When I was learning Kobudo from Minowa sensei I could get away with asking him questions directly; something that my senpai would never be able to do. In hindsight I cringe at what I did, but when I trained with sensei it was during my first three years in Japan and I was so culturally inept and my Japanese was still developing.

Hichiya Yoshio

“Do not be struck by others, do not strike others”, the founder’s last teachings, held in his heart

Okinawa Goju-ryu Karate Association Hichiya Dojo, Yoshio Hichiya (Holder of the Intangible Cultural Asset of Okinawa Prefecture)

Do not be hit by others, do not hit others”. With this in mind, he ties his belt tightly around his Karate-gi. It’s this same moment when he stands tall, just as he did 63 years ago when he first encountered Karate. He is still standing at the Hichiya Dojo in Shuri, Ishinome-cho, Naha City, where he has a keen eye for teaching. He is respected for his overwhelming technique and gentle personality, and his dojo attracts Karateka from both Okinawa and abroad.

Higaonna

Higaonna Morio (78), Supreme Master of Goju-ryu and a designated intangible cultural asset of Okinawa Prefecture, offers tea and incense at the International Okinawa Goju-ryu Karate-do Federation General Headquarters, Higaonna Karate Dojo in Makishi, Naha City, on the first and fifteenth day of the lunar calendar every month.

Nakamoto Masahiro

Bunbukan, General Headquarters of the Okinawa Traditional Kobudo Preservation Society, Mr. Masahiro Nakamoto (Holder of Intangible Cultural Asset of Okinawa Prefecture)

Kobudo is my life. I’ve been chasing it my whole life, but there is no end to my study. Nakamoto Masahiro, 79, the only person in Kobudo who has been designated as an intangible cultural asset, wakes up at 3 a.m. every morning and devotes himself to studying and practicing the use of eight different weapons, including the bo and nunchaku. Fifty-five years have passed since he decided to carry on the tradition of Kobudo, which was on the verge of extinction, and at the age of 24, he knocked on the door of master Taira Shinken. He teaches the techniques and spirit he has developed at the Okinawa Traditional Martial Arts Preservation Society’s general headquarters, ‘Bunbukan‘ in Shuri, Torihori-cho, Naha City.