The Origin of “Egami Karate”


Commentaries by Master Genshin Hironishi.
Ex-President of Shotokai International Association with headquarters in Japan.
Was one of the last surviving 5th Dans of the 12 godan karatekas that existed by the end of the Second World War.


Our Master and father, Shoto, Gichin Funakoshi, died on April 26th 1957.

The next day we had a very urgent meeting to analyze a very complicated matter that immediately arose after his death, the Japanese Karate Association (JKA, “Kyokai”) would not assist to the funeral ceremony if they were not the ones organizing it.

The Kyokai attitude surprised us all in a disagreeable way. Their attitude was unacceptable, even more so considering the words of Master Giei Funakoshi, primogenitor of O-sensei, who insisted on the following:

“The burial of my father shall be in the hands of the Shotokai school because he had no other position than director of the Shotokan Dojo and the Shotokai school. Now that the Dojo has burnt down and disappeared, it is only logical that his burial should be in charge of the School.”

We know that in a traditional hierarchical society as the Japanese, the first-born’s wish is the one that counts most with respect to the funeral, the Kyokai requirement was not accepted.

At that moment the Kyokai agglutinated some of the main universities that concentrated a long history of karate as Keio, Takushoku and Hosei, while Chuo, Noko, Seijo, Gakushin and Senshu Universities were loyal to the Shotokai School, fully backing the organization of the funeral by the latter.

With respect to Waseda University, there was a complicated internal situation. Mr. Ohama, director of the Physical Education Coordination Department and a fellow countryman of Master Funakoshi and a very dear friend, was in charge of coordinating the funerals, while on the other hand the club had taken Kyokai’s position, actively acting on behalf of the latter. They could not boycott the funerals ignoring Mr. Ohama’s intentions, but neither did they offer to back up the reconsideration of the Kyokai. Thus they were present at the meeting, but did not give their opinion on the subject.

This complicated and tense environment preceded the meeting where around 50 karatekas were convened. I was present as a moderator limited to that position, Mr. Egami and his helper Yanagizawa (Chuo representative) would be in charge of convincing the Kyokai that they should reconsider their posture.

All through the meeting Mr. Egami repeated his call to reason in name of the first-born son, Giei, with his short and precise sentences, very much convinced that it would be a grave mistake if they did not assist to the funeral. The Kyokai, on the other hand, right from the beginning maintained a rigid attitude: “If the funerals were not organized by the Kyokai, they would not assist….”

Hours and hours passed and no agreement was reached. It was clear that for the Kyokai there was no possibility for reconsideration. The representatives of Takushoku, Keio and Hosei left taking their clubs flags they had left for the pre-funeral ceremonies. They informed that they would be needing them the next day for some university ceremonies.

After long hours of discussion, we were forced to reach a conclusion, whatever it was: “The assistance, or non-assistance, to the funerals would be a personal decision…” We had no other option than to do it that way.

The only reason sported by the Kyokai consisted in the fact that Master Funakoshi, besides being President of the Shotokai School, had occupied the position of highest technical counselor of the Kyokai. As I have before stated, I acted as a moderator at the meeting and I limited myself to that role. I made no comments on the subjects; I only commented as a personal statement to correct an error which was the following:

“The Kyokai does not recognize the Taikyoku (a kata) and therefore it is not practiced by them. Kyokai says the kata was created by and perfected by Master Gigo (Funakoshi). But this is not true. The Taikyoku is the result of many years of training by many people. Mr. Kuguimiya (Takushoku) is one of those karateka. During the Second World War “Karate-Do Kyohan” was published (the Second Edition), book written by Master Funakoshi, as we all know. In the supplement of that book the author presents the Taikyoku under his own signature. Once that is said, I call to your attention one thing: if the Kyokai considers Master Funakoshi as the highest technical counselor and they don’t practice the Taikyoku, this would be incoherent.”

After that encounter what had to happen happened. In December of that year Mr. Nakayama came to see me and we had the following conversation:

“Become a member of the Kyokai. Stop your subtly and become a member”.

To this invitation my response was final.

“Before inviting me to enter the Kyokai you have to do two things: Go to the house of the Funakoshi and ask them to forgive you. How can I become part of the organization that boycotted our Master’s funeral? And you will also have to recognize the Taikyoku as official. If you fulfill these two compromises, I will reconsider.”

“Well, you may be right. But let’s not discuss now. Join the Kyokai and later on impose your reasons”.

(The Kyokai, at the moment of our conversation, already recognized the Taikyoku as created by Master Funakoshi. But they still did not practice it, something I could not understand).

“Look Nakayama, we are karate technicians. We have trained together and shared hard times. I hope you understand me. You have students and if people say to them: you are from the association that boycotted the burial of Master Funakoshi! That hurts you, doesn’t it, no? Go to the home of the Funakoshi and beg for forgiveness. It’s a mere formality, I know, but you must do it”.

This was the last time I saw Mr. Nakayama.