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2012 IOGKF World Budsosai

By: David Lambert – Editor IOGKF International

An event that will go down in the history books, not only for its success but as the end of one era and the start of another. The 6th IOGKF World Budosai was successful in that brought together over 750 participants from all over the planet to share in the treasure that is Okinawa Goju-ryu Karate-do...


The efforts of so many went in to organising and running the registration side of the event. Sensei Linda Marchant was really leading the charge when I arrived at Higaonna Dojo a few days before the Budosai. So many dedicated and loyal students from both Okinawa and around the World were busy working together in very humid conditions to sort each individual pack for the first day of the event. It was so great to see so many working together and overcoming the language barrier to succeed in a common goal.

Day one of the Budosai started with a group of loyal helpers standing in the pouring rain at Higaonna Sensei’s Dojo, loading car after car with all the registration packs to deliver to the Budokan. The packs were fantastic in design and were very happily received by the hundreds of people who arrived at the Budokan arena area. Thank you so much to the dozens of helpers that gave up their time to assist with the registration process, it was great appreciated it.

As always, it became like a big family reunion with most collecting their packs and proceeding into the Budokan main arena for a long overdue catch up. Higaonna Sensei was also on deck to meet the many members who had travelled from around the World to share a week of Goju-ryu & friendship.


And nothing seems to help forge and rekindle lifelong friendships more than an IOGKF welcome party! All attendees, their families and friends filled the function rooms of the urban resort hotel in Naha. They ate, drank and shared much cheer to great traditional Okinawan entertainment, including performances by Higaonna Sensei’s sister. The party was opened with a speech from Higaonna Sensei followed by Sensei Bakkies who gave his toast, ‘Kampai!’

(Sensei Bakkies giving his toast at the Budosai Welcome Party)


Training began everyday at 8am with senior grade only sessions. It began on the Tuesday with 3rd Dan and above and became more advanced each day until only 7th Dan and above remained on Saturday. These sessions were closed to the general public and Higaonna Sensei focused mainly on senior Kata, along with Sanchin and Tensho.

(3rd Dan and above focusing on Sanchin under Higaonna Sensei.)


Training for all grades began everyday with a group Jumbi Undo for around 30 minutes, with a different instructor taking this each day. This would then be followed by Higaonna Sensei taking Kihon training for another 30 minutes.

During the week, there were warm ups taken by Sensei Bakkies, Terauchi Sensei, Masuyama Sensei & Sensei Ernie. Each of these fantastic instructors gave their own unique slant on Jumbi Undo and their energy and enthusiasm was definitely felt.

When Higaonna Sensei would take to the stage thereafter, the sweat would pour and the echo of Kiai’s would roar! For nearly 75 years old, Higaonna Sensei still amazed us all with his energy, coupled with his explosive techniques which pushed us all. We began each Kihon session with blocking techniques, then followed with punching striking and kicking techniques, combination work and of course, Shiko Dachi!

By the time Higaonna Sensei had finished with us, the aches and pains of the day before had melted away and our bodies were prepared for another day of traditional Karate at its best!

(All grades training at the 2012 IOGKF World Budosai)


Following all grades training, three grade specific sessions would then follow. Each session would last one hour and the senior instructors would rotate to teach each group.

I have been fortunate enough to travel to many IOGKF major events and I must say that in all that time I have never been to an event at which pretty much every senior International instructor present. The groups were split between the Budokan main arena and other three floors of the impressive building.

Personally, I really enjoyed the high level of Kata training we received. We were put through a perfect blend of sweat sessions and technical training. But no stone was left unturned; we also covered everything from Kakie to Yakusoku Kumite and we all had plenty of ‘light bulb’ moments! When you began to hear other groups around the hall clapping in appreciation for their group instructor’s efforts, it was always hard to believe it had been one hour. All the instructors were in fine form and were happy to answer questions and work with all members to help them achieve a higher level in their Karate.

(Group training with Nakamura Sensei)

We were also fortunate that Higaonna Sensei had organised for Chinese Masters to come and visit us in Okinawa. They were Masters Lin Yuandan, Zhang Xiao Feng, Hung Teng Seng and Mr. Li. They also worked in with our senior instructors and spent time with our black belt groups. It was a new and very interesting experience to follow these Masters through their own Kata and seeing similarity between movements of ours and movements of theirs. My group also experienced a push hands exercise, which although it looked different, had the same tanden feeling of Kakie. It was a great experience.

About 30 junior members attended the Budosai too. They had speciality sessions taken for one hour each morning with a different instructor each day. The instructor were Uehara Sensei, Sensei Mistry, Sensei Roy, Sensei Linda and I. The kids were a very enthusiastic bunch and each of us were able to bring a different teaching style to keep them interested. The smiles on their faces were all the feedback we needed.

(2012 IOGKF World Budosai Instructors photo)


On the Tuesday afternoon, two black belt grading tests were held. The first was for Shodan – Godan level and was for our senior instructors of Rokudan and up to as high as Hachidan. Everyone sat before the headquarter grading panel of Higaonna Sensei, Bakkies Sensei and Terauchi Sensei. Nakamura Sensei ran the first grading and Higaonna Sensei himself took the senior grading. It was a nervous wait until Sunday’s Sayonara Party for the grading results – senior grading results can be found in this (August 2012) edition of the IOGKF International Newsletter.


This was a private meeting for chief instructors only, however one part of the meeting became common knowledge among all members soon after. Higaonna Sensei announced to all chief instructors that at the end of the Budosai, he would be stepping back / retiring from his position as IOGKF World Chief Instructor to become an advisor. His replacement would be Sensei Tetsuji Nakamura and he would now be responsible for passing traditional Okinawan Goju-ryu on to the next generation. Higaonna Sensei also announced that to replace Nakamura Sensei as vice chief instructor would be Sensei Ernie Molyneux and Sensei Henrik Larsen.

