Known for his strong personality, Eiichi Miyazato was considered one of Chojun Miyagi’s, most devoted and best students. He has trained many notable students, including Morio Higaonna, Teruo Chinen, and Ryoichi Onaga.
Eiichi Miyazato was born on 5 July 1922 in Naha, Okinawa. He was one of seven children. His father, Jiro, was a merchant. He had been a student of Kanryo Higaonna, who was the teacher of Chojun Miyagi.
It is thought that Miyazato started training around the age of 13. His father introduced him to Chojun Miyagi, who had been a neighbour of the family for many years.
Miyazato’s elder brother, Eiko, was a longtime student of Miyagi at his Garden Dojo. Normally they would be around 10 students training at any time. They would practice by themselves, with Miyagi overlooking and correcting where necessary. The training normally lasted around 2-4 hours and was extremely tough. Some of the other students training at the time included Meitoku Yagi and Seikichi Toguchi.
In 1936 Miyazato began learning Judo under Shoko Itokazu. He eventually trained at the Kodokan, the home of Japanese Judo. He would go on to become All Okinawa Judo Champion, and All Japan Police Judo Champion.
After Miyazato completed high school he was drafted into the army. After basic training, he was deployed to Manchuria to patrol the Japanese border with Russia.
Between 1 April and 22 June 1945, the Battle of Okinawa took place between Japan and the United States. The three-month battle saw 12,000 American deaths; 100,000 Japanese deaths; and around 100,000 Okinawan civilian deaths. Miyazato’s father was among the dead. Miyagi also lost three of his children.
On his return from the war, Miyazato joined the Ryukyu Police Department in 1946. He assisted Miyagi in teaching at the Police Academy. Miyagi had become like a surrogate father to him.
On 8 October 1953 Chojun Miyagi died from a heart attack. Miyazato inherited Miyagi’s training equipment.
Following Miyagi’s death, several of his senior students establish their own Goju-Ryu schools. At the age of 32 Miyazato took over the running of the Garden Dojo. This was at the request of Miyagi’s family and his fellow students.
Miyazato also succeeded Miyagi as Chief Instructor of the Police Academy, where he taught Judo and self-defence.
In 1955 Miyazato was appointed a Director of the Okinawa Prefecture Judo Federation.
On 8 December 1955, a Budo Festival was held at the Naha Theatre in memory of Chojun Miyagi.
In 1957 Miyazato moved from the Garden Dojo to his Jundokan Dojo, which was located in Naha. The new dojo was in a 3-story building. His apartment was on the top floor. He was assisted in his teaching by Anichi Miyagi.
Over the next few years, membership at the Jundokan grew.
In 1962 Miyazato was appointed the Vice Chairman of the Okinawa Prefecture Judo Federation.
On 8 October 1962, the sculptured bust of Chojun Miyagi was placed in the Naha Police Gymnasium. A Budo demonstration was also held to mark the 10th anniversary of Miyagi’s passing.
In October 1969 Miyazato and several other Goju–Ryu our instructors established the Okinawa Gojuryu Karatedo Kyokai (Okinawa Goju-Ryu Karatedo Association). He was appointed the Chairman of the association.
The Jundokan dojo moved to a new location in 1970. The new location was next door to the old dojo. It had a well-equipped gym, changing rooms, and hot and cold showers.
In 1971 Miyazato resigned from the Police Force. Although not clear why he resigned, there has been some speculation that he may have had some connections in the criminal underworld. He now focused on teaching Karate.
On 8 September 1979, Miyazato was awarded the title of Hanshi by the All Japan Karate-do Federation.
Miyazato was still very active in Judo circles. On 1 May 1981, he was promoted to 7th Dan by the Nippon Kodokan. Three years later, he also received a Commendation from the Kodokan.
In 1981 Miyazato was appointed a Director of the Okinawa Prefecture Karatedo Federation.
On 20 March 1988, the Okinawa Gojuryu Karatedo Kyokai promoted Miyazato to the rank of 10th Dan and awarded him the title of Hanshi.
On 20 March 1988, a Budo Festival was held at the Oroku High School to commemorate the 35th anniversary of the founding of the Jundokan.
In 1989 Miyazato was appointed to a number of governing bodies. This included:
- The Naha Karate-do Federation as an advisor
- The All Japan Karate-do Federation (Goju–Ryu) as an advisor
- The All Japan Karate-do Federation (All Styles) as an advisor
In 1991 Miyazato was appointed the Chairman of the Okinawa Prefecture Karatedo Federation (All Styles).
Miyazato was invited to Europe in 1993. He gave several seminars in Italy, Sweden, and Spain.
On 25 July 1993, a Budo Festival was held at the Naha Citizen’s Gymnasium. It commemorated the 40th anniversary of the founding of the Jundokan.
Between 1994 and 1998 Miyazato received a number of awards and commendations. This included:
- The Distinguished Service Award from the Nihon Budo Kyokai(1994)
- A Commendation from the Okinawa Judo Federation (1994)
- A Letter of Commendation from the Okinawa Athletic Organisation (1995)
- A Letter of Recognition for Services to Naha City (1996)
- A Commendation from the Japanese Ministry of Education (1998)
On 11 December 1999, Eiichi Miyazato died in Naha Hospital, following an illness. He was aged 77. He was posthumously awarded the rank of 8th Dan by the Kodokan. His son, Yoshihiro, took over the running of the Jundokan dojo.
On 29 July 2002, a Memorial Budo Festival was held at the Okinawa Prefectural Budokan to mark the third anniversary of the passing of Miyazato.
Miyazato was described as a powerfully built man. This came from practising Hojo Undo and Judo for many years.
Because Miyazato’s techniques were very soft, some people made the unfounded mistake of thinking his techniques were not powerful and so his Karate was not strong. However, those who felt his technique have remarked how strong his techniques and Karate really were.
Regarded as an excellent and knowledgeable instructor, Miyazato trained many students who have carried on the legacy of Karate he learnt from Chojun Miyagi.