Karate Stories and Oaths
Oath of Goju
Master Chojun Miyagi
Be humble and polite
Train considering your physical strength
Practice earnestly with creativity
Be calm and swift
Take care of your health
Live a plain life
Do not be too proud or modest
Continue training with patience
by Chojun Miyagi (1934)
A large space is not required.
It can be practiced alone.
Its practice does not require much time.
Men and women, young or old, can practice karate, it depends entirely upon one's constitution. Proper kata can be selected and practiced at one's discretion.
One can practice with empty hands or the use of simple equipment can also be employed without much expense.
Training in karate improves one's health. This fact is evident from the physical condition of aged enthusiasts.
Physical and mental unity develops an indomitable spirit.
Precepts of Okinawan Goju Ryu
It should be known that secret principals of Goju Ryu exist in the kata.
Goju Ryu Karate-do is a manifestation within one's own self of the harmonious accord of the universe.
The way of Goju Ryu Karate-do is to seek the way of virtue.
Miyagi Chojun 1888-1953
"You must, above all, learn the art of true and real patience. Follow the WAY of patience to the seventh power and never be in a hurry to learn. Always think first and avoid acting rashly. Never harm anyone or let yourself be harmed."
Do not be struck by others.
Do not strike others.
The principle is the peace without incident.
Five Secrets of Japanese Goju Ryu
Sound, calm mind.
Be light in body.
Have a clever mind.
Master the basics.
Book of Five Rings
Do not think dishonestly.
The Way is in training.
Become acquainted with every art.
Know the Ways of professions.
Distinguish between gain and loss in worldly matters.
Develop intuitive judgement and understanding for everything.
Perceive those things which cannot be seen.
Pay attention even to trifles.
Do nothing which is of no use.
Rules of the Dojo
by Kyuzo Mifune, judan
To master an actual technique, mental culture should come first.
Acquiring a technique requires a careful, modest, non-mean, free and attentive mind.
In other words a player should do his utmost and nothing less.
Rules of Kyuzo Mifune
Have no falsehood in mind.
Ruluctance or deceit are not conducive to the inner harmony required by Judo practice.
Do not lose self-confidence.
Learn to act wholeheartedly, without hesitation. Show reverance toward the practice of Judo, by keeping your mind in it.
Keep your balance.
The center of gravity follows the movement of the body. The center of gravity is the most important element in maintaining stablility. If it is lost, the body is naturally unbalanced. Thus, fix your mind so that your body is always in balance.
Utilize your strength efficiently.
Minimize the use of strength with the quickest movement of body. Acknowledge that what is called stillness and motion is nothing but an endlessly repeated process.
Don't discontinue training.
Mastery of Judo cannot be accomplished in a short time. Since skills depend on mental and physical application, constant training is essential.
Keep yourself humble.
If you become self-centered, you will build a wall around yourself and lose your freedom. If you can humble yourself in preparation for an event you will surely be better able to judge and understand it. In a match, you will be able to detect the weak point of your opponent and easily put him/her under control.
Master Toguchi Poem
In honor of Miyagi Chojun Sensei
"A Tiger dies and leaves its skin" - Although a living
creature, an animal is not conscious of meaning in it's daily striving for
sustenance and achieves nothing more than mere propagation of the species. When
it dies it has nothing to leave but it's physical body which soon withers away
to dust and bone.
"A man dies and leaves his name" - As humans we are intelligent,
sentient beings who plan, build and contribute to a civilization. The ordinary
person contributes to the growth of a family, passes on traditions and
experiences that enhance that growth. When death comes to that person he or she
is remembered fondly in memories.
"A teacher dies and teaches death" is indeed a most profound statement.
With every move and moment of life a REAL teacher shows an example of how to
live correctly and even in dying teaches that life and indeed death is precious.
We should all strive to be such a teacher and by doing so leave more than just a
physical body, or a fond memory, but a legacy of striving for perfection within
Poem by Master Gogen Yamaguchi
Karate requires you to make a strenuous effort night and day, before you achieve understanding.
Strong Spirit and Will Power, so that we can overcome our own interests.
It is very important to exercise every day, not to be come bored, not to give into anguish
Essentially the purpose of karate was to protect ourselves, But now through karate we are not only training our bodies, but our minds. Therefore, The Way is not to attack another, but to restrain yourself, we should not do harm to others.
Accordingly, your emphasis should not be on skills, but on training your mind. If you are impatient, you can not expect improvement in your skill
If you become arrogant and over- confident in your skills, you should not be involved in the study of karate.
The major teachings of karate are to achieve confidence in yourself , to be polite, maintain peace and tranquility of mind. You should pay tribute to your parents, ancestors and master. You should also be in harmony with your friends.
You must keep them in mind and not become arrogant and over- confident. It is extremely important to keep and show reverence to your master, otherwise, even if you are great at karate, you will follow the path of extreme, your desire for understanding can never be attained.
If you stop learning karate, spontaneously you are forced to do that .
You have to know it is a long way to polish your skill, train your spirit and keep tranquility of mind; to get rid of our own interests and do what is the right thing.
After you become aware of these, you will know the greatness of gods.
For you to achieve this you must discard your own interest and then you will understand The Way.
Karate Stories of Goju Ryu
THE CHINESE BABY
by Peter Urban
"Mukashi, Mukashi", (once upon a time), in the days of old Nippon , there lived a very proud and strong fighter, the very greatest in all that island country. Everyone, even the Emperor, marveled at his strength.
"Surely you are the greatest fighter in the world," all would tell him. "And surely I am," he would boastfully agree. And so it went until he was quite puffed up indeed.
One day by chance he met a small foreigner, a Chinaman, who also marveled at his prowess, saying, "Surely you are the greatest fighter in this little island country." At this, the big man rose on rage and bellowed, "What do you mean? I am the greatest in the world."
The great fighter was then speechless, for he had not realized that the world extended beyond the shores of the island empire.
At last, he asked of the little stranger, "Who is greater than I? Where are there stronger fighters?"
