Higa Yuchoku Hanshi
“Nowadays people are in too much of a hurry and fail to master the basics of their style. The basics allow you to learn the advanced level kata and techniques in the true style — that is, the Chibana style. If one has drilled correctly in his basics then I can tell what school they are from.
Many teachers teach a watered down style — no hip action and no depth of punching — then it is easy to say that these teachers have no depth to their knowledge. You are what your teacher is — if he knows a lot, you will be able to demonstrate this knowledge.”
One of the most important Chibana-ha shorinryu instructors on Okinawa was the late Yuchoku Higa (Okinawa Shorinryu Kyudokan). Higa was born in 1910 and was the first person to be receive a 9th Dan Hanshi promotion from Choshin Chibana. Higa later left Chibana’s Okinawa Shorinryu Karatedo Association to dedicate more time in his own research and training. He continued to advise a number of Okinawan and Japanese Martial Arts association until his death.
Yuchoku Higa began his martial arts training in 1927 under the guidance of Jiro Shiroma of Wakahajama City. Shiroma was then the senior student of Higa’s father and taught shuri-te karatejutsu. At that time, Higa was then 17 years old and also a college student at a Naha City business school.
In 1933 Shiroma died and Higa then began receiving formal karate-jutsu instructions from his father. At the same time, Higa was also sent to study Naha-te karatejutsu (gojuryu) under Jinan Shinzato. Shinzato was the senior most student of Chojun Miyagi and was known for his great power and his well-rounded, fluid techniques.
In l935 Higa also received instructions from Kaiei Miyahira of Shuri-te karatejutsu while at the same time studying Naha-te (gojuryu) from Shinzato. Miyahira was then famous for his bujin (the warrior spirit). He was so famous during this period of time that he eventually became known as Teijin Kun Bushi.
Miyahira was also noted for his musical talents which included mastery of the shamisen, shakuhachi, yokobue and koto instruments. He was also highly regarded for his great knowledge of Japanese calligraphy in which he earned numerous honors. Miyahira thoroughly enjoyed everything he did and always showed great spirit in always trying his best in whatever endeavor. Higa credits Miyahira for teaching him the true martial spirit of hard work and hard training.
In 1939, while employed for the Naha City Water Service, the Naha City mayor assigned Higa the task of forming a baseball team, a judo team and a karate team for all City employees.
By January of 1940, Higa had formed all three teams and then assumed the responsibility of leadership for the karatejutsu club where he instructed about twenty students. Initially, the students were very devoted to karatejutsu training but quickly lost interest after finding out how rigorous the training was. By June of l940, Higa was down to four students. Not feeling justified in renting a formal dojo because of so few students, Higa began offering instruction in his backyard. This was his beginning as a teacher of karate.
During these teaching years, Higa changed jobs from working for City Hall to working at the Prefecture Hall. He later changed jobs to a Food Service Foundation. In this food service organization, Higa established a formal karate club upon receiving permission from their organization chairman. Higa then quickly asked Jinan Shinzato to become the master teacher of the club while he assumed the apprentice teacher role. They initially taught about ten students and later asked Shinjo Shiroma, a Shuri-te expert, to help in the instruction of the students. It should be noted that prior to the start of the war that all karate styles worked closely together.
After the war, Higa became a student of Chibana Choshin who then lived in Chinen Yashiki-mura. Higa was again studying Shuri-te. In October of 1948, Higa opened a dojo in Shuri-Gibo machi at Noei Miyagi’s home. Higa was also an apprentice teacher under Chibana at the Shuri City Police Station and assisted Chibana in opening ten shorin-ryu dojo.
When Chibana organized the Okinawa Shorinryu Karatedo Association, Higa was his first vice president. Higa continued to teach Okinawan karate from the same Naha address until his death. He was the president of the Shorinryu Kyudokan Association and Chairman of the Board of Shihans for the All Okinawa Karatedo Association. He was also president of the All Okinawa Karate and Kobudo Association with a membership of 34 dojo.