Karate Study Group

Higa Seko, Goju-ryu, Vancouver, BC,Kowakan, Karate, Hillcrest Community Centre
HIga Seko & Students (Source: http://ryubun21.net/index.php?itemid=2501)

I’m taking a break from my book on Kyoda Juhatsu. So, rumaging through my documents I found this interview conducted by Hokama Tetsuhiro (Kenshikai founder) with Toguchi Sekichi (Shoreikan founder) published in 1986. The interview is quite long, but I thought I’d translate this small piece on Toguchi’s recollections of the opening of Higa Seko’s dojo; which may have been the first commercial dojo opened on Okinawa after the war. As with everything I write on this blog, you’re welcome to use it provided you link back to the source.

Originally published in Hokama Tetsuhiro’s “Karate no Kokoro” (1986) pp.168 – 172

Hokama: Was a karate dojo open then? (1)

Toguchi: Not yet. At least not at first. And then people started to talk, “Sensei, why don’t we build a dojo. . . The top student of Miyagi Chojun sensei was a man named Kamiya Jinsei who helped us so much and was around at that time. He was a doctor and the medical director the General Hospital, as well as the head of the Athletic Association. He was a saintly man. Since he was the most senior student of Miyagi sensei, it was through Higa [Seko] sensei that we met Kamiya Jinsei who we visited on several occasions.

When we consulted with Kamiya, “In fact, we would like to build a dojo”  he replied, “Why not use my land opposite the Itosu elementary school.” And that’s how it happened. We were so happy.  But remember, this was after the war and all the land was destroyed and very rough; it was a very difficult time.

Just out of the way was a foundry so we brought five or six of their employees to come and clear and level the ground. After that, but we collected money but it wasn’t enough. My brothers and worked together and got some material from the house so we were finally able to make a dojo about  two meters by six  meters.

Hokama: Was this Kamiya Jinsei’s land?

Toguchi: That’s right. It was the first dojo built after the war.

Hokama: This was in what month of Showa 22 (1947)?

Toguchi: I think it was at the end of Showa 22 (1947).

Hokama: What was written on the sign board?

Toguchi: That’s right. We put up a sign board. It said, “Karate Kenkyujo” (Karate Study Group). It was about 20 to 30 cm long and about 160 or 180 cm long with the words “Karate Kenkyujo” written on it I remember.

Hokama: Did it have the name “Goju-ryu” written on it?

Toguchi: Now that you mention it, yes it did, “Karate-do Goju-ryu Kenkyujo”.

Hokama: “Karate-do Goju-ryu Kenkyujo”?

Toguchi: That’s right, I’m sure of it.

Hokama: Were the names Higa Seko and Toguchi Sekichi on it?

Toguchi: No, no. Those names weren’t on it.

Hokama: So, they weren’t on the sign?

Toguchi: No, just “Kenkyujo”.

Hokama: So you put up a small sign, “Karate-do Goju-ryu Kenkyujo” and recruited students?

Toguchi: Yes, about 10 people.

Hokama: Did these 10 people pay tuition?

Toguchi: Yes, they paid a little bit (laughing)

Hokama: About how much per month did they pay  for instruction?

Toguchi: How much did they pay I wonder.  Back then, I think it was about 4 or 5 yen.

Hokama: In those days a teacher’s base salary was 200 to 250 yen per month. So, you had about 10 students.

Toguchi: That’s right. We had taxi drivers and kids from the neighborhood…

Hokama: Who was the instructor? Was it Higa Seko, Toguchi Sekichi?

Toguchi: No, no. Higa Seko. I was sort of the assistant instructor.

Hokama: So, Higa Seko was the instructor and Toguchi Sekichi was the assistant instructor. At that time, Miyagi Chojun was still in Chanjadoi, Taba, in Gushikawa city, right?

Toguchi: Yes, around that time.

Toguchi: He stayed there the whole time….
I was just around the corner then Immediately after the war. The story, more or less, was that before the war Miyagi sensei was teaching for four years at the Okinawa Teachers’ College. After the war I was reunited with him in Gushikawa. At that time, Miyagi was a karate teacher at the police academy and I was an instructor at the Okinawa Education School at that time.  Since they were next to each other it I could help Miyagi sensei. This sure bring back memories. (2)

Hokama: That’s wonderful! (3)

(1) In reference to Higa Seko’s dojo

(2) In the interview this section is labelled as Hokama speaking, but I believe this to be incorrect and I have labelled it as Toguchi speaking.

(3) In the interview this section is labelled as Toguchi speaking, but I believe this to be incorrect and I have labelled it as Hokama speaking.