He became a student at the dojo of Choshin Chibana Sensei, which was located at Nakijin Goten of Yoshitsugu Teishi; there he received influences from the dojo's senior pupils, such as Kangi Shoya, Yasuyoshi Kamikosu, Tsuguyoshi Miyagi, Chozo Nakama and Shinji Tawada. I have heard that Master Miyahira also learned karate at the First Junior High with Anbun Tokuda Sensei and his teacher who taught him the spirit of martial arts that has kindness among rigor. Both Chibana Sensei and Tokuda Sensei were among the best students of Anko Itosu Sensei, the master of the Shuri style (Shuri-te). This situation enabled Master Miyahira to learn the traditional katas of the Shuri-te both at the town dojo and at school.
Traditional Shuri-te focuses on Atemi. The central idea is that blocking (uke) means not only to defend oneself against an attack by his opponent, but also to simultaneously crush the attack. Idealistically, one should train the hands and feet so as to achieve the condition in which strength and flexibility coexist, just as steel has both hardness and springiness in it. Thus, using a punching board (makiwara), one should hit it more than two hundred times a day with each hand, mixing several kinds of punching (tsuki) methods, aiming at simultaneous occurrence of offense and defense.
Master Miyahira trained himself, closely following the Shuri-te's traditional methods. In 1948, soon after the end of the World War II, he opened a karate dojo in his hometown of Nishihara, intending to train the youth to be strong persons who could live through any difficulties. Master Miyahira set his dojo's rules as follows:
Try to perfect one's own personality
During the same period, Master Miyahira took office as the president of the Okinawa Shorin Ryu Karate Association and strived to make the association grow. Invited by the Brazil Shorin Ryu Karate Association, the Argentina Shorin Ryu Karate Association, and the North America Shorin Ryu Shidokan, he energetically visited these places to teach and popularize karate overseas. In 1982, he became a councilor of the Japan Karate Federation and devoted his energies to help make Japanese karate grow. He also took part in the Japan-China International Martial Arts Tournament as the leader of the Japanese team, making an effort for the goodwill exchange. In the karate division at the 42nd National Athletic Meet in 1987, the Okinawa team led by Master Miyahira, finished first overall, the victory earning Master Miyahira a special award for his distinguished service by the Okinawa Amateur Sports Association. Then came this year's award for distinguished services in martial arts.
For the past several decades, I have been inspired by Master Miyahira's persistent effort to attain the higher ground in karate and in karate only, wishing to some day surpass him. It seems, however, that every moment I feel as if I can catch up with him, he is already gone far ahead of me; it is like building a ladder to reach the sky. I wonder if Master Miyahira is teaching me, with his own way of life, that there is no end for the quest for perfect karate.
As an elder in the world of karate, Mr. Miyahira is in charge of the Okinawa
Karate Conference and still gives his students lessons as well. In several
symposiums held by the Karate Shinbun newspaper and the Ryukyu Shinpo
newspaper, and also in his lectures, Mr. Miyahira has openly stated his
own ideas about the future of Okinawa karate. Since those ideas are very
suggestive, we will quote one of them here:
When the karate lecture series for the general public took place for the first time (February~October, 1991), Master Katsuya Miyahira (President of the Okinawa Shorin Ryu Karate Association) taught the Shorin Ryu to about seventy people in one of the medium sized conference rooms of the Ryukyu Shinpo. Despite such a difficult theme as the lecture about karate, the seemingly small conference room was filled with eager karate fans and athletes. Master Miyahira explained to his audience the history of the Shorin Ryu and its characteristics by speaking about Choshin Chibana, his own master. The main difference between Mr. Miyahira's lecture and others' was that he mentioned Choshin Chibana's family tree in great detail. Choshin Chibana came from Suridennai and belonged to the high-rank warrior class. Out of his family line appeared many talented men who later became leaders of the society in different fields. One reason why Mr. Miyahira talked about the details of Chibana's life is to let his audience clearly understand the Shorin Ryu; another reason is probably based on his own unique philosophy for karate.
