Seikichi Toguchi

Respect your seniors and treat your juniors kindly.

Seikichi Toguchi

A body suppleness, the envy of many practitioners a fraction of his age, Seikichi Toguchi was the first of Goju–Ryu founder, Chojun Miyagi’s students to open a dojo in Japan. He was also responsible for making advances in Okinawan Goju–Ryu.

Seikichi Toguchi was born on 7 May 1917, in Naha City, Okinawa.

Growing up Toguchi had dreams of becoming a Sea Captain.

Toguchi’s father loved the martial arts, but never took formal lessons. He would always train on the makiwara. He taught his son the basics of Okinawan Te.

Just after he turned 16 Toguchi began learning Goju-Ryu Karate at the dojo of Seko Higa, which was a short distance from his home. Higa had been the last student of the renowned master, Kanryo Higashionna, before his death.

Chojun Miyagi, the founder of Goju-Ryu Karate, was the same age as Toguchi’s father. They were good friends and Miyagi was a frequent visitor to the Toguchi family home.

Toguchi eventually became a student of Miyagi. The training was very hard and very traditional. It tended to be private one-to-one sessions or very small groups. Students had to be proficient in a single technique before being taught another one.

Miyagi taught lessons in the backyard of his home. He charged his students no money. He wanted to develop very good students. Because of the tough training methods the dropout rate was quite high. It could take students ten years to become really proficient. He did not believe in belts or providing ranks to his students.

Toguchi trained full-time with both Miyagi and Higa until the outbreak of World War II. He would end up training under Higa for over 33 years and training under Miyagi for over 25 years.

In 1939 Toguchi was drafted into the Japanese Imperial Army as an electrical engineer. He was stationed in Sumatra, Indonesia. However, he was eventually imprisoned by the British as a prisoner of war. He served his sentence on a nearby island.

Toguchi was released by the British in 1946. He returned to a devastated Okinawa. His teachers had suffered many losses and were financially ruined. Miyagi had lost three children and a senior student to the war. Higa had lost his wife.

Life changed for Toguchi’s teachers. Miyagi began teaching at the Police Academy in Naha. Higa moved in with Toguchi. It was around this time that Higa introduced Toguchi to his future wife, Haruko. Toguchi eventually helped Miyagi build a new home and dojo in Naha City.

In 1949 Toguchi helped Higa build and open a dojo in Itoman City, where he taught Judo and Karate. He was Higa’s assistant and was eventually appointed the Chief Instructor of the dojo.

In 1952 Miyagi and his senior students formed the Goju-Ryu Shinkokai to promote Goju-Ryu Karate. His students had wanted to award themselves black belts. However, Miyagi would not allow this. He had never awarded black belts to any of his students and believed that a black belt should only be awarded by a member of the Emporer’s family or sanctioning body like the Butokukai.

On 8 October 1953 Chojun Miyagi died from a heart attack. He had not named a successor. He had taught many of his advanced techniques to his senior students including Toguchi.

Toguchi was one of Miyagi’s only students to be teaching Karate full-time as his profession.

Following Miyagi’s death his students formed the Karate-Do Goju Kai. Meitoku Yagi was named Chairman of the Association, with Toguchi being named Vice-Chairman.

In 1954 Toguchi opened his first Shorei-Kan Dojo in Koza City, Okinawa. Shorei-Kan means “House of Courtesy and Manners“. The dojo was located close to the Kadena American Airbase.

Servicemen from the Airbase were soon training at the dojo. In the beginning, there was a language barrier between Toguchi and his new students. He soon realized it was necessary to develop a systemized traditional syllabus that could be taught to Westerners. Many early pioneers of Okinawan Karate in the United States trained with him.

In 1956 the Okinawan Karate-Do Federation was formed. Toguchi was installed as a member of the Board of Directors.

Toguchi moved to Japan in 1960. His intention was to spread Goju–Ryu Karate. He would spend the winter months in Okinawa, and the summer months in Japan. He helped organize the Goju Ryu Association. This would later become known as the Goju Kai Federation.

While in Japan Toguchi studied calligraphy under Seseki Ishi and Zen under Sogen Sakiyama. He also studied yoga which he incorporated into his Karate training and teaching.

In 1962 Toguchi opened his first Shorei-kan dojo in Tokyo. He felt that Chojun Miyagi’s original teachings had become distorted since his death. He wanted to promote Okinawan Goju–Ryu Karate.

On 16 April 1966 Toguchi’s longtime teacher, Seko Higa died aged 68.

In 1966 Toguchi built the Shorei-kan Hombu in Okinawa.

Wanting to spread his style of Goju–Ryu, Toguchi sent his student Ichiro Takahata to the United States. As a representative of Shorei–kan Takahata established a United States headquarters.

Toshio Tamano, another of Toguchi’s students also arrived in the United States in 1969 to help spread Goju-Ryu Karate. Three years later Toguchi sent another of his students, Tomoaki Koyabu, to teach Shorei–kan in Canada.

In February 1976 Toguchi’s book “Okinawan Goju-Ryu: Fundamentals of Shorei-kan Karate“, was published. The book provides a comprehensive guide to the style of Goju–Ryu.

Through the 1980s and 1990s Toguchi was widely regarded as one of the foremost experts of Goju-Ryu Karate. He continued traveling between his dojos in Okinawa in Japan.

On 31 August 1998, Seikichi Toguchi died in Tokyo aged 81. He was survived by his wife of many years, Haruko. She became the head of the Shorei–kan, backed by a committee of Toguchi’s senior black belts.

In 2001, “Okinawan Goju–Ryu II: Advanced Techniques of Shorei-kan Karate ” was published. It was a sequel to Toguchi’s 1976 book.

On 31 August 2004 Haruko Toguchi retired as head of the Shorei–kan. She returned to her home in Okinawa. She was replaced as head by Norihiro Yamamoto.

At the time of his death, Seikichi Toguchi was ranked as a 10th Dan. He left a lasting legacy. He created additional Goju-Ryu kata and supplementary training exercises. He also created two-man partner drills for practicing Goju-Ryu kata. He was also one of the first senior Okinawan Goju–Ryu instructors to teach Karate to American servicemen.

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