Моrio Higaonna - Окinawan tiger

Okinawa karate-do, or it is more correct, karate-jutsu, once was the killing weapon of islands Ryukyu. Then it have named "pugnacious" game and, at last, it became a modern kind of sports. But, fortunately, today mоdernists recede into the background, traditional karate it is again popular, and thirsting pupils are knocked on doors of the present masters.

Сенсей Морио ХигаоннаSports karate still exists, but people need something greater - they need the present in karate. Our story will go about Мorio Higaonna, the leader for today the representative оkinawa goju-ryu in the world. Моrio Higaonna - the silent, constrained person who was be an example for the pupils of morals, huge working capacity and staunch fighting spirit. All life it has given karate, training on 8-10 hours per day, constantly improving and raising a level of fighting skill. It is especially surprising, that, despite of advanced age (today to it 64 years), sensei Higaonna grows not only as the teacher, but also as the master, as the fighter. Two indicative performances which were especially remembered: in 1991 in Alma-Ata and in 1995 in Moscow. Becoming more senior for four years, the sensei not only became more plastically, more softly, but also is more powerful and that is absolutely not clear, even more quickly, than earlier.

So, Моrio Higaonna was born on December, 25th, 1938 in a Naha, capital of island Okinawa. Till 14 years he was the most undisciplined child in district. Моrio did not like to go to school and all time spent at ocean, floating, diving, hours going for a drive on surfing. On the rests of salt on a leather, the father easily guessed where there was a son and, being the person strict and even severe, each time severely punished Моrio. Accustoming the son to discipline, forced him to carry up to exhaustion on the extended hands lifted up to a level of shoulders, the buckets full of water. Nevertheless, Моrio till now with excitement recollects evenings when he was authorized to observe from a corner of a garden of trainings of the father. The Higaonna-father has achieved greater successes in development of style Shorin-ryu. He often invited some close friends to himself, and they together trained till the late evening. In the end of one of trainings the father has suggested Моrio to join it. He never liked to train and consequently has learned the son only to several technics: Fist and the legs, practised on makiwara.

In the age of 14 years Higaonna start to practice karate under direction of Tsunetaka Simabukuru which was more senior Моrio for 2 years began to be engaged seriously, was engaged shorin-ryu from 6 years and possessed in this style greater knowledge. Shorin-ryu and Goju-ryu - two directions most widespread by Okinawa in karate. Comparing them, okinawans speak: " shorin-ryu - refined and beautiful karate, and goju-ryu - complex and difficult ". At that time Higaonna still very badly knew goju-ryu and considered this school rather remote. It believed, that shorin-ryu to it completely approaches, and by the unique purpose was to be compared to the Teacher ease and boldness with which admired. It is necessary to notice, that school results of the guy for this time have considerably improved. And at last day when it from the last became the first has come. Моrio its Teacher who never left books recollects, that, indefatigably repeated to it: " To forget about one to the detriment of another - means to follow a wrong way. To study and be engaged in karate - here a true way ".

In 1952 Simabukuro has started to train under direction of master Chojun Miyagi. Trainings passed in a garden, behind the high fence hiding them from extraneous eyes. At that time Simabukuro tried to interest Higaonna in new style, but these attempts were vain. As it was already spoken, goju-ryu on Okinawa is considered very difficult style. Heavy training is directed only to development of fighting energies engaged, without care of grace and estetism. Young men were frightened with severity of Chojun Miyagi, and they were afraid to visit trainings in his garden.

Сенсей Морио ХигаоннаPer 1954 16-years Higaonna has decided to get into a mysterious garden. This step also became his present beginning in karate. Моrio has been shocked by sensation huge which proceeded from everyone engaged. One of them Аnichi Мiyagi, has surprised it more the others: his force and speed were improbable! This person became Higaonnas’ teacher and here about 50 years transfers the pupil that huge stock of knowledge which were saved up by ancient masters. Direct partner Morio on trainings was Saburo the Hit which was engaged goju-ryu more than 10 years and was known as very strong fighter. Hands of Saburo were strong as steel. Hours they repeated the base exercises including various kinds kihon-kumite, exercises on reaction and stuffing of a body. During free sparring (iri kumi) Saburo did not supervise the impacts. In current of training each of them should keep sensation of the present battle. Direct impacts of sempai could not be blocked the senior pupil, so they were lightning and strong. Only in 2 years young Higaonna has learned to reflect these impacts. However still long and not time to it was necessary to suffer from the passed impacts. Sensei Higaonna told, that for the first 6 years of training of its edge have been broken many times and some traumas were so serious, that from a throat there was a blood. In many respects owing to the Teacher who possessed greater knowledge of traditional medicine, Моrio recovered quickly enough. It is characteristic, that for this time he has not passed any training. Even exhausted trained with each partner in dojo, repeating kаta to exhaustion. Because of the persistence adjoining on fanaticism, and the staunch will power shown in duels, has received a nickname "Kаdzya".

