were Chojun Miyagi’s top students at the time of his death in 1953. There have been many articles in magazines and books about Goju-Ryu Karate history from students of Chojun Miyagi’s students and other top masters. In 1953 the following names are loud and clear to all of us who were senior students of Miyagi Sensei.
  • They were Seiko Higa (age 55)-1898-1966,
  • Meitoku Yagi (age 41),
  • Eiichi Miyazato (age 30)-1921-1999,
  • Koshin Iha (age 28)-1925,
  • Seikichi Toguchi (age 37)-1917-1999.
It is important to understand how old they were at the time of Miyagi Sensei’s death. This will help you to understand who were senior and their relationship with Chojun Miyagi. There have been many numerous attempts to re-write history about whom was Chojun Miyagi’s successor and who were his senior students. There has been a Goju-Ryu instructor stating that he trained directly with Chojun Miyagi who didn’t. Several of these masters thathave circulated these rumor were former students of Eiichi Miyazato.
Mark Bishop’s book, “Okinawan Karate”.
There is an excellent book, called “Okinawan Karate”. This book includes all styles of Okinawan Karate and many top masters of each Ryu-ha. Mr. Mark Bishop wrote the book in 1989. Mr. Bishop spent ten years of research and interviewed many of the masters included in the book. Mark Bishop was a former student of Goju-Ryu master Morio Higaonna. Mr. Bishop has written several excellent articles for Fighting Arts magazine (see No. 82). This is an article of his memories of the Jundokan and his master instructor, Eiichi Miyazato. He highlights his training at the Yoyogi dojo in Tokyo and that his teacher Morio Higaonna introduces him to his teacher in Okinawa Hanshi Eiichi Miyazato at the Jundokan headquarters. In Bishop’s book “Okinawan Karate” he states about Miyazato Hanshi; “At present, Miyazato has about approximately 500 students and claims that over the years since 1953 he has trained more than 12,000 Karate-ka. Among his notables is the dynamic Morio Higaonna who used to run a small but much respected dojo in a dingy part of Yoyogi in Tokyo, but now teaches at his new dojo in Tsuboya, Naha, Okinawa. I trained for a year at the Yoyogi dojo and it was on Higaonna’s introduction that I originally journeyed to Okinawa and enrolled at Miyazato’s Jundokan where I remained for five years.” Mr. Bishop’s book is quite accurate aboutGoju-Ryu Karate history.
Morio Higaonna’s Version:
Many United States students who were a part of his organization could not understand Morio Higaonna’s version of who was the successor to Chojun Miyagi and who was his real teacher. Higaonna has always stated that Aniichi Miyagi (no relation to the founder Chojun Miyagi)was his teacher and successor to Chojun Miyagi.

 In an interview in Fighting Arts magazine No. 88, Mr. Higaonna was asked who do you think is the successor to Chojun Miyagi. Higaonna’s answer was “My honest opinion about this- and if I’m wrong I’m ready to change it- is that the successor to Chojun Miyagi is Aniichi Miyagi. Higaonna also states that Aniichi Miyagi trained under Chojun Miyagi for only two-five years. At the time of Chojun Miyagi’s death Aniichi Miyagiwas only 22 years old.

 Another interesting discovery was that Morio Higaonna has never received a Dan grade from his teacher, Aniichi Miyagi. All Goju-Ryu Dan grades were received from Eiichi Miyazato (see 7th Dan last Goju- Ryu grading). Morio Higaonna’s 8th and 9th Dan grades were from Yuchoku Higa, a Shorin-Ryu instructor whom Higaonna never trained under Grandmaster Eiichi Miyazato.

 Miyazato began training under Chojun Miyagi in 1935 at the age of 13. Miyazato was also very active in Judo and was the All Okinawan Judo Champion. Miyazato Shihan was former President of the Okinawan Judo Federation. He was on the board of directors of the Al Japan Karate Do Goju-Kai. Miyazato is a 10th Dan/Hanshi and is headmaster of the largest Goju-Ryu Karate dojo (Jundokan) in Okinawa. In 1954 the training resumed in the “Chojun Miyagi garden dojo”. In 1955 a general meeting was held and it was announced that Eiichi Miyazato would be the successor to Chojun Miyagi (See letter from Koshin Iha to Chuck Merriman). Eiichi Miyazaki because of his vast knowledge of Goju-Ryu Karate and many years training with Chojun Miyagi formed the Jundokan and dedicate his life to promote Okinawan Goju-Ryu Karate-do. The Jundokan is a loosely structured organization and is not motivated as a money making proposition. Miyazato Sensei feels that based on Chojun Miyagi’s philosophy a person should not make money from Karate. Miyazato believes that a person should take care of his family, job, and then Karate. The Jundokan classes are very informal. Anyone can come in and work out on their own time. Many students learn kata or train in small groups based on their work schedules. They are free to train as long as they want at the dojo. Miyazato Sensei has some of the top students all over the world. They include Koshin Iha (10th Dan), Ted Yasuda (10th Dan), Chuck Merriman (8th Dan),Teruo Chinan (7th Dan), and Morio Higaonna (7th Dan).