The little man then turned to the sea and, pointing to the horizon, and answered, "Beyond that line is the world, and in that world is a land far, far larger than yours. In that land there is a fighting art which has the most skilled fighters in the world. They are humble people, but they are better than you!"
The Japanese champion was stunned into silence, but he realized that to attack this upstart little foreigner would solve nothing. After a few moments of reflection, he declared, "I do not believe you. I am the greatest fighter in the world without question, but I am curious to see why you say what you do, so I shall travel to this land you speak of and see for myself."
(It's a good thing that the great boaster didn't attack that little upstart foreigner who wore a funny looking jacket with long sleeves that concealed his arms. The inside forearms had dragons on them burned into his flesh forever from white hot branding irons. Sometimes it is not best to mess with little guys because you never know. I have always heard it said when I was a kid that dynamite comes in small packages. A heavy package doesn't mean anything until it is opened.)
The Japanese fighter said that he would take his own small boat on the voyage; perhaps the Chinese gentleman would assist him by giving a few directions? The Chinese gentleman did, and the champion set out on his journey.
Upon reaching the shores of Cathay (archaic word for China ), the champion thrust his way through the people, eagerly asking everyone he met, "Who is the champion fighter of the country and where can I find him?" His search soon led him to the door of a little house in the mountains.
The door was opened by a frail Chinese grandmother, who listened politely to the gruff Japanese champion and then told him softly that it was her grandson whom he was looking for. Her grandson was only a baby but was indeed considered the best fighter in China . Would the Japanese gentleman care to wait? the baby would be coming home soon, and then they could fight together. She said as calmly as if she were talking about two kids who wanted to play games together. Perhaps she was a bit sensual thought the tough guy, old people are funny that way in Japan .
The old lady excused herself and went to prepare tea for the visitor and rice for the baby, explaining that the baby was always hungry when he came home from a hard day's training in the mountains. Well satisfied, the guest sat down calmly and listened to the sounds of the grandmother's preparations in the kitchen. He felt sure that he could defeat this ridiculous Chinese baby and gain recognition as the greatest fighter in the world. In a little while the champion chanced to glance out the window. As he did, he saw a great shadow slowly coming around the mountain, darkening everything in its path.
The trembling of the ground and the thumping of giant footsteps sent the visitor running into the kitchen in bewilderment. His eyes beheld the old woman setting out a cup and saucer that were as big as a bathtub. "What is that?" he demanded. "Oh, this is the cup for the baby's tea. He is coming now," replied the grandmother quietly.
The Japanese gentleman did not answer, but hastily dashed outside. His alarm changed to terror when he caught sight of the Chinese baby, who stood towering over the trees looking down at him. The Japanese champion turned and rushed down the mountain side as fast as he could.
"Wait," cried the grandmother, "there will be plenty of time to fight after you both have tea!"
The visitor did not answer. His one thought was to get to his boat, which was anchored on the beach at the bottom of the mountain, and start for home. At last he reached it, jumped in, and began rowing madly for Japan.
In his haste he had forgotten to take the anchor, which was on the beach, failing the water with the oars to no avail. The baby soon appeared on the shore and, bellowing out, "Come back and fight," Baby stepped into giving a mighty tug on the anchor line. With that, the boat and the Japanese champion flew through the air like an arrow, hitting the baby in the forehead and knocking him to the ground.
Stunned, the baby picked himself up and, seeing his challenger running across the field, started out in hot pursuit, crying, "Wait, wait, lets sit and talk and! Maybe, play together!" The very idea of playing with this baby terrified the fighter, but he had run a long way and was beginning to tire. The great baby soon overcame him and reached out to scoop him up in his powerful hands. Luck was with the Japanese visitor a second time, for just then the baby tripped on a large boulder, somersaulted through the air, and fell head first into a stone well.
The great stone cistern was in the center of the village. There he remained stuck, his great baby feet waving in the air. The baby soon died because it was jammed in that well with its head under water. All the villagers there could not possible get him out. they were to small and he was too big.
The Japanese champion could hardly believe his good fortune and heaved a sigh of relief. The people of the village all bowed down to him when they saw the dead baby's feet stopped waiving in the air.
The Japanese champion could hardly believe that the villagers had assumed that he, had thrown baby deliberately into the well in a real fight. The champion said absolutely nothing. Eventually returning to his own country.
When he finally arrived, he was greatly honored and congratulated, as the glorious news of his victory had preceded him. He had a great deal to think about on the way home, and everyone was amazed to see that he had become quiet and modest. He had learned that things often are not what they seem to be and that the world is a far larger and more complicated place than one island.
THE SWORDSMAN AND THE FLORIST
by Peter Urban
A flower in the skillful hands of a master of floral arrangement once killed a villainous butcher of other men who was an expert with the steel blade of the two-handed Japanese sword. The Japanese word for sword is (Katana); and (Ikibana) is their word for the art of floral arranging in beautiful vases in aesthetically beautiful settings. Their word for flower is (ohana).
Once upon a time long gone by, in a small town called Kami Seya today, and from which Mount Fuji could be clearly seen in its majestic glory, there lived a master of Ikibana. His name was Sagumi. A very bad criminal called Jiro threatened the flower man with death by sword if he did not pay extortion money. This sort of thing is not unusual in all cultures throughout all historic times. It will always be that way as long as badmen are feared by good people of gentility. Martial artists are people of gentility and goodness. They live unafraid because they can hurt, maim or kill-back with great skill. It is the nature of their art. Such is not the case in Ikibana.
The florist was no hero, but by nature he was a fearless individual, even though he knew nothing of swords, fighting and killing. He made a living alone in his home of small proportion with only flowers, shears, and vases. Ikibana masters also make a lot of money by teaching their art to the cultured people of means. It is quite a prestigious social skill to have; particularly for ladies of quality.
