Higa Seiko & Higa Seikichi Memorial Translated

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First and foremost I would like to give a shout out to Mr. Andy Sloane for sending me these wonderful pictures.

Recently the memorial marker at the Higa family tomb in Shuri was removed.  A few days ago this new one was revealed.  So this post is a translation of the new memorial marker found at the tomb of Higa Seiko and Higa Seikichi.

Gambatte Kudasai!!!

Kensei (拳聖) Higa Seiko

1898 November 8 - Born in Naha as the second son of Higa Seishu.
1911 – Began training under Higashionna Kanryo at the age of 13, after Higashionna’s death began training with Miyagi Chojun.
1919 – After graduating from Okinawa Fishery College became a primary school teacher, changed professions and became a police officer.
1931 May – Resigned from the police force and opened the Shimoizumi-cho Dojo in Naha City.
1933 – Relocated the Shimoizumi-Cho dojo to Matsushita Town, this dojo was open until 1944.  In 1937 established a dojo in Saipan.  In 1939 established a dojo in Itoman at the Hiroshima University of the Ryukyus located in Okinawa Prefecture.
1940 – Was awarded a [Karatedo Renshi] from the Dai Nippon Butoku Kai.  In March of 1954 was awarded the title of Hanshi.
1956 – Was one of the first directors for the Okinawa Prefecture Karatedo Federation, and in 1960 was the second Kaicho for this group.
1960 – Established the Shodokan Gojuryu Karatedo Hombu, later the same year he established the Gojuryu International Karate and Kobudo Federation and was the first Kaicho of this group.
1966 April 16 – Passed away at the age of 68.

Higa Seikichi
1927 February 10 – Was born in Naha City
1933 February – Began studying under his father Higa Seiko
1960 February – Was awarded the title of Renshi.  In 1965 was awarded the Kyoshi title.  In 1987 was awarded the Hanshi title.
1966 – Became the second Kancho of the Shodokan Dojo.
1976 – Began training in Kobudo under Nakaima Kenko.
1986 through 1998 became the Okinawa Karate Do Renmei Kaicho
1990 through 1996 was the Kaicho of the Gojuryu International Karate Kobudo Federation.
1990 January – Visited Fuzhou China as part of the International Martial Arts Community.
1993 through 1999 was a key component to the Okinawan prefecture Karatedo Federation.
1999 May 13 – Passed away at the age of 73.

2018 October
Gojuryu International Karate Kobudo Federation

Bukijutsu vs Kobudo

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Recently one of my students asked me about Kobudo and why I call my weaponry as bukijutsu instead of Okinawan kobudo.  So this is my response to this question, and hopefully it can shed some light on my way of thinking about this particular topic.

First off, Kobudo is a very deceptive word.  The kanji for kobudo reads 古武道, meaning “Old War Way”.  This implies that of all the Okinawan material; Kobudo would be the oldest thing on the island.  That would mean that it completely pre-dates karate in every way possible.  So if that is the case, then why were most of the kata (型/forms) created after karate styles were already established?  Even when you go back and look at some of the older forms they were being established at the same time as karate (or te).  So how could something be “older” when it was created at the same time or after?

When you are looking at what is old and what is new the Dai Nippon Butokukai had established categories for systems.  These are Koryu (古流) and Gendai (現代).  Koryu styles were martial art styles that were established (as a complete system) and being practiced before 1868.  Anything after 1868 is called Gendai, meaning a modern martial art.  When karate was first being registered with the Dai Nippon Butokukai every style was considered gendai and was in the category of shinbudo (新武道), which means “new budo”.  Even weaponry that was established fell into this same category.  There are some elements of karate that may have been practiced before 1868, but the honest truth of it is that the styles were not organized until much later.  So in my opinion karate is gendai with some koryu elements.

The second problem with using the word kobudo is that it’s a very regional term.  Depending where you are in Japan you will get different responses if you say the word “kobudo”.  Within the karate community it is accepted to mean weaponry.  However in other parts of Japan you could get anything from swords and spears (katana and yari), to bows and arrows (yumiya/弓矢), to someone else who might show up ready to wrestle.  And let’s not even talk about Ninjas. ;)

So some of the schools in Okinawa that teach weaponry use the term “bukijutsu”, I have also adopted this word because it is a lot more honest about the material.  Buki (武器) means weapon or weaponry, and jutsu (術) means art.  I personally like this term because it is a heck of a lot less ambiguous than kobudo, and it means exactly what it is intended to mean.

So for the weaponry I teach, not all of it is from Okinawa.  When I was in Yong Chun village I had picked up a very cool kocho soto (butterfly swords/蝴蝶雙刀) kata, in Hong Kong I got a nice sansetsukon (three section staff/三節棍) form, and others I have picked up over the years of traveling and training.  The base of my weaponry is from Ryueiryu, which is still the core, but the other kata are very nice additions that complement the original weaponry.  So it’s not really accurate if I say “Okinawan kobudo” since some of the material I teach is from China or even mainland Japan.  This is why I use the term bukijutsu (weapon art), this is a heck of a lot more honest about what it actually is.  It’s just a shame so many people only use kobudo, without even knowing what the word means or how it is technically historically inaccurate.

Food for thought.

Gambatte Kudasai,