Remarks: The original Japanese title "Omoide No Higa Seiko Sensei" written by Mr. Saburo Higa, an acupuncturist. This article appeared in the book, "Karate Denshinroku" (= True History of Karate) by Akio Kinjo, as a supplementary article. Pages 326-331 (Okinawa Tosho Center, 1999)
I joined Itoman Dojo, a karate academy of Master Seiko Higa, in October 1952. At that time, the Dojo was located in front of Itoman Elementary School and faced a bus road. At the corner of the Dojo, there was a carpenter’s workshop. I met with Mr. Akio Kinjo for the first time in November 1955 when he was waiting for Master Seiko Higa at the Dojo. He was a student of Ryukyu University and devoted himself to practicing karate.
Although in the chaotic times after World War Two in Okinawa, there were a lot of excellent students in Itoman Dojo such as Juei Tamaki, Seikichi Toguchi, Seiko Kina, Soko Yamakawa and Choshin Ishimine who was a promising young disciple. We sometimes stayed at the Dojo. Soko Yamakawa had a sense of humor. He and Kanki Izumikawa of Kawasaki-shi joined the Dojo at the same time. Yamakawa’s karate feats in battle were famous when Master Seiko Higa was teaching karate in Saipan. Those senior students really admired and respected Master Seiko Higa. Subsequently, they opened their own Dojos and laid the foundation for propagating Goju-ryu karate.
Seiyu Nakasone of Tomari-Te style who was a carpenter often visited the Dojo and studied the fundamental Kata, "Tensho". He was concentrating on his practice of "Tensho" until he fully understood it. Master Seiko Higa often said to us, "Brother Kaa Kaa (His nickname was "Kaa Kaa" as he always stuttered.) is an expert in Shorin-ryu of Tomari style. However, he was well impressed with "Tensho" of Goju-ryu and its step. He is convinced "Tensho" is so real and genuine that it alone is enough to study."
At that time, we had neither a gas cooking stove nor a kerosene cooking stove, so Master Seiko Higa cut pieces of board and burnt them to boil water for making tea. He did not drink alcohol at all. He liked drinking tea and smoking "Lucky Strike" brand cigarettes. When he had free time, he walked about and visited his friends or students to have a chat. Later, he got a job as a karate instructor at Okinawa Prison, and he could somehow make a decent living.
I made five friends of mine enroll in the Dojo. I also brought enough tea to the Dojo from my home. Those things delighted Master Higa. The training times at the Dojo became fixed. Miss Kanako Ishikawa, the first female student, and many others enrolled in the Dojo.
Near the end of December 1952, we had a party at the Dojo. We bought a goat. We butchered the goat by ourselves and cooked it for the party. Mr. Miyahira, a calligrapher as well as a local government worker for Itoman City, wrote the name of our Dojo on the signboard. We hung the signboard that says "Itoman Goju-ryu Karate Dojo, Nippon Butokukai Renshi, Higa Seiko" (= Goju-ryu Karate Academy in Itoman City, Chief Instructor: Seiko Higa who was awarded the title "Renshi" by Dai Nippon Butokukai) at the entrance of the Dojo.
After practice at the Dojo I often had a chance to listen to so interesting stories about karate told by Master Seiko Higa that I almost forgot to go home. Unfortunately Master Higa’s wife had already passed away and it was the poverty times just after World War Two, so he was forced to live inconveniently. I sometimes invited him to my house for dinner and we had a chat about karate. The followings are some stories told by Master Seiko Higa.
The wooden sign saying "Do not enter! We are practicing." was hung at the entrance of the training hall while Chojun Miyagi was learning karate from Kanryo Higaonna. During that time, Seiko Higa was waiting outside the training hall. After a while Seiko Higa entered the training hall, and he became a training partner of Chojun Miyagi and practiced karate with Chojun Miyagi and Kanryo Higaonna.
When Chojun Miyagi was young, he visited karate masters of other styles such as Anko Itosu and Chotoku Kyan. In those days, there were no Ryu or names of karate styles, so karate masters from various styles gathered together and held a meeting called "Bu No Hyoji" (= a forum on martial arts?). At the meeting, they talked about karate techniques, read a Ryuka (= an Okinawan poem) aloud and drank Sake (= an alcoholic drink made from rice). It was something like a friendly party. Chojun Miyagi was the youngest among them.
I have seen Master Chojun Miyagi was teaching karate at the Police Academy in Naha. At that time, I felt as if a beam of searchlight was shining from his eyes.
Whizzing through the air, Master Seiko Higa performed Kata. His performance was very excellent and energetic. Everybody knew that his performance of Kata was beautiful.
Master Seiko Higa was the closest disciple of Master Chojun Miyagi. He attained the Truth of Goju-ryu karate, and he tried to keep it.
At a party, Master Seiko Higa also danced "Manzai Tichiuchi", an Okinawan traditional dance. He was mild-mannered and gentle like a spring breeze. He was free and flexible. He was a genius of karate-do.