The Ikibana master's garden in contrast to his home looked large as an ocean. In only four more days time, the badman extortionist was due to come to that garden to take all the money the flower man could raise, or to take his life. The mentality of a real martial artist would always take both. If that garden where part of the home of a Sensei, it would not only have beautiful flowers and trees, but also, plenty of room for unmarked graves. The word (Sensei) is from the Japanese language. It means a master teacher of one great discipline or another. School teachers and medical doctors are also called "Sensei".
The florist knew of a Sensei of the Katana who had a dojo (learning-place; martial-arts school), on the outskirts of town in the very charming city of Yokohama . It was only about a twelve mile trip. In those days, people were quite capable of walking a twenty-four mile round trip for schooling and other things of value like a job in the city. Even then, as it is today, only a person who was prepared for any contingency by virtue of their primary training (martial-arts), travel at will anywhere; anytime with the great of confidence. Remember, in olden times streets, paths and highways were not illuminated.
It seems that Jiro, the Ikibana master, had a very old sword that was handed down to him as part of a legacy from his grandparents. They had in turn inherited it from an ancestor whom they too had never known, but only included in their daily prayers. A very formal list of names of departed relatives; in some houses going centuries back, is read daily by mostly women, but not necessarily so. In the old days more so than now, most every home had a "Gohonson", (wall closet-type religious shrine with opening and closing doors; mostly maintained by the truly religiously pious), on the wall of their home. Shinto was the most common religion of Japan , but by no means the only one. It is a very tolerant country in regards to religious choices. Japan 's ancient history did however, include for the killing and burning of overbearing Christian missionaries. Food offerings and flowers are offered and changed almost daily at such home wall or shelf shrines. All real dojos have a religious shrine of their own. It reflects the tastes and thoughts of its Sensei.
The swordsmaster listened to Jiro's entire story very carefully indeed. He understood the situation of another master in a different discipline perfectly. The teacher examined the perfectly preserved beautiful Samurai sword. It was wrapped in velvet cloth in a lacquered box inlaid with mother of pearl. It also bore a very old family crest that could only have been that of a real samurai. To have a samurai in one's lineage is quite something. They were viewed as knights and knighthood in western societies.
Of course the Yokohama sword master couldn't resist the temptation to touch, handle emulate maneuvers with the florist's sword. The desire of the katana teacher to own this instrument could not be hidden. He then did a very strange thing. The florist was requested to sit at a low "ozen" (Japanese floor table), and demonstrate what he did with flowers and a vase the sword teacher had in his home anyway. The flower master compiled. No questions of any kind were asked. He simply obeyed. He did his ritualistic work motions for a half hour straight; without a moment's rest.
The sword master studied every detail like a hawk using its eyes in studying a situation for a swooping attack. The katana sensei then had Mr. Sagumi sit on a rock at a twenty foot distance from the table in his particular garden. Sagumisan (Mr. Sagumi), was given hot tea to sip slowly. He was to just keep his eyes on everything that the sword master would then demonstrate for him. The first name of the Yokohama teacher was "Totaro".
Well, having placed the sword on the table where the flowers and vase formerly were, he then in meticulously ritualistic motion-study did the following: Left hand to scabbard with right hand concomitantly ( harmonious unison), back of palm touching table to under sword handle; cutting edge curvature of scabbard and sword facing away from the teacher, then concomitantly having left hand pull leftwards as right hand with underhanded grip pull rightwards as right hand with underhanded grip pull rightwards with a curving slice type motion at about knee height level, complete and arc that would resolve in an inverted wrist turn for the blade to arc back in its direction with the cutting edge now slicing through a space at waist height. All the while, the left hand holding the scabbard, was concomitantly returning to meet the blade's hilt guard. Right before the contact of scabbard to outside of sword's side, the right wrist again twisted such that the blade's cutting edge and the curvature of its scabbard were in a congruent configuration. The right hand then pulled the blade with its inside blocking edge riding the scabbard with the assist of the wielder's left hand index finger following the blade's feel of motion in braille. All of this was to result in the blade being perfectly returned to the scabbard's entrance; which at the moment of entry was tucked under the left armpit and the end-tip of the scabbard raising upward so that blade went right back to where it belonged with perfect bio-mechanical and ergonomic efficiency. Mind you, all of this was being done by the sword teacher without his eyes ever dropping or looking at anything. He was literally looking at nothing and seeing everything.
Ergonomics simply means that subject and study that deals with the understand and most efficient use of muscles and bones in the motions of biotechnology. A formalized knowledge of "Time, Motion-Study, Design and Measurement of Work" is intregal to deep masterful understanding and ability in all martial-arts; as far as I'm concerned. Masters of many things knew this and practiced it way before there was ever any particular word or grouping of words to describe it, or pass the knowledge on in written or easily comprehensible form. Many things are like that. Sometimes, too many words will confuse a student. Sometimes, intellect blinds. That is why the discovery of things is always the best way. "Sometimes" is a very important word.
Here are the words that Totaro exchanged with Sagumi before the great lesson-session began from one master to another: "In exchange for this priceless sword, I, Totaro Ito, the teacher, shall teach you in but one day to use it in such a way as to transfer your skill with flowers to be able to kill in but a few hours of learning, the evil thief who threatens you." "Do you agree, asked the sword teacher?"
Jiro eagerly nodded with a firm yes; indicating his desire for success. He could see almost religiously that the destiny of this sword being handed down to him was to save his life. He also felt that its final owner would be a sword master; just like his great unknown benefactor ancestor must have been. Time was short. The situational awareness was grave. He had but one life to live and save.
Totaro's last words for that particular day were: "Let's your mind accept the sword to be a long stemmed flower. View its scabbard as a tall vase into which you so gracefully place and withdraw the beautiful things that your hands move so well." He continued with, "Be convinced and maintain the calm confidence of masterful familiarity to your daily work. Transfer the similarities of to your daily work. Transfer the similarities of skill and feelings. They are interchangeable."
