Kogawa Karate-do has a long traditional history with influences from many forms of Bujutsu beginning in Okinawa transferring through Japan to America becoming what it is today. The Kogawa Bushido Kai was formed in 1999 teaching traditional karate-do, Kogawa Karate-do, in downtown Milledgeville Georgia.
Kogawa Bushido Kai began its Martial Art journey training in Motobu-ha Shito-ryu/Koto Su Ha Shito ryu with Mr. Gene Williams and Mr. Joseph Ruiz. And simultaneously training in Itto Tenshin ryu Kenjutsu and being introduced to Yamate ryu and Sankaku ryu Aikijutsu and Zen Shoto Kai Karate-do with Mr. John Rudy. Through Mr. Rudy and the study of Itto Tenshin ryu Kogawa Budo began training with Mr. John Hamilton in Itto Tenshin ryu and Nito Tenshin ryu Kenjutsu and Sho Ha Shorin ryu Karate-do. Our most recent martial influence is Mr. Lenny Jordan of which we train in Nihon Shorin ryu Kenshin Kai and Kobudo.
Sokon Matsumura (c.1809-1901)
Sokon Matsumura (Matsumura Orthodox Shorin-ryu) (as told by Mark Bishop, 1989) also called Buseitatsu, Unyu, BUSHI Matsumura or Bucho was born into a well known Shizokufamily at Yamagawa village, Shuri. He was a good scholar, noted calligrapher and learned Tiin his youth. It is said that he learned the use of the staff from Sakugawa SATUNUSHI (Tode Sakugawa) who had studied the art in China. While working as a bodyguard to the last three successive Ryukyuan kings, Sho Koi, Sho Iku and Sho Tai, Matsumura twice visited Fuchouand Satsuma as an envoy on affairs of state. At Fuchou he was able to visit several Chinese boxing schools and study under the military attaches, Ason and Iwah. At Satsuma, Matsumura is said to have been initiated into the Jigen-ryu sword fighting system under the master, Yashichiro Ijuin. After retirement, Matsumura taught karate at an open space in Sakiyama village, Shuri. Among his students were: Anko Itosu (1832-1916), Kentsu Yabu(1866-1937), Chomo Hanashiro (1869-1945), Gichin Funakoshi (1868-1957), Chotoku Kyan(1870-1945), Ryosei Kuwae (1853-?), Anko Asato, Kiyuna PECHIN, Sakihara PECHIN.
Before Sokon Matsumura’s death he presented a letter to his pupil Ryosei Kuwae who then passed it on to his son. The letter reads:
“If you want to practice fighting arts, you must know the true meaning of them, therefore I have resolved to state the facts; please examine them closely.
So, the way of learning and the way of fighting arts have one and the same purpose. There are respectively three kinds of learning and fighting arts. The three kinds of learning are namely: 1. reading, writing and arithmetic; 2. exegetics; 3. the study of Confucianism.
The first one includes calligraphy, composing words into sentences and being able to calculate the totals of rice stipends required by important people. Exegetics is the teaching to people the sense of duty ascertained through the Chinese classics, having the way of profound knowledge and teaching by example. Both the former schools of learning are distinctive as being just literary arts, however Confucianist learning brings about sincerity, pureness of heart and a sense of propriety in all things. Hence the governing of one’s house (and even one’s country) well will result in world peace. This is true knowledge, Confucian knowledge.
The three kinds of fighting arts are: 1. those of court instructors 2. nominal styles 3. the true fighting arts.
The court instructors’ styles are practiced in a very unusual way; movements are never the same, formless and light, becoming (like women) more and more dance like as the proponents mature. The exponents of nominal styles do not practice regularly, they come and go here and there, contriving how to win, quarreling with and perhaps inconveniencing people. Most serious of all they cause bodily harm, making their parents and family ashamed of them. With the true fighting arts you will not be distracted, so contrive for achievement, govern your own heart and wait for your enemy to be disarrayed; quieten yourself and wait for enemy to become agitated; snatch your enemy’s heart and you will conquer him. As your proficiency increases distinctiveness will come, you will be capable of everything, you will not be disoriented, you will know the place of filial piety. The spirit of a ferocious tiger and the speed of a flying swift will develop naturally so that you will be able to overpower any aggressor.
