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Yagi, Meitoku (1912-

In 1963, Yagi Meitoku (now referred to as Yagi Dai Sensei), the most senior student of Miyagi Sensei, was chosen by Miyagi Sensei's family to receive the Menkyo Kaiden (naming him official successor to the system) along with the master's karate gi and belt. He was chosen by virtue of his extreme loyalty to Miyagi Sensei, his character, and his knowledge and ability in Goju-Ryu. (1 - p. 49), (3 - # 3)

Yagi Dai Sensei was born on March 6th, 1912. He is a descendant of the original "36 families" who arrived in Okinawa from China in 1392 and established a settlement here. He began his training with Miyagi Sensei in1926 at age 14. Initially, he had to do chores for his teacher to prove his loyalty and seriousness of desire to train. Once he had earned his way to become a student, he started his training. (1 - p. 43, 48), (3 - # 3)

For the first year of his training, he was taught only Sanchin Kata. Every student was required to be proficient in Sanchin before they were allowed to begin training other kata. The training sessions were long and brutal, but he never gave up. When he visited the local bathhouse, the local men would often comment about the bruises on his body, saying they could tell that he was training with Miyagi Sensei. (1 - p. 48), (3 - # 3)

The following is an excerpt from the new book put out by Meitetsu Yagi and two senior Meibu-Kai Sensei in Canada:

"Miyagi's training in Karate was very hard, and he taught only seisan and seienchin [beyond the required sanchin kata] kata. But when Yagi Meitoku Dai Sensei was only in high school, Miyagi Sensei said, "I taught other senior disciples only seisan and seienchin Kata, but I will teach you all of the kata before I forget." So Yagi Sensei learned the complete Goju-ryu system from Miyagi." (1 - p. 48)

Yagi Meitoku was known as "the makiwara breaker." He could break a typical punching board at will, and occasionally sought out a particularly tough makiwara to break when others said that it could not be done. Yagi Dai Sensei remained a faithful student of his master, training and learning from him right to the point of Miyagi Sensei's passing in 1953. After Miyagi Sensei's death, Yagi Dai Sensei continued to teach in the Daido district of Naha. Yagi Dai Sensei has made the Miyagi family truly proud of their decision to select him as successor to the Goju-Ryu system. (1 - p. 49, 53), (3 - # 3)

Yagi Dai Sensei formed not only the Meibukan School of Okinawa Goju-Ryu (his immediate karate family) but also the Okinawa Goju-Kai in 1956 (an association that includes and helps propagate all Okinawan Goju-Ryu styles). (1 - p. 48, 53)

Yagi Dai Sensei is one of very few karate-ka ever to receive the 4th Order of Merit. Emperor Hirohito presented him with this title, "Living National Treasure," on April 29th, 1986, for his outstanding contributions to karate-do. Yagi Dai Sensei was later awarded the "First Okinawan Karate Prize" in 1993, and on August 29th, 1997, he was declared an " Intangible Cultural Asset" by the Government of Okinawa. (1 - p. 22, 48)

Yagi Dai Sensei is known and respected by karate masters world wide; even Gogen Yamaguchi, the creator of Japanese Goju, recognized Dai Sensei Yagi as the rightful heir to Miyagi Sensei's system. Yamaguchi Sensei visited Yagi Dai Sensei in Okinawa several times to compare kata and to receive instruction in Okinawa Goju-Ryu. (1 - p. 17), (3 - # 3)

In addition to all of his ventures in the "hard-hitting" world of karate-do, Yagi Dai Sensei also excels in many softer endeavors, making him a perfect example using a healthy balance of "go" and "ju" to enrich one's life.

In 1988, he was the Japanese National Champion of Chun-Ji (the strategy based game of Chinese Chess). In 1989, he was not only Japanese champion, but World Champion as well. Along with his love of games, music is another of his creative pastimes. He regularly plays the piano and even learned to play the violin. He also learned to read and write in the Chinese kanji as well as the normally used "Japanese" kanji, and now writes poetry about karate-do and other subjects in the Chinese characters. Along with all of these wonderful achievements in his personal life, Yagi Dai Sensei also excelled in his professional life. He had a long and successful career working for the Okinawan Government and closed his illustrious work history by retiring as the Superintendent of Customs. (1 - p. 48), (3 - # 3)

Despite all of these accomplishments, Yagi Meitoku Dai Sensei has remained a humble and genuine person. For years, he spent each morning sweeping away the litter from the path of the children before they passed by his home on their way to school. In life, he is a gentle and kind man with all whom he encounters. In training, he can be harsh and will accept none but each individual's best effort. He has not only maintained the integrity and purity of Miyagi Sensei's Goju-Ryu, but he has greatly helped to propagate and enrich all the systems of Okinawa Karate-Do by providing an example for others to follow. (3 - # 3)

Through tireless training and studying of kata and technique of Goju-Ryu as well as other systems, Yagi Dai Sensei has developed kata and training methods, which are now used in the Meibukan. These methods are unique to the system and go a long way in giving Meibukan practitioners an "edge" in the practical application of karate. One aspect of Meibukan Goju Ryu is the amount and quality of "body conditioning" involved in the training. Meibukan offers many unique "old-way" methods based on the training and sharing of information that Yagi Dai Sensei accomplished during his many visits to Taiwan and the gung fu masters there. These wonderful insights into the training of karate-do are one of Dai Sensei's precious gifts to those who are fortunate enough to be in the family of Meibukan Goju-Ryu.

Yagi Dai Sensei is now retired from active teaching, but is still very active in the capacity of an advisor for the Zen Okinawa Karate-Do Renmei and the Okinawa Goju-Kai. He resides in Naha-Shi, Okinawa in his home at the location of the Okinawa Hombu Meibukan Dojo-the Hombu Dojo was moved to the Kume district from the Daido area in 1957. At least twice every year all of his closest students gather so that Yagi Dai Sensei can instruct and talk with them to continue their knowledge and understanding of his teachings. (1 - p. 54)

Yagi Dai Sensei has ensured the integrity and continued vitality of Goju-Ryu Karate-Do by teaching his disciples the ways of Goju-Ryu as he learned them from Miyagi Sensei. He has cultivated many fine men into skilled karate-ka. First, his sons, Yagi Meitatsu and Meitetsu-who now head the operations of the Hombu Dojo in Okinawa-as well as other highly skilled karate-ka who began training with him as far back as the mid-fifties: Tamaki Yushun, Senaha Shigetoshi, Ishiki Tadanori, and Ikemiyagi Masaaki in Okinawa, and a fortunate few who have been able to train with Yagi Dai Sensei outside Okinawa; the most famous among them is Anthony Mirakian, who began his training in Meibukan in 1957.

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:

Goju ryu,karate, karate-do, Miyagi,makiwara breaker,

Read more articles by Wade Chroninger

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