It was a surprise to many that Higaonna Sensei was stepping back, but it was widely understood and supported that Nakamura Sensei was definitely the right person to take on such a huge responsibility.

(Our new World Chief Instructor – Sensei Tetsuji Nakamura)


Higaonna Sensei had managed to organise a number of lectures through the week of the Budosai with some very high profile guests, including Aragaki Shuichi Sensei (10th Dan Goju-ryu and last living student of Chojun Miyagi Sensei) and Sakiyama Sogen Roshi (Zen master and former student of Chojun Miyagi Sensei). Both lectures were fantastic and it was great to see a good crowd show up for each one.

Sakiyama Roshi is in his 90’s and arrived via wheel chair. Although his body his starting to becoming weak, everyone was amazed at how strong his mind still is. He lectured on our place in the universe, Goju-ryu and spoke of Chojun Miyagi Sensei. He was extremely impressive and so clear in what he wished to get across to his audience. He also opened the floor to questions which he answered without fuss and again with crystal clear clarity. He received a resounding applause at the end and touched all who were present.

(The Roshi lecturing at the World Budosai)

Aragaki Sensei’s lecture was half speech and half demonstration! Being in his late 80’s has not falter Aragaki Sensei’s confidence or spirit at all. He spoke about what Karate was like when he was younger and what it was like training under Miyagi Chojun Sensei. He also showed his respect to Miyagi Anichi Sensei. But when things became too difficult or too time consuming to explain, Aragaki Sensei simply showed us. Seeing him blocking Nakamura Sensei flurry of punches, utilising take down techniques and exploding with close quarters movements left everyone speechless. Not only did Aragaki Sensei talk the talk, he showed us he can still walk the walk. Whenever he stood up to demonstrate, the whole audience sat up even straighter to witness what marvel Aragaki Sensei would produce next! I spoke to Aragaki Sensei a few times during the Budosai and I still find him to be an extremely impressive and well focused Master who is a great inspiration to us all.

(Aragaki Sensei demonstrating on Nakamura Sensei during his lecture.)



Higaonna Sensei chartered a bus on the Wednesday afternoon to take a group of chief instructors two hours North to visit the grave of Anichi Miyagi Sensei. It was a humbling experience and each present member prayed for Anichi Sensei and showed their respect to him. The Budosai commemorated three years since the passing of Anichi Sensei and this visit added to the fitting tribute that Higaonna Sensei had organised for his teacher.

(The group that visited Anichi Sensei’s grave site)



The actual Budosai (martial arts festival) took place on the Sunday with a massive turnout from martial artists of all background and interested members of the general public. Speeches were given to open the festival and this was when Higaonna Sensei publically announced that he would be passing Goju-ryu onto the next generation.

The Nishihara High School Marching band warmed the audience up with a breathtaking and well organised performance which made us understand why they were world champions! They performed some great classic music; especially from the Beatles! Their triumphant rendition of ‘let it be’ put lumps in many people’s throats.

Sensei Bakkies then lead all the black belts through Sanchin Kata. Over 500 Yudansha were all breathing and moving in harmony and it was quite a sight to behold.

(Sensei Bakkies Laubscher leading the IOGKF Black Belt Group in Sanchin.)

Sensei Ernie then took charge and lead all the attending Kyu grades through Gekisai dai Ichi and Gekisai dai Ni. There were many junior grades present that were very popular with the audience.

The demonstrations then rolled on from there. Performances were given from our Chinese guests, right through to our own marvel, Higaonna Sensei. Demonstration videos can be found separately in this (August 2012) IOGKF International Newsletter. They are well worth the time to watch.

(Higaonna Sensei demonstrating conditioning on a Chishi with Uehara Sensei.)

It was a fantastic afternoon that took the efforts of so many to pull together. IOGKF members from around the world produced some very high quality and original demonstrations that were very well received.


And what a party it was! The food, the drink and the atmosphere were outstanding. The Pacific hotel in Okinawa was once again the venue for the Budosai Sayonara party and witnessed a great example of humanity coming together under a common theme – togetherness.

There were great performances from ‘Hanayakara’, one of Japan’s leading song and dance groups. They did a number of songs and were fantastic entertainment. But many were very anxious to find out how they had fared in the grading results.

There was the sound of applause as the names of those successful were called out by Higaonna Sensei. However, when it was confirmed that Nakamura Sensei had passed his 7th Dan a resounding applause lasting several minutes bellowed through the halls of the Pacific Hotel, thus confirming the support he has as new IOGKF World Chief Instructor. All senior grading results for the 2012 World Budosai are available in this (August 2012) IOGKF International Newsletter.

(Higaonna Sensei & Nakamura Sensei announcing the grading results.)

A big congratulations to all those who passed their examination; especially those who have dedicated most of their lives to pursing and protecting Okinawan Goju-ryu.

The night continued on with fantastic performances by IOGKF member countries. From Indian dancers to Russian singers and the famous New Zealand Haka, there was no shortage of entertainment from the International contingent.

All Chief and Budosai instructors were presented with a beautiful bottle of Awamori (Okinawan fire water) with beautiful engraving on it. This signalled the end of what had been a fantastic week of traditional Goju-ryu Karate – do.


So with the Budosai finished, one era of IOGKF International ended and a new one began. It was a week that will forever be in the history books and IOGKF International will continue to grow even stronger under the watchful eye of Higaonna Sensei and the leadership of Nakamura Sensei.

A big thank you to all the volunteers and helpers that assisted in making this event such a resounding success!