A wise sage wrote in the Chudokansha the following so called “Seven Martial Virtues”: Martial artists are forbidden to act in an unruly manner; soldiers should practice admonition, help people, distinguish themselves and safeguard the people so that the populace can live in peace and have abundant wealth. Therefore learning and fighting arts have the way of truth. Court instructors’ styles and nominal styles are useless, so consider the true fighting arts carefully. I think you should seize the opportunity to act accordingly with restraint, so that if you practice with the previous mentioned facts in mind, it has been said that, the lower abdomen will become the storehouse of one’s energy.”
Anko Itosu (1832-1916)
Anko Itosu (as told by Mark Bishop, 1989) was born at Yamagawa village, Shuri and from an early age studied karate under Sokon Matsumura. Well versed in both Chinese and Japanese classics, he became the secretary (or scribe) to the last Ryukyuan king, Sho Tai, until the monarchy was dissolved in 1879. The next twenty years of his life are vague, it is believed by Katsuya Miyahira that Itosu learned karate from Shiroma (Gusukuma) of Tomariand a Chinese who was living at Tomari. Chozo Nakama states that Itosu had learned the Kata Chiang Nan from a Chinese who had lived on Okinawa, and later remodeled and simplified this into five basic Katas, calling them Pinan because the Chinese Chiang Nan was to hard to pronounce (these became the Heian Katas of Funakoshi Gichin’s Shotokan of Tokyo). Horoku Ishikawa of Shiroma Shito-ryu typically came up with the theory that “Itosuhad based his five Pinan Katas on an analysis of the Kata Kusanku Dai.”
In April of 1901 Itosu introduced karate to the Shuri Jinjo Elementary School as part of the physical training curriculum. But at first karate was considered too risky for young children, so Itosu removed the dangerous techniques and simplified his other Katasand sparring into mostly punch and block techniques. In 1905 Itosu became karate teacher at the Prefectural Dai Ichi College and the Prefectural Teacher’s Training College. Three years later he wrote a letter for the Prefectural Education Department concerning an idea that led to introduction of his karate to all Okinawan schools and later its spread to the Japanese mainland, where it eventually played an essential role in the militaristic indoctrination program. The letter reads as follows:
“Tode did not develop the way of Buddhism or Confucianism. In the recent past Shorin-ryu and Shorie-ryu were brought over from China. They both have similar strong points, so, before there are too many changes, I should like to write these down. 1. Tode is primarily for the benefit of health. In order to protect one’s parents or one’s master, it is proper to attack a foe regardless of one’s own life. Never attack a lone adversary. If one meets a villain or ruffian one should not use Tode, but simply parry and step aside. 2. The purpose of Tode is to make the body hard like stones and iron; hands and feet should be used like the points of arrows; hearts should be strong and brave. If children were to practice Tode from their elementary school days, they would be well prepared for military service. When Wellington and Napoleon met they discussed the point that “tomorrow’s victory will come from today’s playground.” 3. Tode cannot be learned quickly. Like a slow moving bull, that eventually walks a thousand miles, if one studies seriously every day, in three or four years one will understand what Tode is about. The very shape of ones bones will change. Those who study as follows will discover the essence of Tode: 4. In Tode the hands and feet are important so they should be trained thoroughly on the Makiwara. In so doing drop your shoulders, open your lungs, take hold of your strength, grip the floor with your feet and sink your intrinsic energy to your lower abdomen. Practice with each arm one or two hundred times. 5. When practicing Tode stances make sure your back is straight, drop your shoulders, take your strength and put it in your legs, stand firmly and put the intrinsic energy in your lower abdomen, the top and bottom of which must be held together tightly. 6. The external techniques of Tode should be practiced, one by one, many times. Because these techniques are passed on by word of mouth, take the trouble to learn the explanations and decide when and in what context it would be possible to use them. Go in, counter, release; is the rule of Torite, (releasing hands). 7. You must decide whether Tode is for cultivating a healthy body or for enhancing your duty. 8. During practice you should imagine you are on the battle field. When blocking and striking make the eyes glare, drop the shoulders and harden the body. Now block the enemy’s punch and strike! Always practice with this spirit so that, when on the real battlefield, you will naturally be prepared. 9. Do not over exert yourself during practice because the intrinsic energy will rise up, your face and eyes will turn red and your body will be harmed. Be careful. 10. In the past many of those who have mastered Tode have lived to an old age. This is because Tode aids the development of the bones and sinews; it helps the digestive organs and is good for the circulation of the blood. Therefore, from now on, Tode should become the foundation of all sports lessons from elementary schools onward. If this is put into practice there will, I think, be men who can win against ten aggressors.