"Iai-Jitsu" is the Japanese word for (the art of the quick draw). We appreciate that most when we compare it to the art of the American "gunslingers", so heralded in our literature and old time movies. The Orientals find that to be just as exciting and magical as we non-Orientals find that to be just as exciting and magical as we non-Orientals find the art of their Samurais and Ninjas. They are convinced that our cowboys were something extra special and we are convinced that their "Bushi" (martial-arts warriors of olden times) were.
"Iaido" is also a word to describe the art of the quick draw, but there is more to it than just that. "The butterfly-stroke" is an in house term used to describe a technique of drawing a sword and criss-cross slicing him twice; even when the opponent has his weapon out and launched already. This can be done from the sitting, kneeling or formal sitting position, and also the squatting position. Mr. Totaro, in his deep wisdom, knew exactly what Mr. Sagumi would need. It was the "butterfly-stroke" from the formal seated position at a low table on a straw tattami in a garden.
Mr. Sagumi was told to practice that one technique exactly one-hundred times again when he returned, and to do it right before he went to sleep, but to alternate with one-time flower and vase; then one time sword and scabbard; back and forth, over and over until a total of fifty repetitions was accomplished with each set of instructions was accomplished with each set of instruments. The other advise was about coordinating a super-terrifying scream of anger and violence with the hit. Mr. Sagumi was to get home early, set up his work for the next day; have a cloth on the table with which to hide the sword; to enjoy a completely relaxing hot bath that night when all his work for the next day had been accomplished. In the morning he was to rise an hour earlier than usual. It was mentioned that he should have a very good breakfast of soy-bean soup ("O-mio-tskay" with white rice and very tiny dried fish. He was to wear his most comfortable and elegant looking clothing. His hair was to be swept back and tied in the fashion of samurai. He was told to not move from the table to go to the criminal visitor, but rather to firmly tell the visitor to come to him.
The Ikibana master's eyes and ears had absorbed every priceless gem of knowledge that the sword master could teach him in just one three hour lesson. The sword master was sure of getting paid only if his student of only three hours lived by killing a highly experienced criminal sword-handler who had murdered many good people with his evil sword in his lifetime.
The flower master was really a very clever and ingenious middle-aged man. He left Kami-Seya and returned to it disguided is such a simple peasant's way, that no person recognized him, or anything that resembled a sword. His neighbors didn't even realize that he had been gone at all. He actually was not afraid or nervous. He did, as usual every morning, strike the small prayer bell, light the inscence and put some tangerenes and rice by the shrine as an offering in by his mother. He recited the names of the dead ancestors in the sing-song like chanting voice of prayer; not really knowing which one had been the owner of the sword that he had inherited some three-hundred years later. That katana was to see action that day after a very long rest.
Finally, the moment of truth arrived. The bad man arrived, drunk still from rice wine of the night before, dirty and smelly, as is the custom of low-life rabble in all societies at any time in history. The boisterous villain did exactly what he threatened. The neighbors saw and heard everything. The flower master did not say one single word. Mr. Sagumi just kept on working with his flowers as if nothing at all remarkable were happening. That behavior so upset the villain, that he came forward with sword drawn, uttering profanities of the most vile kind.
ZZZIP!, ZZOPP!!, just like that; out of the clear blue sky, so to speak, the ikibana master did exactly what he was taught to do, but faster, better and easier than he could ever imagine himself capable of doing so masterfully. The would be extortioner went down like a ton of bricks to the ground with his blood running out of his body so profusely that he died in less than half a minute. His last split second eye-contact with the flower master was one of sudden, shocking, sober surprise. His evil life of grandiose dilusions compound with an imaginary superiority complex were gone; extinguished for all eternity in a split second by a mere flower arrangements teacher. Now, that is what I call poetic justice.
It is most interesting indeed, to note that the master from Yokohama, by pure coincidence happened to live on a street named "Ikabana-Cho". In the Japanese language that means (street of flowers) or (Ikibana steet). The word (-cho) simply means street. I never forget things of unusual coincidence. That very same street with that very same name still exists in the shopping district of Yokohama to this very day.
I had the very good fortunate to live in Japan for eight years of my life as a young man. I have shopped on that street hundreds of times myself. Yes, I worked for four of those years in a town called Kami-Seya. It too is still there. I loved the thatched straw roofed homes and the beautiful terraced fields of rice growers. There were many streams then were cloth was dyed and hung to dry on long bamboo poles in the sun to radiate with beauty. My favorite colors were their blue and white patterns.
Although, old and gray of hair now, I still remember every moment, every smell and every sound of that town with such a very special place in my heart of memories. I married at the age of twenty in Japan to a beautiful girl named Mieko Ito. I became a widower twenty-six and a half years later in America. I felt more at home in Yokohama than I ever felt in all the places on three continents that I have lived on in my life.
Young people now tell me that the Japan of my memories is nothing at all like the modern Japan of today. That matters not to me. I still remember the long walk through the great tunnel dripping with dampness, no lights and danger everywhere. The suburban part of Yokohama town, right where the Chinatown section ended was at the end of that long tunnel. Homoko was the name of that part of town. It was beautiful and exciting beyond belief. I always felt that God had blessed everyone who was born in and was privelaged to spend their entire lives in Yokohama. Did you ever come across lives in Yokohama. Did you ever come across such a perfect place for yourself like that in your life and travels? I hope so.
It was noticed a very little bit after, that the bad man extortionist had been cut from behind his right knee on the ikibana master's upward stroke, and then across the ribs and stomach on the downward strike. The complete technique was so fast that there amazingly was not a speck of blood on the still razor sharp blade of that very old samurai sword. The instrument of death felt as light as a flower to its operator's hand. The scabbard felt exactly like a vase at that moment of human intensiveness.
The sword master from Yokohama arrived on the scene about twenty minutes after the villain who had lived by the sword, did also die by the sword. "Omari-sans", (local police-persons) were at the side of the Sensei from Yokohama. They knew of the reputation and crimes of murder and extortion of the now very dead criminal. The body was properly removed with no time wasted. All the neighbors were witness to what had occurred. They stood in awe; not knowing why the sword master helped the flower master in the dirty work of cleaning up the garden to absolute perfection. There was no sign that anything ghastly had happened in that peaceful neighborhood at all. The two men bowed in deepest respect to each other. The one returned to his dojo in Yokohama with a prized sword that he and his lifetime's knowledge had well earned.