 Miyazato has no motive to hurt anyone or their organization. But his story must be told. In the United States we have heard the stories of several of Miyazato’s former students but Hanshi Miayazato has never been able to tell his side of the story. Miyazato told this writer that many people come to Okinawa asking me the same questions over and over again. I hope that this article will help people understand the true story. So fasten your seatbelts. This is the final interview with Grandmaster Eiichi Miyazato.
1. What is your feeling about tournament karate & cross training in other martial arts?
EM For the past several years I have read magazine articles about tournament (Shiai) karate. Miyagi Sensei and I both predicted that in order to promote karate we must hold tournaments. I have been doing karate for over 60 years. When I began karate there was no protective gear. The protective gear will allow a student to further his kumite techniques. Miyagi Chojun also recommend hojo-undo to strengthen our bodies and all other arts and sports to improve our health. He told us that we should not just train in karate but to try other arts such as Judo and Kendo. If your body is strong from training in other arts and hojo- undo you will be able to withstand any strikes or kicks to your body. In the same respect you will be able to stop an attacker with one punch or kick.
2. How long were Miyagi Sensei’s training classes?
EM In those days training would last between two and four hours and training was very free to come and go on your own. The most number of students that would train was about 10.
3. Was the Miyagi family house at the same location before the war?
EM It is the same location but a different house. After the war Miyagi Sensei taught at several other locations in Okinawa.
4. Who were some of the students who trained before the war?
EM Most of the students before the war has died, quit karate, or was killed during the war in Okinawa. In 1953 when Miyagi Chojun died, all senior students held meetings to decide what to do about the future of Goju-Ryu karate. Many of the seniors stopped practicing for a long period of time and did not want to become involved. A lot of them forgot the katas or was never taught all of them. I was one of the few students who were fortunate to be taught all the katas. This was a very difficult period of time for everyone. Our Grandmaster of Goju-Ryu died suddenly, we had no water, electricity, and some families were without a home. It was a survival period where our primary concern was for our families, and to provide food for them. It was not on karate. After the war Miyagi Sensei ask me to teach karate at the Police Academy. I then became an assistant to Miyagi Sensei. I also was training in Judo. The home that Miyagi taught us at was not in good condition. I went around and asked people for money to build a nice dojo there. I began working very hard to build a better dojo for my teacher, but Miyagi suddenly died. At the time before Miyagi’s death he was under a tremendous amount of stress and grief. Two of his daughters were on the ship Tsushi Ma Maru going to mainland, Japan. The ship was hit by a bomb and sank at sea. His third son Jun was killed during the war in the Nanbu (southern section) of Okinawa. Miyagi’s number one disciple Jinan Shinzato was also killed during the war. I feel that all of the emotionalstress was part of the reason Miyagi Sensei suddenly died.
5. Was Jinan Shinzato being prepared to be the successor to Chojun Miyagi?
EM No, but he was a gifted student. At age 44 he was killed during thewar in the village of Kin.
6. What was the relationship between Miyagi Chojun and Higa Seiko?
EM Chojun Miyagi trained under Kanryo Higaonna. Seiko Higa was also a student of Kanryo Higaonna until Higaonna’s death in 1917. Higa then became a student of Miyagi Sensei. He trained mostly with Miyagi Sensei before the war.
7. How did Miyagi Chojun feel about making money from karate?
EM Miyagi felt that a person should not make money from teaching karate. Kanryo Higaonna Sensei felt the same way. Today karate has become twisted because unqualified instructors who only trained for a short time have now made a lot of money from opening dojos and promoting students. Many of them have forgotten some of the katas. It would now become quite embarrassing for them to go to their former junior students to relearn a kata.
8. Why is there so much of a difference between each Goju organization’s katas?
EM Because of what I just said. There are big differences between teachers that have learned only a little of our system vs. the entire Goju system.
9. Were the katas taught differently before the war vs. after the war?
EM Yes, very different.
10. Was there more of a Chinese influence (open hand techniques)before the war?
EM Yes, the katas that I was taught and teach in my dojo represents what was taught after the war. Your former teacher, Morio Hiagonna trained under me in this dojo. He has changed the katas from what they originally were.
11. Who was training with Miyagi at the time of his death? Meitoku Yagi? Aniichi Miyagi (no relationship to Chojun Miyagi)?
EM Yagi, yes. Aniichi Miyagi was my student. He came to Miyagi Chojun to study with him, but he only trained for a short time and Miyagi Chojun died. Aniichi Miyagi came to train under me. He trained with Miyagi Chojun under my direction for maybe one-year. During that time if you add up the number of days it came to about one month training in one year. Aniichi Miyagi was never recognized as a student of Miyagi Chojun. He was only 22 years old at the time of Miyagi’s death. Higaonna Morio became a good friend of Miyagi Aniichi in order to promote his own organization. I told Morio Hiagonna to stop trying to re-write the Goju-Ryu history. I received a phone call from Morio Higaonna when he was publishing his first book. He asked me to help him but I turned it down because he was trying to promote Aniichi Miyagi and change Goju-Ryu history.
