An’ichi Miyagi was a student of Chojun Miyagi, the actual founder of Okinawan Goju- Ryu karate.
An’ichi Miyagi was born in Naha, Okinawa, on 9 February, 1931. He lost both his parents during the Second World War, and he was the only one to support his two younger brothers. The three brothers were living in the Daido area, a mere five-minute walk away from Chojun Miyagi’s home. An’ichi landed a job on the Kaneda military base. An’ichi heard about the Sensei from his friend and a co-worker, Kaho Tokeshi who was originally from the Kumejima island. The two friends decided to pay Chojun Miyagi Sensei a visit so that he could allow them to become his students. Later An’ichi invited two more friends, and they started training in a group of four. An’ichi’s first karate lesson was on 1 February 1948.
The lessons were taking place at the Sensei’s home while the students were newbies. Later they moved to the legendary Garden Dojo. The four students were feeling nervous in the beginning. One of the Sensei’s first instructions was to quit smoking. Once this was done, Chojun Miyagi Sensei began to teach them Junbi Undo. Sensei told them that those exercises were aimed at developing power, improving health and that they enabled to perform kata very easily.
An’ichi Miyagi recalled how the Sensei often said: “You must be very persistent. If you do everything the right way, you’ll master the technique of leg and hand kicking. The movements that you are learning will let you perform kata easier. You must learn incredibly hard”.
Later they were taught Hojo Undo (exercises with objects). While teaching chi’shi Chojun Miyagi Sensei explained the importance of harmonizing breath and movements. He was attentive to each and every detail again. Hojo Undo was followed by exercises for developing physical power. Only when the important skills were gained in Basic training, they proceeded to Gekisai dai ichi.
Chojun Miyagi Sensei always prioritized Hojo Undo and Sanchin kata.
The Chojun Miyagi’s training system underwent serious changes after the war. This happened due to the fact that he lost very many people who were close to him. Meanwhile, his own life was in danger, but he survived to pass his karate knowledge on to the next generation. Chojun Miyagi Sensei decided that Goju-Ryu must be preserved, safe and sound, as a unique cultural treasure of the small Okinawa island. All this was said to one of his students, An’ichi Miyagi.
Chojun Miyagi Sensei sometimes compared his teaching method to sharpening a pencil: first, you need to make a sharp cut. Then you carefully smooth the angles until they become rounded, and the stem becomes as sharp as an edge.
The four friends were training for one year. However, An’ichi Miyagi started the second year as the only student.
Chojun Miyagi Sensei once said to An’ichi: “Come at six o’clock after work tomorrow”. The next day he came a little earlier. “You are in time!” – exclaimed the Sensei. He told An’ichi to clean the garden and to prepare the training equipment.
The obedient student pulled out weed and picked up the smallest stones from the ground. The Sensei checked the place very carefully. An’ichi was sure he had done the task well, but Chojun Miyagi found one grass blade which was left. An’ichi said that he had thought the grass had been too small to bother him during the lesson. But the Sensei remarked: “Even a blade will once grow high”.
After the lesson, An’ichi was asked to come earlier the next day, which would be Sunday. He turned up at 8 a.m. Chojun Miyagi made him pull heavy stones.
An’ichi Miyagi reflected on his memories later: “When I think of the Sensei, I understand that he was observing my character. He gave me difficult tasks so that I could assess the punctuality, conscientiousness, initiative, and obedience of a student; so that I could determine the attitude with which a student was executing “slavish” instructions. The Sensei was studying his student’s personality in order to see if he was good enough for karate”.
An’ichi tried to pay for his lessons, but the Sensei never accepted money from his students. Although An’ichi brought him fresh and canned foodstuff from the military base.
Chojun Miyagi was concerned about the courage loss of the Okinawan people during the hardest post-war years. He stated that it was important to preserve will-power. One must train a lot to be able to survive.
There was a lack of food. The Sensei and the student went to the mountains where the gathered edible herbs.