And so ends this tale about swords and flowers. It is related by Senseis all over the world on rainy nights in martial-arts dojos of all kinds.
THE NINJITSU PEOPLE
by Peter Urban
There was a time in Japan of the olden days that had originated in China but showed up there over three-hundred years later, a strange group of men and women. They always dressed in black. Such was the nature of their clothing that even their faces and feet were not distinguishable. The softest of black felt cushioned their steps to the sounds that black cats make stalking across thick rugs. They knew many things. Walking in silence and living at night was their way. Friends had they none. Fear and hatred by all had they won from centuries of tales not meek. Theirs was a mystique that few dared to seek. In such a group there were no weak. Reputations of evil traditions of being in league with the demons of power were described by foreign white men devils who called them magicians of Satan and wrote of them as such in terms that have been passed down through the centuries on pages of books that were hidden from view from ordinary people like us.
These "black knights" of old days, who did not believe in magic themselves but who could perform seemingly magical feats, were known as "Ninja," or "Ninjitsu people." The word (nin) means stealth. The word (jitsu) means abilities. Ergo, the archaic Japanese word Ninjitsu literally translates to (the art of stealth). For some it became a way of life. For others it becomes a religion. They were known as professional assassins by the historians of feudal Japan.
There were only two types of Ninjas. Those who were known to be Ninjas were pretenders. Those who were Ninjas were never ever known. real Ninjas were artists of life with the minds of scientists, hands of a surgeon, eyes of a hawk, emotions of a Maco shark and the morals of an ice cube. They kept the company of no one. They could not be recognized by their own kind. They were celibate, never married, not homosexual, fearless, highly educated, never indulged in alcohol, drugs or sinful human pleasures. They trusted only their own sanity.
A Ninja could never be captured or tortured. They had the power to kill themselves at any time of the day of night and under any contingency. They had beads of poison that could be kept in their mouths for any length of time; only crushing down on them with their teeth would release a poison that was so lethal, painless and swift, that it was reserved for only themselves. They could certainly be killed, but never questioned. It took a Ninja to know a Ninja. It took a Ninja to kill a Ninja. They could be anyone at any time and at any place. They could be any tree in a forest of people. To pursue them would be like attacking a bag of quicksand in the darkness of night. They never solicited business. They were never without money. They were very contented to have many imitators and pretenders who would be killed by the righteous.
They were more capable of teamwork than any army. They had no superiors or inferiors when they worked together. They could take orders and give orders with no badges of rank, no egos to feed. They had the brains of men with the efficiency of African red army ants. They had the courage and mercy of a squadron of South American killer bees. To incur the attention of a Ninja or society of Ninjas as a potential threat to them was to nakedly bathe in a river of ravenous paranas.
The most interesting things that highly objective scholar historians ever recorded about them was that they never attracted attention. They were completely in capable of sadism. They would never assassinate children or pregnant women. If they were hired to do a job, they would always be paid in advance. No matter what the needs of a client would be. If it were a child or a pregnant woman targeted as the assignment, the Ninja or Ninjas would accept the money, guarantee the assignment and then kill the client and keep the money. There was never a body to be found in any such instance. They would always lie to a liar, as well as kill them for the very act of lying to a Ninja. For practice and for a general principle still not comprehensible to the finest minds, they would kill very cruel and evil men or women for free and without being hired to do so. This observation is mind-boggling to everyone.
Ninjas devoted their childhood to training for mastery in their peculiar skills and thus were highly skilled in the martial arts. Raised utterly without morals, which they referred to as "imaginary restrictions." They were bereft of virtue as we know it or as is commonly defined by all cultures in the world.
Since they thrived on darkness, their training halls were painted completely black; varying lengths of nails and spikes protruded from the walls. Upon these spikes and stone walls, they practiced jumping, grasping, climbing, and wall-scalling techniques. Acrobatic skills were second nature to them as well as swimming.
They were superb masters of sword-handling, archery, horsemanship, Jiu-Jitsu, stick fighting, body balancing, and the art of throwing tiny poisoned darts and the small, sharp-cornered coins of that era. The latter was a particularly favorite weapon, for who would believe it possible to put out a man's eye and kill him at a distance of more than fifty feet by throwing a coin the size of a silver dollar? No weapon could ever be found -- just an ordinary coin lying in the street.
Hundreds of hours were spent practicing walking across creaky wooden floors without making a sound. This was done by unwinding their long, black, felt waistband; rolling it across the floor; carefully, lightly, and quickly darting down its entire length; then rolling it up and repeating the maneuver until the desired distance was crossed. They did everything with their own inimitable magic and called it "ninjitsu." Disappearing was their most astoundingly developed ability.
Their training, being supremely realistic and scientific, also took into consideration every adverse situation they could imagine. They called their "thing", scientific magic.
They were the original practitioners of the "art of programming." They were taught from the cradle that nothing was impossible. Not knowing that a thing could not be done, they did it.
They had many services to sell to the lords and ladies of the great houses of the day. Their specialty being murder and terror. Many provincial lords, in rivalry for one reason or another, often used the Ninja in preference to the expense of an all-out war against an enemy. A Ninjitsu man or woman could sneak past guards, fool alert watchdogs, do the job, and disappear with no traces of ever having been there at all.
They used black coal dust and chemically-produced smoke screens to distort the sight of pursuers. Their visual memory and sense of direction was so exact that, with one swift glance, they could evaluate all means of egress from a building. This enabled them to leap from any second or third story window, knowing in advance that a tree would be underneath to break their fall. Rooftops were nothing but stepping stones to be adroitly traveled upon. Using their uniquely fashioned silken rope and grabbing hooks, they scaled - up the highest, most forbidding cliffs and walls.