12. How long did Aniichi Miyagi train at the Jundokan and where has he received his Dan ranking?
 EM Aniichi Miyagi trained under me for six years. Aniichi Miyagi worked on a ship and was not able to train very often. I promoted him to 6th Dan Black Belt. (Miyazato gave me a copy of this Dan promotion).
13. Why did Aniichi Miyagi and Morio Higaonna leave the Jundokan?
EM In the Goju-Ryu society in Okinawa few know the name Aniichi Miyagi. No one other than Morio Higaonna has ever heard of him. Aniichi Miyagi left Okinawa many years ago and has never returned. Morio Higaonna was in Tokyo at the time Aniichi Miyagi left Okinawa. Morio was teaching at the Yoyogi dojo. He came to Okinawa at my dojo begging me to let him make a living teaching karate. In Okinawa 97% of all karate teachers have a full time job and don’t make a living from karate. Morio’s mother built a small dojo at her home for him to teach. Morio could not get many students and his wife, Alanna ran back to America. He then followed her. His mother was very upset. Morio was also married to an Okinawan woman who I introduced him to atone time. She was also a University student.
14. In Morio Higaonna’s books, and videotapes there is a direct line from Kanryo Higaonna, Chojun Miyagi, to Aniichi Miyagi, to Morio Higaonna. Why does he promote Aniichi Miyagi as the successor and does not acknowledge you as his teacher?
EM Isn’t better for business? I taught Morio since high school. I will tell him straight. Aniichi Miyagi can’t say anything. No matter what Morio Higaonna writes about Goju-Ryu, Aniichi Miyagi won’t say anything because he knows what he and Morio have done is not correct. All Okinawa karate masters don’t even know who is Aniichi Miyagi. I told Aniichi Miyagi that he doesn’t know anything about Goju-Ryu karate and should quit.
15. How is it perceived by other Okinawan karate masters when a student has trained under you for many years and doesn’t acknowledge that you are his teacher?
EM The Okinawan karate masters won’t ever acknowledge his presence at any function. In Okinawa the great karate masters do not want to associate with Morio Higaonna and no one has heard of Aniichi Miyagi. I understand that in the United States, Morio holds a tournament using Miyagi Chojun’s name. Morio lived near Miyagi Chojun’s house, it is an Okinawan custom to visit Miyagi’s house and grave site and pay your respects to the Grandmaster. I visit and pay my respect to Miyagi Sensei twice a week. I asked myself why doesn’t Higaonna Morio pay his respects to Miyagi Chojun especially because he lives so close to his home? Please ask Ken Miyagi (son of Chojun Miyagi) who lives in Sensei’s home when you visit him.
16. I heard that Morio Hiagonna keeps returning to the Jundokan to try and talk to you. Why does he do this?.
EM Business! If he is still involved with the Jundokan and me it brings him credibility. At an All Japan Goju-Ryu tournament in Tokyo, Japan, the top Goju-Kai masters at the event confronted Morio. They asked Morio why was he going around promoting himself as the World Goju- Ryu Karate Chairman? This caused me some problems because I was his teacher. (This was confirmed by another Goju-Ryu master, Shuji Tasaki, 8th Dan Goju-Kai). When Morio would come to Okinawa he was afraid I would confront him with the incident. He was expelled fromthe Goju-Kai organization.
17. When Morio Higaonna left the Jundokan what Dan grade was he?
EM I never expelled him from the Jundokan. He made the decision to leave several times. When he left he was 6th Dan. One time later he came back to my dojo and begged me to sign off for him to be graded to 7th Dan by the Goju-Kai organization. I felt sorry for him and his desperation and signed for him to receive his 7th Dan (see copy of this record). He has never received a Dan grade from his so called teacher,Aniichi Miyagi.
18. Recently it was announced that Hanshi Yuchoku Higa, a Shorin-Ryu master who has died, promoted Morio Higaonna to 9th Dan. How is receiving rank from a master that he never trained under and also a teacher from a different karate style? If his teacher was Aniichi Miyagiwhy didn’t he receive any Dan grading from him?
EM Isn’t this the problem from the person receive the rank? I don’t like to talk about Mr. Yuchoku Higa, but people have told me that before he passed away he was giving out a lot of 10th Dan certificates to instructors from mainland Japan. In budo circles Morio Hiagonna isn’t old enough to receive his 9th Dan certificate. This is an honorary degree and you must be at least 65 years old. It is not awarded because of technical ability. Koshiki is an official ceremony that says you have been teaching karate for a long time. There are a lot of teachers accepting high rank in martial arts and now Morio has become that way also.
19. What do you think happened to Morio Higaonna that has caused him not to follow your teachings?
EM I think that Aniichi Miyagi has distorted his thinking. Morio is the type of person that needs someone to constanitly help him and that is more knowledgeable than him. Most of his Japanese students have left him and his organization.
20. In 1979 Morio Higaonna formed the I.O.G.K.F. organization. What was his relationship with Teruo Chinan?
EM I have been told that they were roommates together. They lived together for many years and were like brothers. Higaonna was a senior to Chinan in my dojo.
21. In America, Morio Higaonna tells us that Teruo Chinan was his student. Is this true?
EM No. I taught Chinan and Higaonna when they were in high school. Chinan, Hiagonna, and Aniichi Miaygi were all students of mine.Everyone knows this.