On island Okinawa where fighting traditions have the deepest roots where each inhabitant is an expert to karate, this nickname is very honourable. Kаdzya is the one who never surrenders.

Trainings began always with the preparatory exercises continuing of 2-3 hours. They were contribution Chojun Miyagi in goju-ryu. Miyagi studied and systematized them during many years. Each of them accustomed a movement engaged to correct fighting culture, developing the necessary principle, simultaneously improving high-speed qualities, and, at last, any of these exercises it is possible to apply as concrete fighting reception. We shall tell, exercise ten-tzuki (impact in the sky) is a correct movement of a body at performance of any technics directed upwards: hijiate, age uke, аge tzuki, and also any jerk directed to (for a hand, hair, a throat, etc.).

Сенсей Морио ХигаоннаCarefully practising tan tzuki, engaged it is accustomed to use in any impact or jerk all body, especially bringing the to a focus to muscles of legs, waists and backs. Concrete fighting application of this movement is very extensive, from impact shotei age tzuki (ascending impact by a heel of a palm) and up to washide-learn (impact-jerk by fingers on the person of the opponent). Emphasizing importance of preparatory exercises, Мiyagi insisted on that pupils gave them as much to time, how many and to performance kаta.

Besides the important place was allocated to special exercises goju ryu. In training the various shells, called to develop specific force were used: chishi (булава), nigiri game(heavy jugs), kоngo ken (a metal oval in weight from 40 up to 100 kg.), ishi sashi (stone dumbbells), all more than 15 various adaptations. Each subject served for working off of this or that technics, developing force, endurance and kime. The base technics and free duels repeated regularly. After performance of all -the described exercises, master Anichi gave special exercises for brushes and forearms up to full numbness of hands. Then passed to Sanchin kata for which correct performance greater physical and spiritual force was required. Master Anichi checked correctness of performance by pupils Sanchin kata, striking blows on the vital bodies of a body during its execution. Thus it was convinced itself and convinced the pupils of correctness of a position and power concentration of a body. Training came to the end free sparring, what (near fight). In this exercise because of close contact between partners it is necessary to be able all: To evade, block, strike blows, to accept their case, and also to have the special "sixth" feeling, allowing to be guided in a duel without the help of eyes.

Higaonna came back home improbably tired; his body and the person has been covered by bruises and grazes, and often it could not even raise a hand. At that time he trained for 10 hours per day. After training in school club went aside houses Chojun Miyagi, always came the first, swept the ground, deleting the smallest rocks, and prepared for weights.

Sometimes after these works widow Chojun Miyagi invited him to tea and fruit, and during conversations often repeated two things: " to reach greater results in karate it is impossible neither to drink, nor to smoke " and still: " Observe closely of master Anichi, in fact my husband spent the most part of time with it ".

All six years preceded death Chojun Miyagi, Аnichi have been devoted to the Teacher. Trainings passed all day long and when the young man was left with last forces, the instructor learned to restore them. Chojun used these minutes rest for transfer to the pupil of the knowledge and wisdom. Sometimes Аnichi noticed to the Teacher, that they already discussed the given theme, but Chojun answered it: " Both in kаrate, and in a life it is necessary to come back many times to the same really to understand ". He was able to speak so, that behind conversation time flew by imperceptibly, to a plenty, the instructor and the pupil sat up up to the first cocks.

... Having some pupils, Аnichi the most part of time gives to Higaonna, transferring him everything, that has learned from Chojun Miyagi. In 1957 Morio Higaonna has passed examination for a black belt, at once having received III it is given. For last 30 years, it the only thing has sustained ancient оkinawan  test for skill. The fighting marathon began with special exercises with weights, then hundreds impacts on mаkiwara, base technics, kаta, again base technics, mаkiwara and so without interruption within 24 hours. In last 3 hours - duels with continuously varying partners.

Modern masterful examination lasts about 14 hours and, probably, Моrio Higaonna was one of last fighters who have successfully sustained traditional оkinawa the test level with great masters of an antiquity. Not stopping on reached,Higaonna continues the persistent employment, bringing to a focus to statement of impact on mаkiwara. For one training he puts some thousand impacts on a shell. Sensei told, that sometimes he beat on mаkiwara without a stop for six hours on end and stopped employment only when felt strong feeling of famine. Incessant trainings have not passed gift and soon, impact of sensei Higaonna became same known and well-known on Okinawa, as the trade mark of firm " Adidas " in the Europe.

