A message from Chris Fay, Owner of the Okinawa Karate School

Hi, my name is Chris Fay and I’m the owner and chief instructor at Okinawa Karate School.

My martial arts journey started in 1974 when a friend of my parents introduced me to Tae Kwon do. He started teaching me in his spare time, and from the very first lesson, I was hooked. My formal training started shortly thereafter when I began taking classes at my local YMCA. My hunger to learn increased and soon I was looking for someplace to learn martial arts six days a week. So, in 1976, I ran across Tom Haggerty’s Okinawa Karate School that would later be renamed Haggerty’s Martial Arts Center.

I was so excited to find a place that offered classes every day that I literally trained six days a week and often attended more than one class per day. I worked very hard and eventually earned my black belt in December of 1978. My training under Sensei Haggerty continued, and I was also fortunate enough to receive instruction from two more exceptional martial artists. The first of these artists was John Douvillier the Wing Chun instructor, and the other was Michael Heenan the Jiu-Jitsu instructor. I achieved a Senior Blade Master Certification in John Douvillier’s Mushin-Kan system, and I know that this comprehensive training has positively influenced my Karate mindset and solidified my effectiveness in teaching the in-close fighting methods of Okinawan Goju-Ryu.

It is my privilege to carry on the teachings and legacy of my beloved Sensei, Tom Haggerty, who was not only my teacher, but mentor and father figure for nearly 40 years. It is also my privilege to continue teaching the art of traditional Okinawan Goju-Ryu Shorei-Kan Karate-do under the Shorei-Kai Federation founded by the late master Seikichi Toguchi and currently under Kaicho Masaru Nose and Vic Hargitt who is the North American representative.

Chris Fay Shihan
Fifth Dan Shorei-Kai Federation
Certified Senior Blade Master Mushin-Kan edged weapons
NASM Certified Personal Trainer/Weight Loss Specialist
Owner/Chief Instructor Okinawa Karate School, Midwest City, Oklahoma

The History of Okinawan Goju-ryu Karate
Okinawa

Okinawa

Chinese Influence

Okinawa was an island kingdom that is located in the China Sea halfway between Southern Japan and China’s Fukien Province. For centuries, Okinawa paid tribute to China. In 1477, King Shō Shin banned the use of martial arts and weaponry from commoners in order to help him control the newly combined kingdom of Ryūkyū. So the people of Okinawa practiced a form of open hand martial arts or “te” (pronounced “tay”). The people of Okinawa also developed kobudō, a fighting style using common farming tools as weapons further allowing them to practice in secrecy. The Chinese culture and the various monks and Kung Fu masters living in the region influenced the people of Okinawa, and over time the fighting styles blended into a style know as “tote”, or as it was later pronounced, karate (meaning: Chinese hand).

Japanese Influence

Okinawa was invaded by the Shimazu Clan in 1609, and remained under their rule for the next 270 years. The rulers continued to ban the ownership of weapons in Okinawa and the need practice te and kobudō in secrecy became even more necessary. The fighting styles were often practiced in groups, and heavily influenced traditional dances within the region as the technique could easily be incorporated into the dance without revealing the true purpose of martial arts training. These katas, or karate forms would be passed down from teacher to student for generations. Nothing was written down, there were no large schools, only a few teachers with highly-trusted and worthy students would pass on their fighting legacies.

In 1879, the Kingdom of Okinawa became under the rule of Japan, and the art of karate and kobudō were finally freed from being practiced in the shadows and publically prominent part of the Okinawan culture. Karate and kobudō were incorporated into the local education system and schools, and it’s popularity spread throughout the region where it later became recognized as a formal martial art.

Sensei Tom Haggerty May 8 1929 – Feb 3, 2014
Sensei Tom Haggerty

Sensei Tom Haggerty

 

Ichiro Takahata was sent to Oklahoma in 1968 by Master Toguchi to start a karate school. That is where he trained a man by the name of Tom Haggerty. Tom was a salesman who had decided to take karate for self-defense purposes. He was a bright student who began training at the age of 36, and received his Shodan (first degree black belt) only 4 years later. He received his black belt from Master Toguchi. Tom opened his first dojo just a year later, and began teaching in the small 968 square foot studio. Tom taught classes 3 or 4 times a day until he moved the dojo to its current location in Midwest City.

Sensei Tom Haggerty receiving his black belt from Master Toguchi.

Sensei Tom Haggerty receiving his black belt from Master Toguchi.

