2012 – A year in review

Our annual end of year piece where we take the opportunity to reflect on the triumphs and other significant events of the past 12 months and look forward to what next year has install for us...

Following the success of 2011 and the in particular the IOGKF Black Belt Gasshuku in Fuzhou in China, Higaonna Sensei’s main focus turned to the preparations of the 2012 Okinawan World Budosai.

Higaonna Sensei worked hard to organise an event to commemorate the passing passing of his own instructor, Sensei Anichi Miyagi and to honour him with IOGKF members from all over the globe in the birthplace of Karate – Okinawa.

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Higaonna Sensei & Terauchi Sensei released video clips inspiring members to train hard and attend the event, which took the efforts of countless people and organisations to pull off.

Due to these commitments Higaonna Sensei very rarely travelled in the first half of the year and IOGKF senior instructor across the globe took up the challenge of continuing to teach major Gasshuku’s. None more so, than Sensei Tetsuji Nakamura, who this year alone visited over 14 different countries to teach Gasshuku’s.

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As the world prepared to go take part in the once in four year event that is the World Budosai, tragedy struck with the unexpected passing of Sensei Bernard Cousin, IOGKF France Chief Instructor.

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Sensei Cousin had been a senior member of IOGKF International, virtually since it’s creation in the late 1970’s. He achieved the rank of 7th Dan from Higaonna Sensei, not to mention a Shihan licence from the Master himself. He was a well respected and much loved instructor at many European and World Gasshuku’s and his presence will be sorely missed.

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Weeks later, around 800 Karate-ka gathered in Okinawa for the World Budosai event. The countless hours of careful planning came together in way which did absolute credit to the efforts of Higaonna Sensei and the IOGKF Okinawa team.

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With the stage literally set, Higaonna Sensei took command of a week that will go down in the history books. At the age of 74 years old, Higaonna Sensei’s passion, power and performances of Goju-ryu techniques were awe inspiring, not to mention the excitement generated from the senior instructors who supported him in this event.

Everyone from the smallest child to the most experienced black belts trained with the best instructors in the world and developed their body, mind and spirit in a great atmosphere.

But the biggest milestone of the event was what many referred to as ‘the passing of the flame’. At the Budosai Chief Instructors meeting and in front of all his senior students, Higaonna Sensei announced his retirement from the position of IOGKF World Chief Instructor and declared his intentions to take on an advisory role in the International Organisation.

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He then moved to appointed Sensei Tetsuji Nakamura, IOGKF 7th Dan, to World Chief Instructor and entrusted him with the responsibility to protect and pass Goju-ryu on to the next generation. When announced to the IOGKF & Goju-ryu World, there was mass approval for Higaonna Sensei’s decision & Nakamura Sensei’s appointment.

In the role of Vice-Chief Instructor, Higaonna Sensei appointed Sensei Ernie Molyneux and Sensei Henrik Larsen.

The Budosai was an overwhelming success and people from more than 30 different countries returned to their homes enriched by the experiences they had shared with one another.

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Following the success of the Budosai, the IOGKF worldwide moved into the second generation of its existence. Nakamura Sensei continued to travel the world to instruct, along with other instructors such as Sensei Ernie, Sensei Henrik and Sensei Bakkies to name a few.

The next major event of the year was the Euro-asia Gasshuku in Moldova, where Higaonna Sensei was hosted by Sensei Viktor Panasiuc, country chief instructor. The Gasshuku attracted over 500 participants and Higaonna Sensei became the recipient of a rare award, when he was present with the ‘order of honour’ by the president of Moldova.

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As incredible and rare this moment was, it was not long before Higaonna Sensei received a second award, this time in his home of Okinawa. Higaonna Sensei received a cultural award from the government for his efforts to preserve Goju-ryu Karate and spread it to the world.

With that goal having been achieved, noticed and recognised 2013 becomes a year where we continue the legacy set forth by Higaonna Sensei under the guidance of he and the leadership of Nakamura Sensei.

Higaonna Sensei will be teaching at major Gasshuku next year and Nakamura Sensei will also be visiting many countries, along with other IOGKF senior instructors, so you have the opportunity to continue to experience traditional Karate at it’s best!