Teruo Hayashi

I have not invented any katas, what I have done is give them back the sense of force that they should have.

Teruo Hayashi

The founder of the Hayashi-Ha Shito-Ryu school of Karate, Teruo Hayashi has been described as one of the last great Japanese Budo masters. He dedicated his life to the pursuit of martial arts knowledge. Considered a great fighter, he studied Karate and Kobudo from many of the top Okinawan Masters. In his younger days, he was known to have practiced dojoyaburi, where he would visit a dojo and challenge the top students. He wanted to test the validity of his training. If he lost, he would ask to become a student at the dojo.

Teruo Hayashi was born in Nara, Japan, on 21 October 1924. Growing up he was a small and weak child.

In 1938 Hayashi began learning Judo at the age of 14. He trained at the Kusunogibukan dojo. Within two years he had been awarded his 1st Dan in Judo. He was considered one of the most talented Judoka of his generation. He eventually earned the rank of 3rd Dan in 1948.

By 1942 Hayashi was living in Osaka. He started practicing Shito-Ryu Karate under Kosei Kuniba, who was a direct student of Shito-Ryu founder, Kenwa Mabuni.

At the height of World War II, Japan was looking for young men to join the war effort. In 1944, aged 20, Hayashi enlisted in the Japanese Air Force. He saw action, serving as a co-pilot during the war.

At the end of the war, Japan was occupied by American forces, who prohibited the practice of martial arts. Hayashi still trained privately with his friends.

In 1949 Hayashi began learning Goju-Ryu Karate under Seiko Higa, a student of both Chojun Miyagi and Kanryo Higaonna. Hayashi remained his student until 1951.

Hayashi decided to travel to Okinawa in 1951 to further his martial arts knowledge. He would spend the next eight years learning all he could.

Hayashi studied various Kobudo weapons from some of Okinawa’s top masters. Under Hohan Sokan he studied the bo and kama. Under Kenko Nakaima he studied the kama and sai. Under Shiken Taira he studied various other weapons.

He also had the opportunity to study Karate from various Karate masters. He studied Shorin-Ryu Karate from Chosin Chibana and Ryeui-Ryu Karate from Kenko Nakaima.

Ryuei-Ryu was a family-style that was not open to outsiders. Kenko Nakaima’s only student was his son Kenji and he had no intention of teaching non-family members. Hayashi would sit outside Nakaima’s house every day for hours, begging to become his student. He did this for many months. Finally, Nakaima relented and took him on as a student.

After several years in Okinawa, Hayashi returned to Japan in 1959. He resumed training with Kosei Kuniba.

On 17 October 1959 Kosei Kuniba, the head of the Seishin Kai Organization died. Just before his death, he asked Hayashi to lead the organization until his son, Shogo, reached suitable maturity to take over the leadership. He was appointed Technical Advisor and President of the organization.

In 1964 Hayashi excepted Yoshimi Inoue as his uchi-deshi (live-in student). As Hayashi’s uchi-deshi, Inoue’s duties included keeping the dojo, office, and toilet clean. He would also train with Hayashi for several hours in the morning and evening. In the afternoon he would help with teaching.

Inoue’s training with Hayashi consisted mainly of kihon and kumite. They frequently engaged in no-holds kumite practice. At the time Hayashi was in his early 40s and at the peak of his skills, while Inoue was still a teenager.

Inoue remained Hayashi’s uchi-deshi for around four years, living and breathing Karate. Unfortunately, he had to return to his home of Tottori, to support his family after his father became ill. He remained a devoted student of Hayashi for many years.

In 1970 Hayashi handed over the leadership of the Seishin Kai Organisation to Shogo Kuniba. He left the organisation and established the Japan Karatedo Hayashi-Ha Shitoryu-Kai, which would become a major style of Shito-Ryu. The style comprised many of the things he had learned from his various teachers.

1970 also saw the 1st WUKO World Karate Championships take place in Tokyo, Japan. Hayashi was invited to give a Kobudo demonstration during the championship. This demonstration brought him to international prominence.

Through the 1970s Hayashi-Ha Shitoryu-Kai developed into a strong Karate organisation.

At the 3rd World Karate Championships, held in Long Beach, California, Hayashi’s students Kazusada Murikami and Junichiro Hamaguchi, won gold and silver for Japan in the Men’s Individual Kumite event.

By 1978 Hayashi-Ha Shitoryu-Kai had spread around the world. There were around 40 dojos in different countries, including Japan, the United States, France, Indonesia, Italy, and Australia.

In 1985 Hayashi was invited to give a demonstration in front of 3000 spectators at Osamu Ozawa’s 5th Traditional Karate Tournament. The event was an annual tournament held in Las Vegas. It was a showcase of traditional martial arts and featured many of the top masters from around the world.

Hayashi became a prominent member of the Japan Karate Federation (JKF). He was awarded his 9th Dan by the JKF in 1995.

Teruo Hayashi died on 24th September 2004 in Osaka, Japan, from lung cancer.

Hayashi had a deep passion for Karate and Kobudo. His pursuit of martial arts knowledge was intended as a way to preserve many of the styles he had learned. His knowledge of Karate and Kobudo was second to none.

A long-time member of the JKF, Hayashi frequently traveled the world giving seminars and demonstrations on Karate and Kobudo, until his death. He also served as the Technical Chairman of WUKO/WKF. He was also Chairman of the WKF Referee Council.

Author: Patrick Donkor

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