I’ve seen much written on social media of late regarding the inheritor of the Goju Ryu Karate system of Chojun Miyagi Sensei. There have been friendly discussions, posting of supposed proof to support ones favour, disagreements, and even debates to the point of people falling out. In many cases though people look at things from how they wish to see them, from the setting of their own personal experiences, or they are a little biased to the point of being blinkered. Which is fair enough I suppose. However, if you look at the grey rainy sky for long enough it will change into being blue sunny and more to our liking. But is the sunshine of today the true sky of yesterday…

The thing with Karate is that you can have the best Sensei and lineage in the world, but if you’re not training regular and taking the 300 years or so of development and understanding on board, then it’s all pretty much useless to you anyway, the same if you’re of poor character. Personally I try not to get wrapped up in things and just concentrate on my own training. Here though are a few thoughts for consideration…

My understanding is that neither Eichi Miyazato, Meitoku Yagi or Seikich Toguchi Sensei’s ever openly claimed to be the most senior student or inheritor of the Goju system of Chojun Miyagi. A few of their students may have made such claims, but I don’t believe that they ever did. Yes, Miyagi’s students may have met up after his death to try and get a consensus on who would head things, but it never really happened for varying reasons, so basically they all went their separate ways and directions. Also, I’ve spoken to a few Okinawan teachers on this issue, and most agree that Miyazato and Yagi Sensei’s didn’t really get along. Not everyone does in a Dojo you know despite suggestions to believe otherwise. However, they always had a quiet understanding and respect for each other, with no need for public airing.

What I always find kind of strange, or is it interesting, how Karate Ka’s standing in the West and around the World, can differ so greatly when one is talking to teachers directly on Okinawa. The other thing is this, if one does their research thoroughly, they will soon discover that there were other students of Miyagi who were all senior to the above, having not only started training under Miyagi prior to them, but continuing to do so right up until the untimely death of Miyagi in 1953.

One year prior to Chojun Miyagi’s death the notice in the Ryukyu Shinbun advertisement for the Goju Ryu Shinkokai of Miyagi, thus listed none of the above names. There was however listed, Genkai Nakaima, Seiko Higa, Keiyo Matanabashi, Jinsei Kamiya. There are other names who were leading students and seniors of Miyagi at the time too, like Tatsutoku Sakiyama and Kuju Nanjoh. Lastly, if you claimed to be the inheritor to the system and the senior student of Miyagi even though you hadn’t even been born yet when these guys had started training with Miyagi, well it would be more than a little difficult to believe for sure. All is food for thought as they say…

I will leave you with the words of Seikichi Toguchi Sensei “I was not named the successor of Goju-Ryu by Miyagi, but nor was anyone else. There are some Goju-Ryu teachers who claim to have been privately appointed successor by Miyagi. These claims are ludicrous and disrespectful to his memory”.

The heading photograph is from the private collection of Shigetoshi Senaha Sensei, with Tatsutoku Sakiyama (Senaha) being his uncle. This being passed over by Sensei to my good friend Jon Hallberg Sensei whilst living on Okinawa, of which he happily shared for all to see on fb.