A skilled Ninjitsu man could run down a hallway, jump across the entrance area, grasp the eaves to a doorway, and pull himself up and over onto the roof in a matter of seconds. From the roof, where he blended into the night, he was in a perfect position for throwing darts, coins, or circular disks that looked like the blades of a power saw. No wonder everyone was afraid of them. Chasing them was almost certain death, for they would seem to disappear right in front of a pursuer's eyes. The next thing the pursuer felt would be the sting of a poisoned dart in the back of his neck.
Even when stripped down to nothing but their "fundoshi," or loincloths, they almost always managed to escape without the necessity of having to kill themselves as they always did in a hopeless situation. When the guards led a Ninja out to be executed (a foregone conclusion), he would completely confound his captors by running full tilt toward the seemingly impregnable wall. Just before he did so, he had urinated into his fundoshi. Removing the sopping wet cotton cloth, he ran up the wall as far as he could, letting out a piercing scream and slapping the wet cloth with all his strength against the top of the stone wall. Without stopping his momentum for an instant, he would swing the remaining distance to the top of the wall, using the cloth as a rope, and before the astonished and terrified guards could move, he had disappeared.
The mystique of these historically legendary oriental professional assassins increased as the centuries went by. Their secrets were handed down from family to family, generation after generation. Ninjas were never the natural children of living parents. Everyone was always an orphan or found baby. They were never recruited. It was always said that a Ninja was not made, they were born to be. Talent and destiny led them to be. A Ninja with family would not be a real one. Real Ninjas were asexual, did not need or desire any normal human ties. There could never be such a thing as a successful undercover Ninja impostor. They could not be fooled by anyone or anything or any situation. Real Ninjas had no ambitions, no greed, no passions, no need for power and recognition. They were honest unto their calling. No honest person can be conned. They desired nothing that the earth had to offer. They could not be bribed. The real ones were psychic and could not be lied to . Most of all there was nothing in life that could disappoint them or influence their thinking. They were just special people of a different ilk; born to be what they would become. Such as the world had its Mozart's, so did the martial arts have its Ninjas.
All that is known now is that there are a few old martial arts teachers in southern Japan who, for the sake of tradition only, still practice the Ninjitsu training. These old Sensei's occasionally give an exhibition of the dead art at the more important martial arts cultural festivals. They are always looked upon a little fearfully by the younger participants in the exhibitions, for after all, who knows for sure about such matters?
The portrait of a Ninja that you see in museums is of a very elite looking middle-aged man with a scroll clenched in his mouth; enigmatic looking with piercing eyes. Everyone tries to guess what he is holding in his mouth. I shouldn't tell you the answer to that secret but I will. He is not holding a diploma. He is holding a list of secrets that no person should know. What is that? Never disclose your mistakes, weaknesses or your superiority.
Karate Interviews with Goju Ryu's Famous Grandmasters
Interview with the great Grand Masters of Goju Ryu
Seikichi Toguchi Interview
Seikichi Toguchi, head of Shorei-Kan Interview
When did you start studying Karate?
Formally, I began at 16 years old.
Why did you start studying?
My father loved Karate very much. He began learning Karate when he was quite young. However, I don't believe he took a formal lesson. As a youngster, I always watched him train on the makiwara.
Was your first teacher Higa Sensei or Miyagi Sensei?
I studied with Higa Sensei first.
Why did you begin studying with him?
Because his dojo was very near to my home. It took about 10 minutes to reach on foot. At that time, his dojo had just opened. When I enrolled in his dojo, I had then only 2 senior students.
So it was very newly opened?
Yes, my seniors then were Mr. Yamahiro and Mr. Takamine. Higa sensei taught them privately while he was a police man stationed in the Takameda section of Ittoman City, but Higa sensei retired from the police force and opened his own dojo with Mr. Yamashiro who was then his senior student. Proved to be quite helpful in openeing the dojo, now mr yamashiro has retired from karate, and mr takamine is the pres. of the org. that Higa sensei had founded
Is that sensei takamine Shimaboroku?
Yes, he is the president, but not an active karate teacher.
So I assume you pracaticed with mr takamine and mr. yamashiro?
of course, they were my seniors
Was higa sensei's dojo the first branch dojo of miyagi sensei?
Yes, it was the first and only branch dojo of miyagi sensei. but higa sensei taught miyagi sensei's goju-ryu in ittoman city as mr miyagi sensei's representative until he died.
Now I would like to ask about master Miyagi.
after i joined the dojo of higa sensei, i also studied with miyagi sensei.
So you learned from 2 masters. What kind of teacher was miyagi sensei?
Well, he was, let's say, a typical ancient okinawan bushi. He was very, very, very strict, but he was an incredibly honest man.
Was he demanding of himself?
Yes, he was, quite so.
And demanding of his students?
Yes, of course.
So you know miyagi sensei, not only as a karate teacher, but also on a personal level?
Yes, he didn't go out often to visit anyone's home. He really didn't like to. I think he was quite different in that sense from Higa sensei, who always visited his friends to chat. I suppose miyagi sensei often came to my home because he was a good friend of my father. I don't think he visited any other student's house at that time. I don't think he would have come as often if my father was not living with us.
You told me before that he often arrived at your home around noon and did not leave until well after midnight.
Ms. Toguchi: Yes, he came to our home around that time and stayed for quite some time. He like to talk with my father-in-law and my husband. Many times, the second son of Miyagi sensei would come to pick him up around midnight. and miyagi sensei often sent him home alone because the three of them were involved in a lively conversation. After his son would leave, the conversation would continue for quite some time. When miyagi sensei finally left, my husband always accompanied him to his house.
It was then that you were challenged?
No, it was not only then, I was always challenged when I was in the streets.
Ms Toguchi: Yes, he was always sought after.
I See. Bye the way, how did miyagi sensei teach karate?
Well, he was a very hard and strict teacher on techniques. Until you became proficient in one technique, he would never teach you more. Nowadays, you learn the sequence of the entire kata right away, but miyagi sensei taught it little bye little according to our progress.