Mr. Miyahira often teaches the "virtue of martial arts" to young
people. At the end of his lecture, he explained the value of karate, quoting
the "Seven Virtues of Martial Arts" from one of the Chinese
military strategy books. The quotation reads as follows:
The teaching of Itosu, however, does not insist on such Puritanism in karate; it seems to say that the more respectable a karate expert is, the more successful he should be socially and economically. Here we can see the will of Master Miyahira who, by having learned from Master Itosu, now instructs his students in accordance with his ideas: "Following the reason and the law" and "coexisting and co-flourishing".
Mr. Miyahira speaks about the Shorin Ryu as follows. In 1908, his teacher Anko Itosu submitted a petition to the prefectural officials of Okinawa to introduce karate into the regular public school curriculum. This petition of Itosu is called the "Ten Articles of Karate". Mr. Miyahira says that this is all one should know about the Shorin Ryu. Though it may be a little too long, we would like to present its contents here:
In the introduction, Itosu tells the history of karate ( China Hand ). It begins with the following sentences: "Karate came from neither Confucianism nor Buddhism. It started as the Classic Shorin Ryu and the Shorei Ryu, both of which came from China. Since these two methods have their merits and demerits, it is important to preserve and inherit them as they are". The paragraph continues as Itosu describes the purposes and training methods of karate, insisting that it be taken into the school education.
His first article says that though karate's aim is to strengthen one's body, the main reason for this is not to meet one's own needs, but to serve the society. Thus a karate athlete has to know that even if he were to be confronted with violence, he should never hurt his opponent.
The second article tells that karate strengthens bones and muscles of the body, making it as strong as iron and stone, so as to use the hands and feet in place of a spear or a sword. Itosu claims that such achievement is possible if one begins training his body when he is still in elementary school. Itosu then says that it would help Japan to build the society of soldiers, the ideal of Itosu's time when the whole nation was working hard to enrich and strengthen the country.
The third article explains that though one cannot be a karate expert in a short time, a mere one to two hours vigorous daily training would make one's physique incomparable to a normal person in three to four years. From that point on, many would continue pursuing the career of karate for life.
The fourth article claims that since the hands and feet are the most essential weapons in karate, one should train his by punching a makiwara every day. The point is to punch it one to two hundred times a day.
Itosu thus keeps explaining the essence of karate. His fifth article describes the correct positions; another points out the wrong training methods, warning, for example, that too much tension in muscles can harm the blood circulation. We can understand Mr. Miyahira's claim that this letter of Itosu alone works as the bible of the Shorin Ryu.
The characteristics of the Shorin Ryu are detailed in the "Ten Articles of Karate", the petition submitted in 1908 by Master Anko Itosu, Master Choshin Chibana's teacher, to the education department of Okinawa Prefecture. The Shorin Ryu teaches stances and breathing methods that are natural and relaxed. It also teaches a unique method of taking in power and releasing it: one takes in power from inside outward. This method makes concentration of power easy, which, combined with the quickness of movement, increases the force of an attack. The basic training is the Naihanchi: one trains his hands mainly by punching a makiwara to increase the destroying force of an attack. Also when attacked, one should smash up the opponent as well as defend himself; this enables one to learn the technique of attack/defense combination.
In Okinawa Prefecture, there are currently 24 dojos that belong to the Okinawa Shorin Ryu Karate Association, for which Mr. Miyahira acts as the president. More branch dojos exist outside of Okinawa and abroad, as the popularity of the Shorin Ryu is increasing worldwide.
At the Bick Symposium Mr. Miyahira said: "It is important to develop the unique characteristics of each ryu of karate, but the most important thing today is to create an instruction plan that can be applied to any ryu. In order to achieve this, we have to educate our future instructors and found a karate university. It is possible to hold a world championship in three to five years. We should organize a task force to make the idea come true".