Anko Itosu. Meiji 41, Year of the Monkey (October 1908).”
The reason for stating all this is that it is my opinion that all students at the Okinawa Prefectural Teacher’s Training College should practice Tode, so that when they graduate from here they can teach the children in the schools exactly as I have taught them. Within ten years Tode will spread all over Okinawa and to the Japanese mainland. This will be a great asset to our militaristic society. I hope you will carefully study the words I have written here.
Anko Itosu died in 1916 at the age of 85 and in his wake left an impressive list of students: Kentsu Yabu (1866-1937), Gichin Funakoshi (1868-1957), Chomo Hanashiro (1869-1945), Choshin Chibana (1885-1969), Kenwa Mabuni (1889-1952), Shinpan Shiroma (1890-1954), Shigeru Nakamura (c.1890-1971), Moden Yabiku (1882-c.1945), Anbun Tokuda (1886-1945), Chojo Oshiro, Jiro Shiroma and Kanken Toyama.
Kanryo Higaonna (1853-1917)
Kanryo Higaonna (as told by Mark Bishop, 1989) (sometimes written Higashionna) was born at Nishimura, Naha, was the fourth son of Kanyo Higaonna, the ninth generation successor of the Shin family line. Higaonna’s child name was Moshi but he was also nicknamed Ushi-chi; the Japanese pronunciation for his Chinese name was Shin Zen Enko. He was described as, “small but fast moving with powerful hips,” according to some sources he learned Ti when he was a youth and according to Shoshin Nagamine, from the age of twenty he learned Tode from Seisho Arakaki (Mayia Arakachi-gwa) of Kume village, Naha. Naha, at that time, was a comparatively large business center with many Chinese and Okinawans involved in the Naha-Fuchou trade. Contact with the Chinese traders meant that more than a few Okinawans had a chance to learn Chinese boxing and among these, some became well known for their expertise in technique; others, who learned a lot of Katas and few fighting techniques, were known derogatorily as exponents of “Hanchin-di (“lazy mans boxing”). Higaonna was hard pressed to find a good teacher because boxers of that time were not readily absolved to pass on their secrets and demonstrations of one’s techniques was considered bad form. According to Eiichi Miyazato, Higaonna thus decided to journey to China and at the age of 23 or 24 he finally got a passage to Fuchou on an introduction from Yoshimura UDUN. According to Katsumi Murakami in his book “Karate-do to Ryukyu Kobudo” Higaonna as a young boy had actually been an aide to Yoshimura UDUN and traveled to China with him several times. Sources are confused about whom actually taught HigaonnaChinese boxing in China. Several instructors are named: Ryu Ryo Ko (possibly Ru Ru Ko of Ryuei-ryu) and his assistant Wan Shin Zan (possibly Wai Shin Zan). From Wan Shin Zan Higaonna learned the essence of Hsing-i boxing.
Practice at Higaonna’s do-jo was tedious with the first three or four years doing only Sanchin and to those who persisted much was taught. According to most sources Higaonna called his style Shorie-ryu (lit. Enlightened Spirit Style); however it became known as Naha-te, to distinguish it from the karate taught at Tomari and Shuri. Juhatsu Kyoda was often told by Higaonna that “karate was not meant for hurting people, but for helping society, and karate needs technique, and karate needs a purpose.” Higaonna is sometimes quoted as having said: “In the martial arts spiritual improvement is important; so remember that if anything in life blocks your way turn aside and go around it.” Higaonna’s sparring was described as light with extraordinary footwork and low, fast kicks. Despite his active life, Kanryo Higaonna died of illness at the early age of 63 and was succeeded by his top disciple, Chojun Miyagi.
