MASTER YUCHOKU HIGA PRACTICE KARATE IN THE MOONLIGHT
Remarks: Original Japanese title "Kyudo Mugen: Karate No Michi" Written by a reporter of the monthly magazine "Aoi Umi" February 1978 issue (No.70) published by Aoi Umi Shuppansha (pages 96-97).
Translated by Sanzinsoo
"Very rhythmical and beautiful movement!" praised a musician from outside Okinawa when he saw a performance of Shorin-ryu karate in Okinawa. It is natural that the musician was impressed, as the characteristic of Kata in Shorin-ryu has not only fighting element but also esthetic element. It has power in the graceful and fluid movement, but we cannot see it by appearances. It is said that Shorin-ryu is rather an aggressive karate, although its movement is soft and gentle. They attack the opponents like dancing. Shorin-ryu has similarity to Okinawan traditional dance in its positioning of waist, movement of hands and footwork. That is why some Okinawan traditional dancers come to the dojo to study karate.
"Yes, like this. You raise your hand. And lower it. You do it fast. You do it slowly." said Mr. Yuchoku Higa. If you add rhythm to Kata of karate, it will become an Okinawan traditional dance.
Master Yuchoku Higa is the chief instructor of "Kyudokan", a karate dojo of Shorin-ryu. He has a strong physique as a warrior because he has been training in karate for a long time. But when he was a boy, he was skinny and had a weak constitution. Higa’s grandfather was worried about his delicate grandson, so he took his grandson to the home of Master Gichin Funakoshi, his cousin, and made Higa stay with Funakoshi’s family. The grandfather hoped that Higa learn karate from Master Funakoshi, and at the same time Master Funakoshi help his grandson with his studies. At that time Master Funakoshi worked as a teacher at school. Four days later, Higa who was in the fourth grade of elementary school, escaped from Master Funakoshi’s home and went back to his home. He was very afraid and felt lonely when he lived apart from his family. However, the grandfather could not give up his idea, so he tried again when Higa was in the sixth grade of elementary school. This time he took his grandson to the home of Master Chojun Miyagi, the founder of Goju-ryu karate. But again Higa escaped from Master Chojun Miyagi’s home. He said to his grandfather, "Please, please do not force me to learn karate!" Eventually the grandfather gave up and never took him to any karate masters.
When Higa was a student of Naha Commercial High School at age 16, he became willing to learn karate. He was physically weak, skinny and pale. He also had a slight stoop. Moreover, he was a bookworm. He liked reading books very much. Higa was an easy target to bully. He was being bullied at school, so he became reluctant to go to school. He felt so depressed that he even thought of trying to kill himself. But he changed his mind. He thought he could die at any time. "I will revenge someday!" said Higa to himself. So he decided and began learning karate.
"The motive for learning karate was not pure at all. I was just thinking I would revenge the bullies someday in the future. Ha ha ha!" said Higa with laughing. He first learned karate from Master Jiro Shiroma of Shuri-te style. And later, he also learned from Master Jin-an Shinzato (Naha-te style), Master Seiei Miyara (Shuri-te style) and Master Choshin Chibana (Shuri-te style). Master Jiro Shiroma always said, "Don’t talk about karate. Don’t demonstrate karate." He warned us that we tended to show off our strength if we learned karate.
Anyway he started practicing karate with "not-pure motive", but his perspective on karate was changing through training in karate. When he was 26 years old, he devoted himself to practicing karate with the policy, "Best defense is offense or attack." But nowadays he runs away in a hurry if a drunken man annoys him. It is a win without fighting. One day Higa’s friend saw Higa annoyed by a drunken man. Higa ran away in a hurry from a drunken man without fighting. Some days later Higa’s friend told Higa, "At that time I thought I could see the real fight by the karate master." Higa said to him, "I know I could defeat him if I fought, so I ran away. I won the fight as I ran away. My opponent must have thought he won the fight as I ran away. Both of us thought we won, so no problem. It’s all right." That is exactly a win without fighting.
The mottos of Kyudokan, Master Yuchoku Higa’s karate dojo, are as follows.
(1) Avoid fighting or quarreling.
(2) Respect your elders and take care of your youngers.
(3) Morality and good manners at karate dojo will have an influence on the community.
The number of students who have practiced at Kyudokan exceeds ten thousand. Currently about 40 students are practicing karate at Kyudokan. Last year (= 1977) Master Yuchoku Higa went to Argentine at the invitation of Argentine branch of Kyudokan. There are 51 dojos affiliated with Kydokan and about 5,800 students in Argentine. In February and April of this year (= 1978), the disciples of Master Higa will go to Peru and Brazil to open karate dojos.
In 1972, a beautiful building of karate dojo was built for Master Higa by his supporters. However, Master Higa himself thinks a dojo is not necessary for practicing karate. He said, "Before the dojo was built, I practiced karate at the yard or garden of my home. There were Gajimaru (= a banyan tree) and Sakura (= cherry blossoms) in my yard or garden. I loved practicing karate there under the moonlight. I think if we practice karate at the place surrounded by the beauties of nature, melted in nature, we can see a wonderful value of karate and understand karate better."
He also criticizes a karate tournament or karate as a sport. Master Higa said, "It is not a karate if you stop your punch before contact. But if you really fight, injury or worse than injury is inevitable. Essentially karate is not fit for a tournament. It is impossible to make karate a tournament sport."
"Kyudo Mugen." (= Studying karate and searching for the Truth is infinite.) It is a word from Master Yuchoku Higa who has been training in karate for more than fifty years. The name of his dojo, "Kyudokan" is derived from this word. There is no end for mastering karate. If we seek the Truth, the path toward the Truth will become distant.