22. After Higaonna and Chinan had a falling did Chinan return to the Jundokan to head your organization in the United States?
EM Chinan did come back to the Jundokan but when he went to the United States he was not the chief Instructor of the country. He used that title to make money to start his own Jundokan organization in the U.S.
23. What do your students who trained with Morio Higaonna think about him?
EM A lot students in the dojo that trained with Hiagonna hear all the stories about him. They have a difficult time dealing with him. When they hear stories about Higaonna receiving 9th Dan, it means that Higaonna will do anything to get what he wants. They think its crazy.
24. In Budo magazine article in the US, it stated that Teruo Chinan trained under Chojun Miyagi for two years. Is this true?
EM It’s what I said before- he needed to promote himself to the American people, so he decided to say he trained with Miyagi Sensei. (I asked Ken Miyagi the same question. Ken Miyagi told me Teruo Chinan never trained with his father Chojun Miyagi) There’s so much happening with what Higaonna and Chinan are saying and the only reason I am talking about this is because you are asking me. These questions you ask about Higaonna & Chinan and what they tell the American people are lies. If they were both in my dojo sitting seiza they both could not look me in the face. When Morio Higaonna first came to this dojo he said to me, my father died and my mother is very poor so I have no money to train. Please let me train here. So I allowed him to train for free. Morio’s mother told him that Miyazato Sensei has been very good to you and in return you must always show your respect for him and go to visit him. He would come to visit me and sat seiza outside my dojo. I went out tosee him and told Higaonna not to come back to my dojo.
25. Did you ever meet Morio Higaonna’s Wife, Alanna?
EM No, but she told my student that she said to, Teruo Chinan “Why don’t you take a Dan grade under my husband, Morio”? Chinan replied, ” Why should I take a Dan grading under Higaonna? I’m not his student. My master is Miyazato Sensei”.One of the last times Morio visited my dojo he stated he was going to write a book on Goju-Ryu history and wanted me to be involved in the book and my cooperation. I told him “No”. There are many people that are leaving both of their organizationsto be affiliated with the Jundokan.
26. When did Teruo Chinan leave the Jundokan?
EM In 1993 Chinan came to our 40th year dojo celebration. I confronted Chinan about altering Dan certificates. I sent him a letter (see enclosed letter) on November 11, 1994 terminating his relationship with the Jundokan. He is no longer affiliated with me or Jundokan. He’s a disgrace.
27. What do you recommend to US Goju-Ryu karate-ka that is looking for affiliation of a Goju-Ryu organization?
EM If you want to learn true Okinawan karate, then they should contact our organization and come to Okinawa to train at the dojo. Okinawa is very close to the rest of the world. I have so many of both Higaonna’s and Chinan’s students asking me the same questions about their background and Goju-Ryu history. But this is always an inconvenience to me to answer the same questions over and over again.
28. Was Morio Higaonna expelled from the All Japan Karate Do Goju-Kai organization?
EM Yes. After he was going around promoting himself as the World Chairman of Goju-Ryu Karate the top Goju-Kai masters confronted him. They told him to bring proof of his appointment and who were the masters that are on his board of directors. He could not name anyone and so they expelled him. (Goju-Kai masters, Shoji Tasaki and Takeshi Uchiage who are members of the organization confirmed this).
29. How is it perceived in an Okinawan karate organization? If a person comes into your organization a certain Dan level and you ask them to test and don’t tell them what you are testing them for. Then you award the student a lower level Dan grade. What is your opinion of what this instructor is doing?
EM Everyone is different. But Dan grading are not just bout a student’s technical ability. As a student becomes higher in Dan grading is honorable. What is strange to me is Morio Higaonna accepting 8th & 9th Dan from a Shorin-Ryu instructor he has never trained under. What happened to his teacher Aniichi Miyagi? When a person is out to promote his style it is O.K. to receive honorary grades from an instructor in the same style. But if the motive is to make money it is not good. If Morio Higaonna promotes a student to a lower level than his Dan grade from another organization, it is not a positive thing to do. Morio is not recognizing his student’s hard work in training with someone else for many years. The feeling from the heart is the most important element of training and you can’t but someone else’s heart.
Miyazato Sensei’s closing remarks:
Please when you write this article, think before you write because Morio Hiagaonna is getting older and this could crush his organization. It’s too sad to do this to him. Tell him personally that you went to Miyazato Sensei’s dojo to hear the truth and not to hurt him, but you only wanted the truth.
Authors final comment:
As I write this article I was very saddened about the passing of Grandmaster Eiichi Miyazato. He was one of the greatest masters that I have been able to meet and train with at his dojo. I was with my first Goju-Ryu Master Kyoshi Chuck Merriman shortly after the time Miyazato Sensei’s passed away. Merriman Sensei did everything he could do to go to Okinawa to Miyazato’s Sensei’s funeral. I admire what Merriman Sensei did for his teacher, Eiichi Miyazato. Merriman Sensei attended Sensei Miyazato’s funeral in Okinawa, Japan.

