Kanki Izumikawa Biography

This Biography was written exclusively for our News Letter by the current leader and youngest son of the Master.   ………J.L. Coleman

Biography of Kanki Izumikawa

Date of birth:  April 16, 1908 (Meiji Era)

Died:  November 1, 1967 (Showa Era)

Kanki Izumikawa was born as third son of Kanpo Izumikawa in Makishi-cho, Naha-shi, Okinawa-ken, Japan.  He started to learn fundamentals of karate from his elder brother at the age of eight years and moreover, he received his training from his grandfather Kanchu Izumikawa who was one of the best students of Sokon Matsumura, a master of Shurite, Okinawa.

At the age of fifteen years, he became a student of Chohatsu Kyoda who was one of the best students of Kanryo Higaonna and began to learn Goju Ryu.  Also, he learned Okinawa kobudo (traditional weapon Okinawa martial art) from his cousin Kantoku Izumikawa since he was a little child.

At the end of the Taisho era, the friend of his elder brother had a karate seminar at his birthplace and he learned karate from the instructors from different styles of karate.

At the age of twenty (1928, Showa Era, year 3) he started to receive the training of Goju Ryu from Seiko Higa.  In 1936 (Showa Era, year 11) he migrated to Tenian, Saipan, Palau Island on the South Sea and taught karate to local tribes as the assistant manager of Higa Seiko.  At that time, there were many leading karate masters migrated from Okinawa to Palau Island and he was one of them who played an active part in teaching karate there.

In 1937 (Showa Era, year of 12) he manuscripted the "Bubishi" and received an approval to become a formal successor of Goju Ryu karate.  In 1938 (Showa Era, 13) he migrated to the mainland of Japan, Kawasaki city, Kanagawa pref., as the first instructor of Goju Ryu karate who came from Okinawa Island and started to put his efforts to contribute for the recognition of Goju Ryu karate in Japan.  In 1938, April (Showa Era, 13) he opened his dojo, "Goju Ryu Karate Do Kenkyu Kai" in Kawasaki City and began to teach karate.  Next year, 1939, he renamed his dojo, "Goju Ryu Karate Do Kenkyu-Kai, Senbukan" and began in earnest to teach as 1st. head master of Senbukan.

After the end of the war, with the expansion of the organization, he again renamed his dojo as,"Goju Ryu Karate Do Senbukan" and afterwards, when his first son, Hirofumi Izumikawa became the successor, the naming of "Senbukan" changed to "Senbukai" to this day.

In 1942 (Showa Era, 17) he received the 'Renshi" from Nihon Butoku Kai (Japan traditional martial art association) and received the title of Master of "Hanshi" (10th dan) in 1957.

In 1957 he participated the foundation/establishment of "Nihon Karate-do Rengokai (Association)" and in 1967; he received the title of the Master of "Hanshi" from this organization.

Back in 1941 (Showa Era, 16) October 14, he performed "Suparinpei" as the master of Goju Ryu at the "Okinawa Scito Karate Do Sogo Enbu Taikai (means All Okinawa Legitimate Karate Exhibitions)" that was held at the grand hall of Rinpo Kan in Tsurumi, Yokohama, Japan.

After the war, he also taught Goju Ryu karate to the American soldiers at the U.S. military base which was located at Haneda, Tokyo (near Kawasaki) and it led to the chance for the karate popularization in foreign countries (especially in U.S).  In 1950, he was interviewed by US Warner Patty News, NBC TV, Reuters Communications and so on and this was the first time that Japanese karate was introduced in the international news in foreign countries.

In the 1960's (from July to September 1964) Kanki Izumikawa visited twice to the United States, Hawaii for the purpose to give the guidance in regards to the correct way to perform original traditional Okinawa Karate in Hawaii Senbukan.

In his second visit, Hawaii Senbukan hosted karate exhibition.  At that time in Hawaii, Okinawa karate was misinterpreted such as to break boards with full force/power or other things.  Therefore the most anxious plan to perform karate at this exhibition was to relay the wrong message that was to break the boards even by Siroobi and to implant the students/audiences that this was true original traditional Okinawa karate.  This was why his visits were quite valuable and meaningful to Hawaii karate do.

The karate exhibition became roughly adopted by the newspaper and TV in Hawaii and he received the honorary letters of thanks from the State of Hawaii Governor.

At his dojo, he taught the techniques which are able to face against big American soldiers because he was a very small man. With his small body, his special skill was "Tenshin" (quick and smooth footwork) and in his training at dojo, he always tried to walk with his heels up and toes down like the cats walking with the tips of toes and it was said that his movement was faster than cats.

