Kanki Izumikawa

Izumikawa-Kanki-01_e-737x1024-1Kanki Izumikawa

April 16, 1908 – November 1, 1967

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.

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.

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.

Article by Katsuya Izumikawa: https://www.goju.com/news-articles/425-kanki-izumikawa-biography – October 2010