Chojun Miyagi (1888-1953)
Chokki Motobu (1871-1944)
Kosei Kokuba (1900-1959)
Kosei Kokuba was the youngest son of a branch of the Okinawan Royal Family, the Sho Shi Family, was born in 1900, in the Kokuba Village or what is now Naha City, Okinawa. He began training in Karate-do as a young boy with Choki Motobu. He also studied with Kenwa Mabuni, Ryusei Tomoyori, Seisho Arakaki, Gokenki and many other martial artists. In 1924 he left his homeland of Okinawa for the larger islands of Japan. For several years he lived near Tokyo in the mountain village of Fuji-Yoshida-Shi, one of the small town located at the foot of Japan’s awe inspiring Mount Fuji. In 1940 Sensei Kokuba located in Osaka where he opened a business and also began formal teaching of the Okinawan Karate-Do of Founder Motobu-ha Shito-ryu. On June 6, 1943, Sensei Kokuba founded the Seishin Kan Do-jo. He took the name partly from the kanji for the temple located at the end of the street where he lived, Shotennoji. The character Sho can be read as Sho or Sei and the meaning is “pure”. Sensei Kokubabelieved that true Karate-Do comes from the heart, so he called his dojo – SEISHIN or “pure heart” Do-jo. The Seishin Kan Do-jo became a famous meeting place for budo men in Osaka and the training was with the men who are the founders of Karate-do as it is taught in the world today. Sensei Kokuba continued to teach in the style of Sensei Motobu and when Motobu died in 1947, Sensei Kokuba became the second Soke or “Family Head” of the Ryu-Kyu Motobu-Ha Karate-Do. orn of the royal family and a samurai, Sensei Kokuba believed in the old traditions for samurai training. He trained his only son, Shogo, in the true samurai tradition. Sensei Kokuba continued to train and teach until he became ill in 1956. After his death in 1959, young Kosho became the third Soke of the Ryu-Kyu Motobu-Ha Karate-Doand renamed the Seishin Kan to Seishin Kai.
Kenwa Mabuni, Soke (1889-1952)
Kenwa Mabuni was a close friend and martial arts contemporary of Chokki Motobu. They both studied karate under Anko Itosu and Kanryo Higaonna; from these two martial art instructors the name Shito-ryu was derived. Mabuni had first called the style Hanko-ryu (Half-hard style). Later, in remembrance of his two teachers he took the Chinese character “shi” (“ito” in Itosu) and the Chinese character “to” (“higa” in Higaonna) and combined them to form “shito”, according to some sources this was in about 1937. Mark Bishop, 1989, states that there are two types of Shito-ryu taught in Okinawa: Mabuni Shito-ryu and Shiroma Shito-ryu(Shinpan Shiroma, 1890-1954).
Shogo Kuniba, Soke (1935-1992)
Shogo Kuniba was born at Fugi-Yoshida City, Yamanashi Prefecture. His father was Kosei Kuniba, who had studied karate with Chokki Motobu. In 1940, Kosei Kuniba opened a do-jo in Osaka. It taught the Motobu-ha Karate-do and was later called the Seishin Kan do-jo. Shogo Kuniba began his karate study at his father’s do-jo that same year at the age of five. The do-jowas joined by Kenwa Mabuni and Ryusei Tomoyori who taught there in return for room and board. Mabuni sensei is the founder of Shito Ryu karate.
By 1947, after the hardships of World War 2, Shogo Kuniba achieved his black belt. He was awarded his Sho-dan by Master Mabuni. After three more years of study, he earned his Ni-dan from Masters Mabuni and Tomoyori. He was fifteen. In 1952, he was promoted to San-dan by Master Tomoyori and began to diversify his studies. He went to Sakai City where he began to study Mugai-Ryu Iaido with Soke Ishii Gogetsu.
In 1955, at the age of 20, Shogo Kuniba, already studying for fifteen years, earned his Yon-dan in Shito-ryu by Master Tomoyori. In the same year, he went to Naha City, Okinawa, where he began training at the Matsubayashi Shorin Ryu do-jo of Master Shojin Nagamine. While in Okinawa, Sensei Kuniba undertook serious study of Kobudo. With Master Shojin Kosha, he studied the use of the Bo and Manchaca. With Master Junko Yamaguchi, he studied the Tonfa. By 1958, Shogo Kuniba had achieved 5th Dan in Motobu-ha Karate-do, 4th Dan in Iaido, 6th Dan in Kobudo and been awarded the position of the first office manager for the Zippou Karate-do Rengokai. He was 23.
But not all went well for Master Kuniba. On October 17, 1959 his father, Kosei Kuniba, died. Shogo then became Soke for Motobu-ha Karate-do by succession. In this same year, Master Kuniba re-named the do-jo Seishin Kai and called the style “Motobu-ha Shito-ryu.”