 Miyazato Sensei was a very simple man. He did not seek out covers of magazines, make huge sums of money, or want the power of running a large karate organization. He truly practiced the teachings of Chojun Miyagi. Simple, Direct, and Uncomplicated. Just have fun training. That’s what Miyazato Sensei did every day at his dojo in Okinawa until he passed away. Miyazato enjoyed teaching karate to anyone who wanted to learn.

 Author: Kent Moyer is a Nandan/Kyoshi in Okinawan Goju-Ryu Karate. He is the U.S. Headmaster of International Okinawan Goju-Ryu Karate, Kobudo Ken Shi Kai in Los Angeles, Ca. Moyer is the senior student of Kyoshi Tetsuhiro Hokama in Okinawa, Japan.

Ryukyuan Belt System

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On the 17th of June 1961 karate masters from all over Okinawa gathered at the Yashio-so in Naha.  This meeting was to discuss the unification of Okinawan karate and to endorse it by using the Okinawan Kobudo Kyokai as the governing body.  Karate Master Higa Seitoku assumed the responsibility as the 1st chairman of the association.

One of the items that was discussed during this meeting was the establishment of a Ryukyuan rank system that was different from the Japanese rank system.  What was discussed and decided upon was to use the colors from Shuri Castle and establish belts based on these colors.  The breakout was as follows:

1st, 2nd, and 3rd Dan - Black Belt with a Silver stripe
4th, 5th, and 6th Dan - Black Belt with a gold stripe
7th and 8th Dan - Red Belt with a gold stripe
9th Dan - Red belt with a wide gold stripe
10th Dan - Solid Gold Belt

Many of the senior teachers in the group were awarded these new belts, and they continued wearing them throughout the remainder of their lives.  An example of this is Uehara Seikichi sensei, who was awarded a Gold Belt from the Okinawan Kobudo Kyokai in 1964.

Photo of the Okinawan Kobudo Kyokai from 17 June 1961


The Okinawan Kobudo Kyokai began falling apart in 1969 following the passing of Nakamura Shigeru.  Some of the senior teachers reverted back to wearing more of the Japanese style senior belts (red/white panel belt and solid red belts) within a few years after the association fell apart.


Gambatte Kudasai!!!
Scot