During the later end of the summer in 2019 Senaha Sensei visited us here in England to teach Karate accompanied by James East Sensei. This was Sensei’s first return to our shores since back in 2007 when he was accompanied by Tamaki Sensei where we hosted them in Birmingham, which is where I was living at the time. This time around his visit was to centre around three areas of England, as in Devon, the Midlands and London. I not only always relish the opportunity of training daily under Sensei, but I also really enjoy spending time in his company too. As this is where I not only get to learn from his wealth of experience when it comes to both life and Karate, but it also makes our relationship a personal one. To the point that by the end of his stay I think that if he could have taken my cat home with him to go with his three, he probably would have done. Senaha Sensei is an incredibly happy and infectious character who has a personal relationship with all of his close students. He is though still a teacher of the old ways, so regardless of his open friendliness, he can be known to and will scold students who step out of line, and rightly so.
As a student I feel that having a close relationship with ones Sensei is paramount. To the point that I could never just be a little known number out of thousands of students. True Karate was always transmitted by way of the mutual personal understanding and close bond between a Sensei and his student. For me this is one area of Karate where I have no compromise and feel that there is no other way.
This being the case I’m going to add just a few of the words spoken by Senaha Sensei in our many conversations that took place during his visit to England that may be of either interest or benefit to others.
“Excessively hard testing in Sanchin kata is extremely dangerous if done incorrectly. Strikes should be firm but done in outward angles, never downwards on the shoulders or inwards, especially so to the sides as this can-do damage to the internal organs or the heart”.
“Different Dojo’s on Okinawa often have different interpretations of kata moves. This is why at times moves are slightly different even within the same style. Senaha Sensei then demonstrated a move from Seienchin Kata, as in the Nukite in Shiko Dachi. Whereby within the Meibukan they are done to the front, and within the Jundokan they are done to the side. Both are correct one’s thinking is just different or preferred”.
“His teacher Yagi Sensei he feels was an innovator who was always coming up with different training methods or new training drills. Often experimenting with these ideas on or with his students. Plus, Sai Kempo meaning number one teacher, as in Koh Shinko Sensei, came from Tai Pai/Taiwan to Okinawa to teach at the Yagi Dojo. This is why some of the Meibukan based drills are not seen in other Goju Ryu Dojo. Shinken Taira Sensei often taught Kobudo their too”.
“In the old days students never really asked questions from their Sensei as questioning was seen as wrong, or maybe even disrespectful, so this is why there aren’t always true answers or maybe even conflicting ones. Senaha Sensei likes questions from his students as it not only shows that they are thinking deeply, but it also makes him think about things more deeply too”.
“Shoshin Nagamine, Yuchoku Higa, Kani Uechi, Meitoku Yagi all started the Okinawa Renmei Organisation. Of which Senaha Sensei is still a member to this day. Senaha Sensei and Shinjo Masanobu Sensei took their 2nd Dan (Nidan Gradings) on the same day under the Renmei, with the grading being held at the Jundokan Dojo on this occasion. (I believe that Senaha Sensei is presently the Chief Examiner of the Renmei)”.
“Karate is based off three things that are known as San Gen. TSUKI – KERI – TENSHIN (UKE are more modern and came later)”.
“After the death of Chojun Miyagi Sensei, Meitoku Yagi and Seikichi Toguchi went together to see Kyoda Sensei asking him to be president of Goju Ryu and Miyagi‘s students. Kyoda Sensei agreed but wished for a new start and to change the name from Goju Ryu to a new name. But out of respect for their teacher they declined”.
“There are a few ways of doing things when it comes to Karate, but students often get blinkered or brain washed into a way of thinking by their school, style, or organisation. So they tend to think that their way is the only way or the correct way. Senaha Sensei advises students to not only be more open minded but to think logically for themselves”.