What is This?

Hanshi wrote in his book that when he was given his san-kyu certificate, Mary Shigamoto, O-Sensei's record keeper, told him to have his certificate dry mounted to preserve the certificate. When Hanshi entered his barracks he proudly showed it to the barracks' houseboy named Rocky. Rocky, who was Japanese, told him that the certificate contains the signature of a very important karate teacher named "Gichin Funakoshi".1

The picture above is a picture of the signature section of Hanshi's san-kyu certificate showing the lower left corner. The certificate was issued by the All Japan Kempo Karate-do Promotion Society, Kyushu Alliance (Renmei) Headquarters. Draw your attention to the square of signatures; each with four sets of kanji. On the far right is Funakoshi Sensei's signature. Moving to the left of Funakoshi Sensei is the signature of Juhatsu Kyoda. Immediately to the left of Kyoda Sensei's signature is O-Sensei's signature. These signatures are in the glossary of O-Sensei's book for verification purposes.2 On the far left is the signature of Getsuzen Higa. This is not the well-known Seiko (Seko) Higa's signature, but a different person named Higa. These four signatures starting from the right are in order of the person's rank or prestige. Most of you should know the legacy of Funakoshi Sensei. Briefly, he is considered to be the father of modern karate and the founder of Shotokan. Most Chito-ryu practitioners should recognize O-Sensei's signature.

Above Funakoshi's signature is the description All Tokyo Hombu President, Advisor Shihan. Above Kyoda's signature is the description Advisor Shihan. Above Chitose's signature is the description Kyushu Alliance Hombu President Shihan. Finally, Getsuzen Higa's title is Vice President Shihan.

Higa Sensei was an Okinawan friend of Chitose's and karateka, but never became any more active in martial arts. I could not find a trail of information about Higa Sensei; however, Kyoda Sensei is a different story.

Kyoda Sensei lived from 1887 to 1968 and introduced Chojun Miyagi, who eventually founded Goju-Ryu, to Kanryo Higashionna, a.k.a. Higaonna.3 If you have seen pictures of a young Miyagi Sensei posing with another boy in swim trunks next to the sea, Kyoda Sensei is the other teen. In addition, if you have ever seen an old picture of hundreds of school children training in a large outdoor training area, the person on a platform leading the group is supposedly Kyoda Sensei who was also an elementary teacher. Kyoda Sensei is the founder of Tou'on-ryu.4 He had a dojo in Beppu in the Oita Perfecture so it is not surprising, among other reasons, to see O-Sensei Chitose in a picture with Kyoda Sensei in Classical Fighting Arts, Issue 43. Tou'on is taken from the Chinese characters for Kyoda Sensei's teacher's first three syllables (Higaonna). Thus, Tou' is for Hi ga and "on" is for the third syllable.

Kyoda Sensei was a participant with other Okinawan famous karateka in the much discussed 1936 "karate masters meeting". During this meeting, a lot of discussion apparently focused on referring to the art of empty hand fighting as "karate" in Okinawa as opposed to what the Okinawans referred to as te or ti, or the Chinese variation of toudi. If you are not familiar with the 1936 meeting, I encourage you to do some research and discover who the other participants were. A good place to start would be Unante and a simple Google search "1936 karate masters meeting".

Kyoda Sensei learned karate from most of, if not all, the same karate masters that O-Sensei received instruction. Kyoda Sensei was also designated the chief director and head instructor of the Naha branch of the DNBK as it existed before WWII and was involved with the Okinawa Perfectural Karate-do Promotion Society. O-Sensei and Kyoda Sensei were involved with the Okinawa Cultural Demonstration in Kumamoto City in the 1940's.

Hanshi Dometrich's san-kyu certificate was issued in year 29 Showa or 1954. As Mary Shigamoto suggested, he did have the certificate mounted and it is on a wall in his house.

Don Schmidt, Renshi
Yoseikan Hombu5

1 William Dometrich. Karate, The Endless Quest. Los Angeles, CA. Empire Books, 2007. [paperback p.94.]
2 Tsuyoshi Chitose. Kempo Karate-do Universal Art of Self Defense. Toronto. Shindokin International. 2000.
3 John Sells. Unante, The Secrets of Karate Second Edition. California. W.M. Hawley, 2000.
4 Mario McKenna, "Tou'on Ryu, The Karate of Juhatsu Kyoda", Classical Fighting Arts, Vol. 2 No. 20 (Issue 43 2011) and Vol. 2 No. 21 (Issue 44 2011). Tou'on is also known as To'on.
5 I spell hombu with an "m" for one simple reason. When I wrote my first test paper, I asked Hanshi why hombu is spelled sometimes with an "m" and sometimes with an "n". He told me that either way is okay and that he preferred it with an "m". A more formal reason is that there are several versions of romaji, or roman letters, to write certain Japanese words and pronunciation can vary. Sometimes you will see enpi or empi for elbow.