He also studied shoutei kumite (infight techniques) that was developed in his younger age and created the technique of the unique approaching offense and defense kumite style and taught them to his two sons.

To be more specific about this technique, it is to catch opponent's first movement quickly by entering with soft power technique and uses one inch punch.  Because if you use with hard power, it causes a crash between your power and opponent's power.  Therefore, in order to avoid this, you must use the technique of soft method.  That is to say, by doing so, there is a technical characteristic in avoiding not to make opponent's first power reactions.

Shoutei kumite will be connecting, in other words in Okinawa karate, "To get things done not striking others by not being struck by others" means spiritual enlightenment where old Okinawan karate masters finally reached in conclusion by training.

When his second son, Katsuya Izumikawa, third master of Senbukai, visited Okinawa for the first time, which was right after returning to Japan from US occupation, he had the chance to meet his father's childhood friends who remembered well about his father when he was a child.  His childhood name was called Taro and he was a nimble and mischievous child.  They told the interesting stories such as follows:

● Taro jumped high up and kicked off the bowler hat of the passenger who was riding on a jinrikisha ( a carriage/vehicle driven by human).

● Landed o the ground by jumping/kicking a ceiling and then spinning his body.

● Ran at the stone fence with his body/foot sideways.

However, he advised not to use the upper kick (jodan geri) when deshi (disciples) were playing kumite.  He educated / taught differences in show kumite and real fight kumite.  Furthermore, at dojo, he always made contact with his deshi (disciples) with soft berated manner within the strictness and enjoyed talking about various subjects while drinking ocha (Japanese tea) with them after the training.  He told mostly the stories such as the scuffling / fighting of his adult age, but always ended up saying them to avoid in doing so.

Here, let me introduce about two interesting episodes when he was young:

● One is the story when his close friend was involved in the trouble with yakuza (Japanese mafia) and was kidnapped.  It happened while he was staying in Osaka.  To help his friend, he made a raid on yakuza's main house (building) with sai (one of karate's instruments) stuck in his waist and two sais in his hands and performed the kata using sais in front of the yakuza boss and then stuck (by throwing) the into the floor.  The boss was quite impressed/amazed by his performance and courage and released his friend.

● Other is the story when he was teaching in the island of South Sea.  He was found by local tribes when climbing the palm tree and trying to pluck off a coconut.  Natives of the island were waiting under the palm tree with swords on their hands and to punish him when he comes down.  He thought if he get off just as it is, he will be captured and be cut off his neck and body.  But then he came up with an idea to turn his body upside down and started to go down with a smile in his face.  This way he can be ready to take a posture from getting attacked by the enemy.  Of course, the tribes were quite surprised by his sudden posture and finally welcomed him with applause and nothing happened.

This is exactly what Okinawan karatekas saying, "To get things done, not striking (fighting) others by not being struck by others," and is the story that might represent Okinawa karate master's way of philosophy and living attitudes at that time.

In 1967 (Showa, 42), November 1st. regretfully, Kanki Izumikawa died at the age of 59 years old.  During his living time, he truly poured his soul and heart into the expansion / popularization of Goju Ryu in mainland and produced many excellent disciples not only in domestic but also overseas.  His best disciples are Sosui Ichikawa Sensei, Japan Goju Ryu Karate-do Sousikan, Tsutomu Takato Sensei, branch officer in Otaku, Tokyo, Busen Arakawa Sensei, first nunchaku master in Japan, Juichi Sagara Sensei, ex. Japanese famous pro wrestler, Antonio Inoki’s brother, San Paulo Karate-do Renmei, Kazuhito Murakami Sensei, Branch Manager of Hawaii Senbukai, Noriyuki Moshimaru Sensei, famous Aikido master,Hyotaro Harada Sensei, Senbukai Seishinjigu (currently named, Senbukai Seiyu Rengo).

Twenty eight years in mainland, while keeping Okinawa traditional Goju Ryu, he put his efforts deeply into searching the advancement of Goju Ryu style and reached a high level of karate do and created / developed his own unique techniques.

After his death, his first son Hirofumi Izumikawa succeeded to second master o Senbukai , but he died at the young age of thirty nine years old in 1982 (Showa, 37).  Incidentally, he has the records of continuation victory at All Nihon Karate-do Senshu Ken Taikai, Kata Tournament organized / sponsored by Nihon Karate-do Rengokai from years 1963 thru 1968.  After the death of second master, his second son Katsuya Izumikawa succeeded to third master of Senbukai and is still Adhering / conveying Goju Ryu traditional style that was inherited from his father and brother.

(Written by Katsuya Izumikawa)

October 2010

Editor’s Note; This was retyped from a difficult to read scan of the original.  I apologize for any misspelled names.