We have a saying of "seven sanchin" or "three years sanchin". Did he really teach Sanchin for such a long time?
No he did not.
Is it just a saying?
Yes, he emphasized the importance of Sanchin, and taught it for a long period, but he did not teach only sanchin for 3 years.
Did he charge tuition?
Miyagi Sensei did not charge tuition, however, we would give him gifts at new year and "oban" (sp?) time.
As a sign of thanks?
Yes, however, Higa sensei charged tuition when he opened his dojo. that was a big difference between miyagi sensei and higa sensei. Miyagi sensei did not like the idea of taking money for teaching karate. He was very old type of bushi.
Miyagi sensei is famous for his strength. I heard many stories of his incredible powers, for example, it was said he could rip a chunk of raw beef off with his fingers, and peel a man's forearm skin off by grabbing him after being attacked. Have you heard stories like this?
I've heard these stories as well, but I don't know if they're true or not. Many said his nickname was Nikoteri Magusku, Nikoteri means "to rip meat off", and Magusku is Miyagi's name in the Okinawan dialect. I suppose, in order to emphasize how strong miyagi sensei was, these stories were circulated. It is said that he had thrusted his fingers into a bull's chest and ripped out flesh, but I believe it was yet, just like his nick name Nikoteri Magusku, just a nickname (?).
BTW, I have met many karate teachers if anyone who ever knew or studied with miyagi sensei treated (?) him as a great karate master. I would like to know your opinion.
Well, first of all, Higaonna sensei has several good disciples. miyagi sensei, however, was the only disciple who studied all the techniques and theories of Naha-Te from Higaonna sensei. Miyagi sensei even offered housing to his teacher in order to study everything. Higaonna had to offer much and miyagi sensei wanted to study everything possible. Miyagi sensei was the only one to study his teacher's art completely. Miyagi sensei was very very wealthy. Miyagi sensei was adopted as a child by a relative. His foster parents were extremely wealthy. They owned a lot of property in Naha City and several other places. Miyagi sensei inherited the entire fortune. That is why he did not need to get a normal type of job for a living. He could just enjoy study, practice and teach karate. It is said he ate himself out of house and home by just doing karate. Because of his fortune, he could offer Higaonna sensei housing and pay. Higaonna sensei was the chief instructor at the police academy and after his death, Miyagi Sensei took over that position.
What was Miyagi Sensei's greatest contribution?
Besides what I've already described, Miyagi sensei had created a new type of karate instructional method, by rearranging somewhat the karate he learned from Higaonna Sensei. The system included what we practice now in Shorei-kan, which includes warming-up exercises, Daruma Taiso, supplementary exercises, and two-man exercises: bunkai kumite and kiso kumite, ??? exercises and so on. His second major contribution was develop his karate to a modern-day physical education program. Thirdly, he was the one, really, to have karate recognized as an official Japanese martial art. This recognition was by the Butokukai. This recognition is comparable to the present-day acceptance of karate in the Olympics. Until Miyagi Sensei died, karate was... excuse me... until Miyagi Sensei did this, karate was not recognized at all. This was a great contribution to karate. About 1932 or 1933, Funakoshi Sensei was in Tokyo and Mabuni Sensei in Osaka with active dojos, but they did not pull (?) karate into the Butokukai. It was not until Miyagi Sensei came that the Butokukai recognized karate. Only after this recognition was karate finally taught in the universities.
He was a pioneer of karate, wasn't he?
Yes, for this contribution he was awarded the title of "Kyoshi" by the Butokukai. He was the first karate man ever to receive this title. Obviously, he was an exceptional karate master.
Nobody else promoted karate in this way?
No, as I said before, both Funakoshi Sensei and Mabuni Sensei were there, but they did not promote karate. Only Miyagi Sensei did this. It was not until Miyagi Sensei did this that karate was known to the public in mainland Japan. Although there were active dojos, it was not really known well by the general public. It was kept somewhat hidden. After this introduction, the founder of Judo, Sensei Jigoro Kano, came to study with Miyagi Sensei as well. Yes, Jigoro Kano made the exercise called Ko Bo Taiso.
Is that exercise based on Karate techniques taught by Miyagi Sensei?
Yes, Kano Sensei returned to Tokyo after studying with Miyagi Sensei and made this exercise, Ko Bo Taiso. Ko, meaning offense and Bo, meaning defence. This exercise that Jigoro Kano created from his studies with Miyagi Sensei was then added, officially, to the Judo curriculum.
There were several disciples of Higaonna Sensei besides Miyagi Sensei. Could you tell me who they were?
Well, of Higaonna's students, naturally there were many, but the more popular students, or well known, were people such as Seiko Higa, who was my first teacher, as I mentioned before. Also, Kaiso Habura (sp?) and Guskuma Kuuke (sp?), however, it seems really that only Miyagi Sensei was the only one to study everything. This enabled Miyagi Sensei to further develop karate. It was really because he could do it for his life's work, and devote all his time to it and he was able to further develop karate. I believe you must devote your life to do something really well.
What about kata Sanseiru and Kiyoda Sensei? I understand that the Sanseiru of Kiyoda Sensei is different from Miyagi Sensei?
Yes, that's correct. They were different. This was because Higaonna Sensei's instructional method worked that way. Higaonna Sensei would choose one student and make him an expert in one kata, such as Sanseiru. As you know, it takes many many years to perfect one kata.
Higaonna Sensei did not teach all the kata to any student but Miyagi Sensei?
That's correct. It would be almost impossible.
Meitoku Yagi Interview
Following is a rare interview with Meitoku Yagi (1912) held in 1989 by Paul Babladelis. In 1963 Meitoku Yagi, Chojun Miyagi (1888-1953) most senior student, was chosen by Miyagi's family to receive the Menkyo Kaiden (naming him official successor of Goju Ryu karate) along with his masters gi and obi. He began his training with Chojun Miyagi in 1926 at age 14.
Tatsuo Shimabuku trained with Chojun Miyagi for three years from 1936 till 1939. This following interview is very interesting regarding the answers about Chojun Miyagi's training methods and provides some insight in one of Tatsuo's teachers.
