SENSEI MEITOKU YAGI
Remarks: written by a reporter of the monthly magazine "Aoi Umi" Feb. 1978 issue.
(translated by Sanzinsoo)
"I don't like talking about karate" said Mr. Meitoku Yagi. It means he does not like talking on how you can defeat an opponent by technique like this or how you can win by karate and so on. It is also one of the teachings of his master, Chojun Miyagi. They say that Miyagi Sensei has no story of actual karate feat in battle.
Every karateka whose hands and feet can be used as a sword should remember what Mr. Yagi means.
Meitoku Yagi, the chief instructor of "Meibukan" Gojuryu karate, was born in 1912 in Kumemura, Naha, Okinawa where he lives now. He was not a strong boy, although he was not weak.
On recommendation of his grand father, Noko, Mr. Yagi began learning karate at the age of 13 when he had passed the entrance examination of Okinawa Prefetural Second Middle School.
In old days in Okinawa, men used to learn "Te" (= karate). His grand father took him to Miyagi Sensei's home. "I really ask you to teach karate to my grand son, as he is descended from Jana Oyakata." said the grand father to Miyagi Sensei.
*translatorfs note: Jana Oyakata was the highest rank general of Ryukyu Kingdom (= now Okinawa) when King Shonei ruled. He fought most strongly against a Japanese invasion when Shimazu Clan, a Japanese powerful samurai clan, invaded Okinawa in 1609.
Master Miyagi was called gBusaa Maagushikuh (= Miyagi the karate expert in Okinawan dialect) by people and very famous. He was also known as a founder of Gojuryu style. He created Gojuryu kata, gGekisai 1h, gGekisai 2h and gTenshoh.
Since then Mr. Yagi had been learning karate from Miyagi Sensei. The karate practice was hard. He had to practice only Sanchin for two months, three months or even half a year. gMy shoulders were covered in bruises, as Master Miyagi hit by his both palms during Sanchin practice.h said Mr. Yagi remembering the hard training of Sanchin.
Master Miyagi developed Mr. Yagifs strong body and fighting spirits through Sanchin practice. He also taught Mr. Yagi the moral aspect of karate or gthe way of humanh (= morality). There is an episode related to this as follows.
One day Mr. Yagi went to public baths, when he still trained karate under Miyagi Sensei. At the public baths, he helped an old man wash his back. The old man saw the bruised shoulders of the kind youth and said "You go to Miyagi Sensei's Dojo, don't you?" He also said "Namanugutudo Sundoo." (= "You should be always kind to elderly people like you did to me now." in Okinawan dialect.) and he thanked Mr. Yagi. Later Miyagi Sensei heard this story, so he visited Mr. Yagi at home and said "You did well! It is worthwhile teaching you karate." Miyagi Sensei was delighted. He praised Mr. Yagi.
"I am an ordinary man. I have nothing special and strong." said Mr. Yagi. It means he takes the same attitude toward karate as Miyagi Sensei; karate is the same as Zen.
The mottos at Meibukan, Mr. Yagi's karate Dojo, are "Flowing water of a river never compete with each other to go ahead of the others." and "The truth of karate exists in the training of your mind and spirit."
Mr. Yagi with such mottos casts a question over "sportization" of karate. Jiyu Kumite(= free sparring) tournaments are very popular nowadays. They are held by Japan Karate-do Federation. Someday karate would be one of items in Olympic Games. However, Okinawa Karate-do Federation does not approve such tournaments.
Mr. Yagi is worried, "We might tend to neglect practicing Kata of Okinawan tradition, if we made karate one of tournament sports."
The following is his own motto for the Way of karate.
We have nothing in our empty hands.
Mighty power like a steel is our Kata and heritage
which require a long time practice and training.
It is what men are seeking
just only for their self-respect and self-defense.
The phrase "men are seeking just only for their self-respect and self-defense" is impressive.
Mr. Yagi opened his Dojo (= a training hall) "Meibukan" in about 1949 or 1950, soon after World War Two ended, when he worked as a customs officer. Before that time he taught karate at a vacant lot of the street.
The Dojo still remains the same as before. We remember a Dojo of the old days, when we see a Makiwara and a barbell at the yard of Mr. Yagi's home.
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