Додзе сенсея Морио ХигаоннаSensei Higaonna practised karate not only in the dojo. Often he visited other halls, sparring with the strongest karatekas. One of them was Маtayesi Simoyasi.

Hands of Маtayesi have been covered by tattooes (speaking about its accessory to a criminal grouping "Yakuza"). It was known enough karate-
kа of Japan; about his life even film has been removed. He very confidently felt in irikumi (free fight in the widest sense of this word). In duel between Higaonna and Simoyesi all was as in the present fight - any hint on the control, all impacts have been resolved.

Matayesi considerably surpassed Higaonna in weight (a difference about 30 kg), therefore used the slightest opportunity to seize it by a kimono. At times to separate them it was possible only Аnichi Miyagi which noticed, that they are more similar to fighting cocks, rather than on karatekas full of advantage. Fighters missed, covered by bruises and wounds, with the stained with blood persons and the broken edges.

In the age of 22 years Higaonna has decided to go to Tokyo. Except for desire to inform goju-ryu up to Tokyo people, the reason of his departure was as well that Teacher Anichi Miyagi shortly before he has left island. Having arrived per 1960 in Tokyo, Higaonna has appeared in perfect other world. He has been stunned by ignorance of Japanese, many of which considered karate by traditional Japanese fighting art, at all not suspecting about the true native land of " an empty hand " to Okinawa. Besides the dialect on which speak on island, strongly differs from language of other Japan. And alongside with financial it was additional difficulty with which has collided young Higaonna.

As before, it is a lot of time gave trainings, especially with master Eiti who was more known as the judoist. Together they fulfilled exercise what (the basic pair exercise goju-ryu developing sensitivity of a body and allowing to fulfil practically any traditional technics in near fight). As partner Morio was much heavier (95 against 60 kg) and had huge experience in judo, it was necessary to give a lot of time to special forms of training. Each time when Еiti tried to seize or throw Higaonna, that opposed him with capture for a throat, a groin or other technics of goju-ryu.

With pupils sensei Higaonna spent the first employment directly in a hostel of university Takusoku where at that time studied. Gradually his popularity began to grow, and the quantity of pupils for some university dojo became critical (more than 1000 men.). Higaonna, having accepted the invitation of the dojo owner  Shorin-ryu style, has moved on a constant place to Tokyo his area. So was born well-known dojo His Syurenkai which became the center of teaching goju-ryu. Okinawa has recognized as its best goju-ryu dojo in the world.

After leaving last pupil from hall Higaonna there was one and continued to train, fulfilling technics for brushes and impacts by legs. The life in Tokyo not always was smooth and, trying to solve personal problems, Higaonna the Zen addresses to the doctrine, knowing, that many masters Ken-jutsu reached the certain successes. He considered, that the Zen will help also to it. The teacher became monk Sakiyama, the native from Okinawa, once engaged goju-ryu. Моrio recollected, how in cold months of winter meditated within five hours per a temple where there was no heating. On much tried to ask the Teacher, but the monk answered only: " Read sutra and meditate ". Three years lead in studying the Zen, have not given desirable result. Higaonna has understood, that this way will not help him neither to resolve internal conflicts, nor to reach perfection in karate.

Higaonna regards the Zen as training of spirit while karate is a training of a mind and body simultaneously. The master has come to conclusion, that only more strengthened employment in goju-ryu, will help to understand deep sense of this art and to cope with the arisen personal difficulties.

Занятия с сенсеем Морио ХигаоннаAmong coming to Мorio in dojo, was a lot of such who challenged to it. To fights did not precede any prevention, however he was always ready to a duel. Consequence of the serious attitude to employment was change of behaviour Higaonna. He began to radiate special force, the sight became close, cold and same empty, as a sight of the furious tiger. Witnesses recollect, that the person of the master before fight became such, that from one sight at it threw in a shiver.

The new stage in development goju-ryu has begun in 90th years. Higaonna constantly goes, learns and trains in all ends of the world, including in the CIS countries. Fortunately, and now his trainings as are long and serious, as well as in a youth. Such self-feedback and fidelity kаrate on advantage has been estimated nowadays by the late Don Dragger had the big authority among experts on fighting arts. Here is how he has responded about Higaonna, the strongest, in his opinion, the karateka of Japan: " Those constant calls which it throws to himself, this unexpected kаrate, and the highest level of knowledge does by its outstanding person. Traditional goju-ryu today strongly costs on legs, because its trustee - a tiger on behalf of greater cats of fighting arts ".

Now I trust in words about creation of the world " Yes, at that time there were giants on the ground ". I know is a truth: I saw one of them.

Victor Panasiuc,
Chief-instructor IOGKF in The Republic of Moldova

© 2009-2012 Okinawan Goju-ryu Karate-do Association of Moldova. All rights reserved.