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Ikemiyagi, Masaaki (1953-

Ikemiyagi Masaaki was born in Nago-Shi, Okinawa, on December 23, 1953. He began his training under Yagi Dai Sensei at the age of 15 in 1968. He has remained a loyal and dedicated student of Yagi Dai Sensei ever since.

Ikemiyagi Sensei has been Kancho (dojo director) of his own Meibukan Dojo in Okinawa since 1981. Endeavoring continuously to improve his martial arts, he has traveled to China, Taiwan, Indonesia, Hawaii, Brazil, Australia, and the United States to train and conduct comparative research in the various martial arts systems. Some of the systems that he has studied are other forms of karate, judo, boxing, capoeira, and various forms of gung fu. Having befriended many top-level martial artists from around the world, he is often invited and goes abroad to teach seminars. In May of 1997, he went to Rio Rancho, New Mexico to conduct a seminar for the students of his friends: Francisco Rivera-Deshi of Lau Kai Ton, "Grand Master" of Hung Gar Gung Fu, Chin Wu Athletic Association; and Lynn Yarmer-student of Francisco Rivera and Chief Instructor of the "Tracking Kenpo" system.

Challenges are a common occurrence among the Okinawan youth involved in the various martial arts systems taught in the collegiate athletics program. When these challenges came, Ikemiyagi Masaaki was always the first to answer. As a youth in Okinawa, he quickly developed a reputation as a skilled karate-ka and powerful fighter. At many of the local tournaments he would attend, competitors would often withdraw once they became aware that he was participating; not because he broke the rules, it was just that they knew they could not beat him-not to mention how badly it hurt to get hit by him. This "cute, little man," as most people would describe him, has the kind of power that most karate-ka can only dream of. Because of his teacher being known as the "the makiwara breaker," Ikemiyagi Sensei was inspired to train on the makiwara relentlessly since his start in karate training. He also has broken several makiwara. He used to enjoy this, but now it is just a hassle to replace them. Ikemiyagi Sensei keeps a heavy bag behind the "maki" so that he does not break it.

Today he is Kancho of the Meibukan Goju-Ryu, Okinawa Dojo in Okinawa-Shi and holds the rank of 8th Dan. He is one of only a handful of Yagi Dai Sensei's earlier students who still actively teach. In the past, he has served as the Riji-Cho (Director General) of both the Zen Okinawa Karate-Do Renmei and the Okinawa Goju-Kai. At present time, he is once again the Riji-Cho of the Okinawa Goju-Kai (as of December 1997).

Ikemiyagi Sensei has produced many fine students who help to propagate Meibukan Goju-Ryu in very positive ways all over the world. Under the Okinawa Dojo, he has branch dojos operating in Australia, America, Indonesia, and here in Okinawa. One of his students, Ikemiyagi Shuichi Sensei, serves as the secretary of operations for the "Okinawa Collegiate Karate Training Organization." In addition to teaching at the Okinawa Dojo, Ikemiyagi Sensei regularly travels to schools worldwide to conduct seminars and share his knowledge and experience with other martial artists. His love of travel was inspired early on when Yagi Dai Sensei took Ikemiyagi Sensei along on his trips to Taiwan. I have heard from several other sensei in the Meibukan that the only trouble Yagi Dai Sensei had on his trips to Taiwan was trying to keep the young Ikemiyagi Masaaki from fighting every challenger that came along.

