YOCHOKU HIGA (1910-1994) Born at Naha City Okinawa, he was described as a weak child that was often a victim of bullying. His concerned and well connected grandfather sent him to study with Gichin Funakoshi and Chojun Miyagi, but being too young he was unfortunately ill prepared for the austerity required.
A little later as a teenager he began to study under Shuri-te Master Jiro Shiroma who was a senior student of Higa’s Father, a customary practice with Karate families. In 1934 he studied Naha-te with Jinan Shinzato, senior student of Chojun Miyagi and in 1948 began studying with his last Teacher Chosin Chiban. In 1965 he was graded to 9th dan, then he created his Dojo called Kyudokan, derived from the Okinawan word Kyudo Mugen meaning “the infinite search for truth through the study of Karate”. His fame quickly spread thoughout Okinawa and Japan, giving him the nickname “the strong fist of Okinawa.”
He served as President of All Okinawan Karate Federation and was awarded 10th Dan in 1976 for his lifetime contribution to Karate.
Master Higa loved to train outdoors and often stated his most important training was done under the moonlight in his garden, “it is here amongst nature you understand and appreciate the value and beauty of Karate”.
The mottos of Kyudokan, Master Yuchoku Higa’s karate dojo, are as follows.
– Avoid fighting or quarreling.
– Respect your elders and nurture your young people.
– Morality and good manners in a Karate dojo will have an influence on the community.
Master Higa believed traditional Karate was dangerous and in a real fight serious injury or even death is possible. Thus deeming it unsuitable for competition. Famous for his makiwara (strike post) training, he could break the pad of the makiwara by striking the corners and then centre, he was also known to break the makiwara on the rebound at will, this involved unique punching skills.
“There is no end to mastering Karate. If we seek the Truth, the path towards the Truth will become distant”.
There have been several other influences that do need to be acknowledged. Great Masters Feng Zhiqiang, Zhu Tian Cai and Chen Xiaowang were instrumental in fulfilling Ohtsuka Sensei’s passion for Chen Style Tai Chi Chuan. Ohtsuka Sensei also admired Wang Shu Chin, who spent five years in Tokyo sharing his expertise in Ba Gua Zhang and Hsing I Chuan out of the Chen Pan Ling School. Tadahiko Ohtsuka had a photographic memory giving him an uncanny ability to learn movements and techniques with unbelievable speed and retention. Even with a glance or in conversation he could link up congruent movements from different styles, recognize a common theme, and blend his own existing knowledge, skill and insights to present the world with Goju Kensha.
“To truly master Karate one must embody the entire philosophy, without a strong and virtuous mind the body is useless”. – Tadahiko Ohtsuka (1940 – 2012)