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YAGI, Meitoku Sensei Hanshi Judan

Meitoku Yagi (八木明徳 Yagi Meitoku, born March 6, 1912 in Naha, Okinawa - died February 7, 2003) was a karate master and Sensei. He learned Gojyu-ryu from its legendary founder Master Chojun Miyagi. YAGI Sensei was 13 years old when he first meet Master Miyagi in 1926. On April 29, 1986, Emperor Hirohito named Yagi Sensei a Living National Treasure (ningen kokuho) for his contributions to the martial arts. 


After Miyagi's death in 1953, Yagi opened his own dojo in the Daido district of Naha. He named his school of Goju-ryu Meibukan, meaning "house of the pure minded warrior." The name and crest of his school both utilise the first kanji in his given name, 明 (Mei), which has several meanings, including purity. It is made up of the kanji for sun and the kanji for moon, reflecting the duality of nature, which is inherent to Goju-ryu. Today, the main headquarters for the Meibukan school are in the Kume district of Naha.


Yagi Sensei's number one goal was for his students to promote peace, be good people and contribute to society. Meitoku Yagi began developing a series of kata in the 1970s and 1980s, which he named Meibuken kata. The first of which is Tenchi, meaning "heaven and earth." It was originally two kata, Fukyu kata ichi and Fukyu kata ni. The two kata can be put together so that if two karateka were to perform each half, an attack in the first kata would correspond with a block in the second, for example.


The Meibuken kata are different from the kata in the Goju-ryu syllabus in many ways, including having vertical closed hand chambers, and having a different yoi position, reflecting Yagi Sensei's Chinese roots, and his time spent studying martial arts there.The other four Meibuken kata represent the four guardians of the cardinal directions in Chinese mythology. As with Ten no kata and Chi no kata, the other four pair up as well to show the kata’s bunkai. Seiryu (East, Blue Dragon) and Byakko (West, White Tiger) go together, and Shujakku (South, Red Phoenix) and Genbu (North, Black Tortoise) combine. Though those are the English names generally used for the kata, Yagi Sensei once said that he never specifically chose colours for the animals.


In 2000, Yagi released an autobiography entitled The Life Drama of the Man, Meitoku.In late 2002, he was 91 and still performing demonstrations of katas. He died February 7, 2003 at 11:40 am. At the time of his death he was considered as the most senior Karateka in the world.


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