Chojun Miyagi was a strict man. He once asked a relative over to his dojo. They were sitting together and observing students during a lesson. Suddenly the Sensei grabbed a pillow from under his relative; the guest nearly fell down. He left the Sensei’s dojo without a protest. It turned out that Chojun Miyagi felt the smell of alcohol. He couldn’t stand it.
Chojun Miyagi was using a bamboo stick to check An’ichi’s posture and positions, measuring the distance between his feet, the arm angles, the knees and so on. He also touched the spine to make sure the posture was correct. The Sensei said that performing the kata should start from tanden (the place below the belly-button). He always referred to it as the source of force. On the other hand, he was a funny man. An’ichi recalled how impatiently he was waiting for every tea time. It was the time when the Sensei was telling funny stories and was joking a lot. Chojun Miyagi continued training An’ichi . After another year, the student proceeded to Sanchin kata.
After lessons the Sensei and the Student would often visit public bath-houses. By tradition, An’ichi would rub his Sensei’s back. His back muscles were so strong and stretched that An’ichi was unable to squeeze the skin. Chojun Miyagi would laugh and explain that the ideal karate body must have muscles, which were strongly stretched. There should be a thin fat layer rolling over the muscles. He added that the muscles must be like a ball that was slightly blown down- not too soft, not too hard.
Chojun Miyagi showed how to determine the ideal karate body type during Shime lessons. “If there isn’t enough muscle mass while there’s more fat than needed, your arms will “sink” into your body during a kick. By contrast, the right balance will allow the arms to kick off”.
The Sensei was never tired to repeat that “Sanchin is the base of Goju-Ryu, you must practice it every single day”.
Chojun Miyagi would always stand near An’ichi during their lessons; he would not take his eyes off the student. Not for a second. When An’ichi performed kata very well, the Sensei could praise him by saying: “It wasn’t bad today”.
An’ichi made himself work even harder because of unsatisfaction in his own progress. He explained this by saying “Despite my lack of power, I kept on training every day absorbing the theory. And I continued to practice with enthusiasm”.
Chojun Miyagi said: “Compared to those boys who started training with you, you were the weakest and the smallest. I thought you would be the first to quit , but you proved me wrong. You are doing very well”.
1 / 2 /3 An’ichi Miyagi is practicing Makiwara technique
Chojun Miyagi was teaching groups at a police academy three times a week, while he was teaching An’ichi at his home every day. He once said: “Teaching you is way more exhausting than the entire academy class”. The young and naïve An’ichi asked him: “ I work my socks off and I train hard. Why are you tired?”. The Sensei replied: “At the police academy, I teach a big group, but all I do is count. When I teach you, I work all the time to show you exercises and to correct your techniques. When I see your movements which you haven’t learnt very well, I get upset and I worry. This is why I get tired.
By the end of his life, the Sensei realized that he needed to pass his Goju-Ryu knowledge down to an inheritor. As the closest and the most devoted student, An’ichi received everything that the Sensei could only offer him.
Chojun Miyagi gave special instructions to An’ichi: “Don’t focus only on Sanchin as in the good old times. You must also pay attention to Kaishugata”.
Chonju Miyagi also taught An’ichi bunkai kata in every detail. Having taught him the secret Goju-Ryu techniques, he said: “ You must train hard and cherish all that I shared with you”.
An’ichi considered the Sensei’s wisdom to be very deep. “Sensei Miyagi told me that science and technology would develop rapidly in this century. He also said that karate would spread all over the world. He explained to me that along with the fast development of technology, spiritual education must be given through training the spirit. Karate fits in perfectly here”.
Chojun Miyagi spoke about Zen and other deep philosophic topics. For example, he spoke about the harmony of nature: “The sky, the ground and karate are one unit”. He added: “Understanding the Chinese calendar is highly important when we learn how to fight the enemy. Just like the Sun rises and sets, just like the ocean has high tide and low tide, the human body has its own cycles. The knowledge of relations between time of day and the movement of important body points is always useful”.
