By Sareeta Ganesan – IOGKF Canada.

This years Miyagi Chojun Festival was unique in that it was a celebration of many major IOGKF events. These included Miyagi Anichi Sensei’s life, Higaonna Morio Sensei’s 70th birthday and 30 years since the establishment of the IOGKF. It will go down in history as one of the IOGKF's most memorable Gasshuku…

The Miyagi Chojun Festival was held in Burlington, Ontario,Canadaon April 30th to May 3rd, 2009. IOGKF Canada hosted this special event, special because this was to be a dual celebration; the IOGKF’s 30th anniversary and the celebration of Morio Higaonna Sensei’s 70th birthday.

Just two days prior to the event however, the sad news of An’ichi Miyagi Sensei’s passing reached Tetsuji Nakamura Sensei (host of the event). Shock and sadness followed from all IOGKF members worldwide, and Sensei Higaonna’s presence was then in question.

MCF carried on as planned however, and following various introductory remarks on the opening day, Nakamura Sensei turned to all of us and announced that in honour of An’ichi Miyagi Sensei we would all perform Gekiai Dai Ichi 78 times (once for each year of his life).  All levels of karateka in that hall trained hard together, and proved that the spirit and energy of An’ichi Miyagi Sensei lived in each of us.  He would have been proud.

That same spirit and camaraderie was shown throughout the next few days of training under the guidance of Sudo Sensei (Venezuela), Sensei Villa (USA), Sensei Han (USA), Sensei Marchant (UK), Sensei Allen (USA), Sifu Kho (White Crane style Kung Fu, Canada) and of course our own Nakamura Sensei (Canada).

Higaonna Sensei did attend following An’ichi Miyagi Sensei’s funeral in Okinawa.  He was, I believe, saddened by the loss of his Sensei, but proud to see the true IOGKF spirit when we all trained together under his guidance and scrutiny.

New friendships were made as we had karateka from all over the world attending the event.  We had people from the UK, Mexico, Sweden, Venezuela, Israel, Germany and the USA to name a few, and even a new member from Saudi Arabia!

More friendships were made at the IOGKF Talent Night, which I was happy to be a part of.  I didn’t know there was so much hidden talent among us!  Eric Higaonna’s rendition of “Into the Night” by Santana was memorable!!   The highlight for me was the wonderful serenade that Sensei Linda Marchant (one of our talented judges) received, courtesy of Canada’s own Sensei Mac Newton.

Higaonna Sensei’s birthday celebration was another wonderful event that we all attended.  Many tributes came from all several sensei and we all watched a wonderful video on his life in karate and, ultimately, in the IOGKF.

There were many other opportunities to get to know one another at impromptu dinners out, meeting up for drinks or just talking after training.  I even got to know some more karateka at the very large black belt grading that was also held during the gasshuku.  We were also privileged to have a Masters’ Demonstration which wowed the crowd of spectators and karateka alike.  Demonstrations of skill, technique and culture were well received.

I believe that the true Goju-Ryu spirit was shown throughout this MCF during the training, the celebrations and fun, but most of all through the teachings of Higaonna Sensei as An’ichi Miyagi Sensei’s spirit flowed through him.

Let’s all plan to meet up again at the next MCF in Spokane, Washington.

Respectfully submitted by,

Sareeta Ganesan
IOGKF Canada

View a montage of the 2009 MCF Masters Demonstrations here!