Mark Weatherill, along with Eric Williams travelled all the way to Okinawa to train with and interview Shimabukoru Kenei Hanshi 10th Dan, Chairman Okinawa Goju Karate Do Goekai. Here's what they talked about:
MW: How old were you Sensei when you started training in Karate and who was your first instructor?
KS: I was born 1st December 1942 and now I'm 76 yrs old. I was 16 yrs old when I started goju ryu karate, my first instructor was Seko Higa. When he passed away in 1966 I started training with Eiichi Miyazato at the Jundokan dojo.
MW: How many students trained at the dojo with Miyazato sensei?
KS: There was around 30 students, I used to train with Takeichi Sakima.
MW: How were the lessons conducted back then?
KS: We use to start with Jumbi undo (warm up) Keiko undo (conditioning) then kata. It was free training at the start then group kata with Miyazato sensei.
MW: Is there a goju ryu kata you enjoyed most and can you say why?
KS: Sepai kata, because it suited my body structure.
MW: What was the position you held in the Jundokan association and can you tell us why you left ?
KS: I was third in line to Miyazato Eiichi and Iha Koshin. This question is very difficult to answer. (Sensei did not want to disrespect anyone so asked to respectively move to the next question)
MW: You formed your Goekei association, can you say what the aims for the future are?
KS: It is to preserve the teachings of my Sensei Miyazato Eiichi, and to keep the Direct Way of Goju as passed to him by Miyagi Chojun Bushi the Founder of Okinawan Goju Ryu Karate Do.
Many Okinawan Sensei seem to be changing the Techniques of the Kata that O’Sensei passed down to me.
MW: Ganaha Hiroshi Sensei 9th Dan is your Technical Adviser. Can you say why he holds this position within the Goeikai Association?
KS: Because he has been taught the same as me and has the same aims as myself. No change to the way we were taught by O’Sensei.
MW: You are now 76 yrs old, are you still training and how is your health?
KS: My health is very good and I still practice daily and also still work on my farm. (in the opinion of this interviewer, he does look in very good health)
MW: Myself and Eric Williams Sensei 7th Dan, are the first to visit from Great Britain, with the purpose of training under your instruction via the invitation by Ganaha sensei, can you say what are the requirements for future foreign students, who would like the opportunity to train here and maybe join the Goeikai?
KS: All foreign students and instructors would be made welcome at the Goeikai Honbu, yet must be assessed in order to keep the standard of the Goeikai’s aims and Miyazato Linage Okinawan Goju Ryu Karate Do the same for everyone.
This then protects Miyazato Eiichi true teachings. You are taking an authentication re-grade in order to progress within the Goeikai, all overseas students should expect the same, so we can keep the standard as a standard and something to be proud of in your study of Karate Do.
This interview was conducted by Mark Weatehrill 6th Dan at the Goeikai Honbu dojo in Nanjo-Shi , Okinawa. We would like to thank Shimabukoru Sensei for his time answering our questions for this article.