The Sensei explained to An’ichi: “Karate athletes need a lot of protein. If someone doesn’t eat meat or fish, they can reach balance by eating a lot of green vegetables and beans”. Although Calcium was needed for strong bones, An’ichi was instructed to drink milk every day as well as to eat fish and seaweed. Chojun Miyagi said that in order to strengthen feet tendon, one must eat tendon from pork and beef.
One of the most important statements addressed to An’ichi was : “Once your temper is lost, hide your hands. If your hands raise, keep your cool”.The Sensei explained to An’ichi: “Karate athletes need a lot of protein. If someone doesn’t eat meat or fish, they can reach balance by eating a lot of green vegetables and beans”. Although Calcium was needed for strong bones, An’ichi was instructed to drink milk every day as well as to eat fish and seaweed. Chojun Miyagi said that in order to strengthen feet tendon, one must eat tendon from pork and beef.
A man lives as long as the memory of him does. Among all the Chojun Miyagi’s students, the biggest non-exaggerated role in developing Goju-Ryu belongs to An’ichi Miyagi, his last student and adopted son. High morality and culture of behavior, his name is historically written in golden letters. He lived his life creatively with full dedication to other people.
As a matter of rule, the human life stops like a song. An’ichi Miyagi has left his trace on the Earth in the hearts and souls of his students.The name An’ichi Miyagi became the Okinawan symbol of true devotion to the chosen work, the symbol of loyalty and calling.
“The road of life – do (way). It’s different for everyone. You need to make it decently and honestly. Searching for the truth is the simple human happiness” – this is what we were taught by the genius An’ichi Miyagi.
He taught us to think, to feel, to see people, to analize and to make deductions.
An’ichi Miyagi had several students. Among them there was Morio Higaonna Sensei, Kamimura, Kato and Filimonov (from Russia). Only two students became the official Goju-Ryu inheritors chosen by An’ichi Miyagi. They were Kato Tomayuki (Japan) and Alexander Filimonov (Russia); An’ichi Miyagi personally handed the official legal document to them. The document was officially stamped and signed by the Japanese government proving that Kato Tomayuki and Alexander Filimonov inherited An’ichi Miyagi’s studies and wealth of knowledge.
An’ichi Miyagi unexpectedly passed away at 3:00 am on 28 April 2009 in the result of a heart attack at the age of 79. The funeral ceremony took place on 30 April (Thursday) between 4 and 5 p.m. (Naha city, Takakari, 3-22, 200 meters left from the “Furudzima” road junction).
An’ichi Miyagi’s address: Naha city, Sangen, 2-20-7, Mihara street, Asato area.
The funeral ceremony was held in the presence of:
Close relatives and family members:
Spouse – Miyagi Toyoko
Son – Miyagi Massaro
Daughter – Fuzita Makiko
Son-in-law – Fuzita Tetsuo
Granddaughter — Fuzita Mokiko
Granddaughter – Fuzita Suyako
Younger brother – Miyagi Mitsuhisa
Younger brother- Miyagi Isamu
Younger sister – Osiro Kazdumi
Younger brother – Tokasiki Masataka
Younger brother – Tokasiki Masahide
Family member – An’ichi Miyagi’s student – Kato Tomayuki (Japan)
Family member – An’ichi Miyagi’s student- Alexander Filimonov (Russia)
Chojun Miyagi’s student:
Suiti Aragaki (An’ichi Miyagi’s best friend)
An’ichi Miyagi’s students:
Kamimura, Morio Higaonna
Kosei Vakogawa (10 dan), student Miazato Ichi
The funeral ceremony was organized by the head of I.O.G.K.F. (International Okinawan Goju-Ryu Karate-do Federation), Morio Higaonna.
Today An’ichi Miyagi’s study is in safe hands. Alexander Filimonov has opened an international Dojo in Russia. It is named after the Sensei. Address: Russia, Moscow, Danilovskaya Naberezhnaya, 2 (building 4), postal code 115114, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tel. (dojo): 8(499) 235 40 11
The official document which was stamped and signed by the Japanese government and handed to Alexander Filimonov in the Russian Embassy (Japan).