Sensei Tom Haggerty

Sensei Tom Haggerty

The Karate Masters who created Goju Ryu Karate

Master Kanryo Higashionna (1840-1910)

Master Kanryo Higashionna

Master Kanryo Higashionna

 

 

One of the greatest karate masters in the region of Okinawa was Kanryo Higashionna. Higashionna was a sailor who had learned the art of Shuri-te as a child, and later learned Chinese boxing from the famed martial artist Ryu Ruko. When Higashionna later returned to his home in Okinawa after many years of training he combined his skills in the two forms of martial arts into a style known as Naha te. Master Higashionna began teaching his techniques, with hopes of one day developing this into form of martial arts. He had a vision for teaching large groups of students rather than just a few individuals, and became instrumental in the integration of martial arts into schools and police academies.

 

 

 

Master Chojun Miyagi (1888-1953)

Master Chojun Miyagi

Master Chojun Miyagi

Chojun Miyagi was born in Naha in 1888. He was fortunate to inherit a large sum of money at a young age, and was able to devote his life exclusively to the study of martial arts. Around age 13, after two years of training, Miyagi was introduced to Master Kanryo Higashionna and began learning the art of Naha te. At the time, Master Higashionna only taught his students one kata each based on their body type and temperament, and the students were then expected to master that one kata. Miyagi was the only pupil of Master Higashionna to learn all of the katas, and he trained under his sensei until his master’s death in 1910.

After his master’s death, Miyagi traveled to China to study more martial arts and continue to hone his craft and spread the knowledge and practice of karate. Miyagi’s style of fighting was called Goju Ryu meaning the hard and soft style. The name comes from a poem in the Bubishi, a book of martial arts military tactics from the 17th century, and Goju is the first form of karate not to be named for the region it was first practiced in. In 1933, Miyagi was chosen to represent Okinawan martial arts before the largest martial arts organization in Japan and his art was then recognized as a formal Japanese martial art, and Miyagi was designated the first Karate-Do Master.

Miyagi developed the teaching methods of karate into the forms that we use in our dojos today. He introduced preparation exercises, Kata (or forms), and helped to promote a positive image of the martial arts instruction with regards to health and art.

Master Seiko Higa (1889-1966)

Seiko Higa was a student of Master Higashionna, fellow classmate of Master Miyagi, and a teacher to Seikichi Toguchi. Higa was a great teacher and is highly regarded as a master technician of the art of Goju Ryu karate. Higa opened a Dojo with the help of Toguchi following the war in 1949 where Miyagi was able to pass on all of his advanced knowledge of karate to his apt students.

Master Seikichi Toguchi (1917-1998) – The founder of Shorei-Kan Karate

Master Seikichi Toguchi

Master Seikichi Toguchi

Seikichi Toguchi was born on May 20 1917 in Naha City, Okinawa, Japan. He was trained in the basics of Okinawa te by his father a young boy. At age 13, Toguchi started studying Goju Ryu at Seiko Higa’s dojo. Toguchi’s father was a friend of Master Miyagi, and eventually, Toguchi began training under Chojun Miyagi. Toguchi trained under the two Masters for more than 50 years combined.

Toguchi served in World War II as an electrical engineer in Indonesia, until 1946. Sometime after the war, Sensei Higa moved in with Toguchi. Higa would later introduce Toguchi to the woman who would become his wife, Haruko.

In 1949 Toguchi and Higa opened up a new dojo and Toguchi became a Shihan. The two senseis studied the advanced techniques of Master Miyagi until his death. In 1953, Master Miyagi’s senior students joined together to create the Karete-Do Goju Association.

Master Toguchi opened the first Shorei-kan Dojo (House of Politeness and Respect) in Kaza City, Okinawa. The school was located near an American military base, and the Americans showed lots of interest in the martial arts. Toguchi soon had lots of Westerners in his classes, so he decided to create his teaching method to help mitigate the language barrier. Toguchi added kata, bunkai and kumite (explains application of kata) to Miyagi’s training methods.

Master Seikichi Toguchi, in the early 70's during a visit to Oklahoma.

Master Seikichi Toguchi, in the early 70’s during a visit to Oklahoma.

Okinawa Karate-Do Federation was formed in 1956. Toguchi was a member of the board of directors. Toguchi spent the rest of his life perfecting his art and helping it to spread throughout Japan, Asia, Europe, the Americas, and the rest of the world. In June of 1997, Vic Hargitt was the last person to receive the Shihan, or “teacher of teachers”, title from Master Toguchi. He was also the last person to be given certification by a member of the Toguchi family in July of 2004 when he earned the rank of Rokudan or 6th degree blackbelt. Vic is currently the representative for Shorei-kan North America.

Master Toguchi passed away at the age of 81 in Tokyo on August 31.1998. He was the last living Okinawan master to receive the title of Bushi a title also held by his teacher Master Chojun Miyagi.

The Dojo Event Calendar

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