Training at the Okinawa Dojo is an experience that one does not easily forget. The first thing I noticed about Ikemiyagi Sensei was that he was so kind to all of his students. The training is harsh, but his communication skills are superb. He always makes his students feel welcome, even when he is kicking them across the room. Each student is treated as an individual and as such is instructed in a manner that works best for him or her. Sensei is a very wise and open-minded man, and he allows for physical and personality differences in technique; however, "kata is not to be changed, ever." He teaches in a very traditional manner. We start with hojo undo (warm-ups) and then do all of the kihon (basic techniques); this is followed by group kata and then we end with various yakusoku kumite (pre-arranged sparring), kakie (push-hand sensitivity and strength drills), and kotekitae (arm banging). At this point, we all line up and bow out. The kids all go home, and then those adults who wish to train more stay to work on the further "advanced" skills-Sensei's way of saying that they will hurt worse. These vary from leg and body conditioning drills to attack and defense drills done back and forth across the dojo. These drills are often quite tiring, and are always painful. Sensei does not do much in the way of jyu kumite (free sparring); instead, we just work all our drills in contact range and to the level each individual has been promoted. Once a person reaches sho-dan, if he or she misses an incoming technique they will more than likely end up being knocked to the floor. Needless to say, people do not want to rush promotion in our dojo. Ikemiyagi Sensei is a wonderful teacher who does his best to help each student become stronger. He will let us all get a few licks in so that we can feel what it is like for the technique to work. Of course, he also returns a few in order to show us how the technique "feels." With Sensei, there is not an ounce of ego to get in the way of his teaching-one just has to be very careful not to get "cocky."

Those in the Okinawa Dojo have a rare and enviable opportunity to learn from such an accomplished teacher with this kind direct connection to the great masters of the past. Through his teachings and guidance, they learn pure Goju-Ryu-a precious find in the modern world of martial arts. It is a responsibility to train sincerely, behave as gentlemen of good character and integrity, and remain humble always. Sensei always says that karate should improve and enhance all the joys of life, not replace them. He stresses the importance of family and friends, and he also constantly reminds students that with power comes the responsibility to do right in all circumstances.

Ikemiyagi Sensei teaches the ways of Meibukan Goju-Ryu as he learned them from his master and teacher, Yagi Dai Sensei. He asks for nothing in return except that students train as hard as they can to become strong, while always remembering that having a kind heart shows a person's true strength.

Author: Original material from: Wade Chroninger-Chief Instructor, Meibukan Goju-Ryu, Okinawa Dojo, International Student Branch. Note: some wording modifications were made to insure clarity to students outside of the Meibukan Goju-Ryu organization.

Research Bibliography: Works Sited and / or Consulted

(1). Yagi Meitetsu, Carl Wheeler, and Brock Vickerson; OKINAWAN KARATE-DO GOJU-RYU MEIBU-KAN, (pages 17, 22, 43, 44, 46 - 49, 53, 54); Published by the authors, 1998; Printed in Prince Edward Island, Canada by Action Press.

(2). TRADITIONAL KARATE-DO-Okinawa Goju Ryu Vol.1 Fundamental Techniques, (pages 22 - 29); Published by Sugawara Martial Arts Institute, Inc. Of Tokyo, Japan, 1997, Eighth Printing, 1985, First Printing; ISBN: 0-87040-595-0; Printed in Japan

(3). Rob Monaco's Internet Site-pages: #1 , #2 , #3 ,

(4). John Porta's Internet Site-pages: #1 , Note: This article originally appeared in the Journal of Asian Martial Arts (Vol. 3, No. 3, 1994)

(5). Internet Web Site-page #1 , Article Title: OKINAWA: "Half a Century of American Military Bases and the Okinawan People;" Authored by: Tetsuo Maeda, Military journalist; (3/10/95)

(6). Alexander Lim Ko; FIVE ANCESTOR FIST KUNG-FU The way of Ngo Cho Kun, (pages 31, 32); Published by Charles E. Tuttle Company. Of Rutland, Vermont & Tokyo, Japan, 1997, first Tuttle addition; LCC Card Number 97-60011; ISBN 0-8048-3153-X; Printed in Singapore.

Reproduced with permission from the Meibukan Website at (Edited for punctuation and clarity)

To find more articles of interest, search on one of these keywords:

Meibukan Goju-Ryu, the makiwara breaker, Zen Okinawa Karate-Do Renmei, Okinawa Goju-Kai

Read more articles by Wade Chroninger

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