In 1962, Soke Kuniba was promoted 6th Dan in the Nippou Karate-do Rengokai, 6th Dan in Iaido and 7th Dan in Kobudo. In 1966 he became 7th Dan in karate. In 1968, he relieved Shihan Terou Hayashi as the head of Seishin Kai. By 1973, at the age of 38, Soke Shogo Kuniba had achieved 8th Dan in Karate, Iaido and Kobudo. He was the youngest Master to have won such prestige.
Soke Kuniba was considered one of the premier martial arts instructors of Japan. There are perhaps only three or four other Masters that will equal his expertise. His tragic death after a long battle with cancer on July 14, 1992 leaves a void in today’s martial arts world. Soke Kuniba was promoted to 10th Dan, post-humously, by the Dai Nippon Budo Kan Kai.
Richard P. Baillargeon – 8th Dan (1930-1989)
Joseph Ruiz – 8th Dan
Joseph R. Ruiz is the founder of the International Karate Kobudo Union (IKKU). This union was founded to further the instruction of the Shito Ryu Karate, Koga Ryu Kobudo and Katsu Ryu Kempo systems. These systems were taught to Soke Ruiz during a life-long study of martial arts. Joseph R. Ruiz was born in Hawaii in l943. In l955, he began his karate training with Sensei Tommy Morita in Wahiwa, Hawaii. He soon transferred to Sensei Kyoshi Aihara’s do-jo in Honolulu where he studied the Zen Shoto Kai. system of Karate. He was awarded the rank of Ni-dan (2nd degree black) at age 22. Shortly thereafter, Sensei Ruiz joined the U.S. Army and was stationed in Korea. There he was able to travel to Japan and train at the main school for Zen Shoto Kai Karate-do. While there Sensei Ruiz trained under Master Kanki Izumikawa of the Goju Ryu Karate, Koga Ryu Kobudo and Katsu Ryu Kempo system. He soon discovered that Master Aihara had also studied under Master Izumikawa as well as Master Egami of the Shoto Kai Karate System. In l972, Sensei Ruiz moved to Augusta, Georgia. There he met Richard P. Baillargeon. Soke Baillargeon was the U.S. representative of the Motobu-ha Shito-ryu Seishin Kai Karate Union (SKKU). The SKKU was under the leadership of Soke Shugo Kuniba. Sensei Ruiz and Soke Baillargeon became good friends and Sensei Ruiz joined the Seishin Kai. In l974, Sensei Ruiz tested for 4th Dan in Shito Ryu Karate-Do under Soke Kuniba and was awarded that rank. In l974, Soke Baillargeon withdrew from the Seishin Kai and found the National Karate Jiu Jitsu Union (NKJU). Sensei Ruiz was invited to be the assistant Director and was awarded the title of Shihan Dai. He remained in this position for 15 years. During that time, he was confirmed by Soke Kuniba as 6th and 7th dan and awarded the title of Saiko Shihan. In l985, Saiko Shihan Ruiz withdrew from the NKJU and formed the International Karate Kobudo Union (IKKU). In l990, he was awarded 8th dan and given the title of Hanshi with the approval of Soke Kuniba.
Gene Williams – 6th Dan
Mr. Williams has been practicing karate since 1968. He began his training in Macon, Ga. under Koto Higoshi of Matsubayashi Shorin ryu and received sho-dan from him in 1973. While living in Nashville, he practiced with the Wado ryu dojo until he met Richard Baillargeon and Joe Ruiz, students of Shogo Kuniba of Seishin Kai. When Mr. Baillargeon formed the NKJU in 1974, Mr. Williams joined as a student of Joseph Ruiz. In 1980, Mr. Williams opened the Milledgeville Bushido Kai in Milledgeville Georgia teaching a type of Motobu-ha Shito-ryu. In 1985, Mr. Ruiz left the NKJU and formed the IKKU, International Karate & Kobudo Union. Mr. Williams received the rank of go-dan in Koto Su ha Shito ryu from Mr. Ruiz. In 1993, Mr. Williams left the IKKU and joined Richard Kelley of the Kita Kaze Bujutsu Kai as an assistant director and was promoted to roku-dan in Shito ryu by the dan board of Kita Kaze.Mr. Williams taught Motobu ha/Kotosu ha Shito ryu in Milledgeville, Ga. from 1980 until 1999, when he turned his dojo over to his Yudansha. Mr. Williams continues to train in a form of Shito-ryu.
John Rudy – 5th Dan
John Hamilton – 9th Dan