The Record of Karate Career (simplified)
This historical article was written by Morinobu Maeshiro, one of Mr. Katsuya Miyahira's long-time and devoted students, to commemorate the occasion of Mr. Miyahira's receipt of the 1989 Award For Distinguished Services from the Japan Martial Arts Council.
By Morinobu Maeshiro (Secretary-General of the Okinawa Shorin Ryu Karate Association)
Miyahira Katsuya (Shorinryu)
Thoughts on Sparring
I teach my students to be concerned with the mastery of the traditional
kata and unless they master the kata they can never hope to become proficient
in the study of karate-do. When a student reaches a point in their development
where they have a good understanding of the kata, I then introduce the
techniques of semi-free sparring. These are prearranged techniques that
test the student's ability to judge distances and application of blocks
and counterattacks. Later we introduce a limited type of free style sparring
where we limit the areas to be attacked.
Thoughts on Kata
Thoughts on Karate Styles
Miyahira Katsuya, Chibana Choshin's senior student, has no children. He has one brother who studied karate but he is a company president and has very little to do with karate. Miyahira still teaches Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights. He has always taught like that and has not changed his teaching times in over thirty years. On Okinawa, Miyahira is a recognized training partner of the great Motobu Choki.
Miyahira Katsuya has a habit of punching the tatami when bored, tired or nervous. This habit goes back to his childhood. In the 1930's Chibana took Miyahira to visit Itosu's granddaughter that still lived in the Itosu family home. They sat and talked at great lengths about the great Itosu. Finally, they started talking about the difficult times at the time of Itosu's death in 1915.
At this, Miyahira began to lose interest and unconsciously began to pound
the tatami with his fist. The granddaughter immediately stopped her conversation
with Chibana and looked at Miyahira. She then said, "That's a funny habit
you have there. My grandfather use to do the same thing when he was bored!"
The other 15% are called jodan shomen geri (high front kicks) and are performed with the ball of the foot. The toe-tipped is usually not performed or practiced in Japan due to the difficulty of the kick. The Japanese prefer the ball of the foot kick and the instep kick due to the fact that they feel it is easier to "master." Nowadays, it is also rare to find an American Okinawan stylist who works on the toe-tipped kick. They, too, have sought to learn "the easier way."
Even today in Okinawa, the native practitioners still prefer the toe-tipped kick with the instep kick as a standby technique. Both of these kicks are diligently practiced on the makiwara and with training partners. The toe-tipped kick is performed straight in with the back and head straight. Tradition also indicates that when bringing the foot up for the kick, that it must be brought up to the opposite knee with the kicking foot pointed to a 90 degree angle forward (toward your opponent) before actually snapping the foot outward.
3. In learning the basic techniques, learn to apply them, adopt them and finally transform them to your own taste but always according to the correct theory of basic techniques.
4. You should listen to and accept the corrections of the more senior or advanced students.
5. Try to assimilate everything good in your peers and use it to correct that which is inconsistent in you.
6. When teaching you should always be kind but firm and strict with your juniors.
for Proper Conduct In The Training Hall
2. Never judge or take a person lightly.
3. Accept with an open mind the opinions and remarks of others, if they prove to be earnest, just and correct.
4. Be honest, fair and true whenever you ponder over or reason out a problem or theory.
5. When you are not training, quietly sit by the edge of the dojo and watch the activities of your fellow students and how they are corrected.
information was given to me by Iha Seikichi Sensei (of Lansing, Michigan)
and his good friend, Miyazato Sensei from Buenos Aires, Argentina. It
was initially written in Japanese and was translated into Spanish. I translated
the Spanish version into English.
Copyright, 2000 2010, by the North American Beikoku Shido-kan Karate-do Association. All rights reserved. No part of this web site may be reproduced or distributed in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the Association and/or author.