Interview Meitoku Yagi (Goju Ryu)
by Paul Babladelis. Ernest J. Estrada
The interview :
Interviewer: Sensei, can you please identify yourself.
Meitoku Yagi: My name is Meitoku Yagi. I was born March 6, 1912. I'm retired.
Interviewer: Sensei, what was it like to train with Chojun Miyagi?
Yagi: We did many, many repetitions of yobi undo drills, that's why Miyagi had so few regular students. (Yobi undo drills are basic conditioning exercises that can be extremely demanding. Master Yagi goes on to demonstrate several of the drills that were practiced in Miyagi's classes.) Each student would count for 100 repetitions of a single drill. Sometimes everyone would have to count for 1,000 repetitions. After a year or two most students would leave because there was easier training elsewhere.
Meitatsu Yagi: My father tells a story about how demanding training was. You know that to use a traditional Japanese toilet you have to squat. The students in Miyagi's classes were so sore that they had to hand a rope from up above in order to lower themselves to use the toilet and then pull themselves back up again.
Interviewer: Were you one of Miyagi's first students?
Yagi: Yes, but Miyagi already had some students when my grandfather took me there: Seko Higa, Genkai Nakaima, Azama, Sakiyama-san, maybe five or six in all. But all of these students only studied four kata: sanchin, seisan, seiunchin and tensho. These kata are called the kaishu forms but the kata seisan and seiunchin were actually considered the training kata of Goju-ryu. These are very important kata and must be thoroughly studied to understand Goju-ryu. When I was in the fourth year of junior high school, which would be the first year of high school now, Master Chojun Miyagi told me that he would begin teaching me all of the kata of Goju-ryu: kururunfa, seipai, shisochin, saifa, suparinpei. I was among the first to begin learning all of these kata, before that time Miyagi had not taught them.
Interviewer: Can you tell us about sanchin training.
Yagi: Sanchin training. Yes, in the early days many students came to Master Miyagi to train. He would train them very hard for three to five years before he taught the kata sanchin. Many of the students left before they even learned sanchin but if they stayed he then began to teach them kata sanchin. He would only teach them kata sanchin and this went on for two or three years. It was hard training. Many students left and went looking for another dojo.
Interviewer: What was your relationship to Gogen Yamaguchi?
Yagi: Before the twenty-fifth anniversary of the death of Chojun Miyagi, Gogen Yamaguchi and Kanki Izumigawa came to my dojo in Okinawa to receive instruction in kata. This was in March of 1978. Yamaguchi-sensei studied with Master Miyagi for a short period of time and represented him in mainland Japan. Izumigawa-sensei was a student of Seko Higa and began studying with Higa after the war. There was no training during the war. Izumigawa-sensei taught in Kawasaki City, Japan. Both wanted their kata to coincide with the Okinawan kata. When I used to go to Tokyo I would go to Gogen Yamaguchi's dojo and teach Okinawan Goju-ryu to his son and daughter. I should say that both have now past away but if you study in their respective dojo you can have confidence that you are learning the advanced methods of Goju-ryu.
Interviewer: What happened when the war came? It must have been difficult for Chojun Miyagi and you as well.
Yagi: During the war Chojun Miyagi went to the northern part of Okinawa. I went to another island which is part of the Ryukyuan chain. There was no karate training during the war.
Interviewer: Where did Master Miyagi teach after the war?
Yagi: Master Miyagi taught at his home, outside in his yard. He would occasionally go to the Butoku-den in Naha (The Butoku-den was one of the few buildings that survived the World War II conflict on Okinawa. Naha's Central Police buildings were rebuilt near the Butoku-den which was eventually torn down in the late l980's. A bronze bust of Chojun Miyagi was put up in the Butoku-den and remained there until it was torn down.) But he didn't teach regularly outside his own personal students.
Interviewer: I understand you have Master Miyagi's belt and uniform?
Yagi: Yes, the Miyagi family decided on presenting to me the uniform and belt of the Master. After Master Miyagi passed away his family members had a meeting to decide who should be his successor. They made their decision and formally presented the Master's belt and uniform to me. I displayed the uniform and belt at the 33rd Anniversary Demonstration.
Meitatsu Yagi: The belt and uniform both are embroidered with "Miyagi Shihan." It was a treasure of the Miyagi family and it was given to my father by the Miyagi family.
Interviewer: At your Meibukan School you have introduced some new kata. Can you tell me about these kata?
Yagi: I introduced the kata Tenchi in 1985. All together I plan on introducing four new kata into the Goju-ryu system. Each one will represent a direction of the compass and this will be my contribution to Goju-ryu. In the old days Master Miyagi often taught in two ways. One, the beginners way, was with no understanding of what they were learning. And last, for the advanced student, was a complete understanding of what they had learned. He would very rarely give insights or meaning to the kata that he taught until the student showed mastery of the form through hard and consistent training.
Interviewer: Can you tell us about Master Miyagi's family.
Yagi: Yes, Master Miyagi had four boys and five girls. Tsuru was the oldest daughter and first born. She was a classmate of mine in school.
Interviewer: Did Master Miyagi award you your black belt?
Yagi: Miyagi never awarded anyone a black belt. He was in the process of formulating requirements for the black belt but he died before he completed this.
Meitatsu Yagi: But Master Yagi did receive the actual belt worn by Chojun Miyagi. So, you can say that it was the first and only black belt given by the family of Chojun Miyagi. Everyone in Okinawa knows this and accepts the fact that Master Meitoku Yagi in the heir of Master Chojun Miyagi.
Interviewer: What does the future hold for Goju-ryu?
Yagi: When Chojun Miyagi taught karate he taught all students the beginners way. He had very few advanced students but many came and learned the beginners way. After a period of time, these students left but only with the beginners way of doing things. It is my responsibility as senior to teach the advanced way to the world. This is my future and my intention. Goju-ryu is now world wide. These methods must then be passed on world wide.