April 2015 News
The Karate World lost a true pioneer this past week. Anthony Mirakian Sensei was the first Westerner to be promoted to Black Belt by YAGI, Meitoku Sensei and he was credited with introducing North America to Meibukan Gojyu-ryu in 1960. Please read the obituary below......
MIRAKIAN, ANTHONY of Watertown passed away in his home on March 31, 2015. Beloved husband of the late Helen (Bozkourdian) Mirakian. Cherished father of Doreen Mirakian of Watertown. Son of the late Ruben & Vartouhi (Zakarian) Mirakian and brother of the late Estella Akopian. Anthony was born in Havana, Cuba in 1933. He graduated as valedictorian of his class in Cuba. He entered the U.S. AirForce and served in Okinawa where he learned his skills in martial arts. He immigrated to the U.S. and moved to the Watertown area where he met and married Helen Bozkourtian in 1966 and began his life as an American citizen. His daughter Doreen was born in 1967. He worked for Raytheon during the day and taught karate at night and weekends at his Okinawan Karate Academy in Watertown. He was a karate pioneer introducing Okinawan Goju-ryu karate-do to the united State in 1960. A passionate and energetic exponent of traditional karate, Mr. Mirakian taught what he called "the true art" at his academy. Mr. Mirakian was the first Westerner taught by Grandmaster Meitoku Yagi and the first to receive a black belt from him. Sensei Mirakian's academy in Watertown is the North American headquarters of the Meibukan Goju-ryu Karate-do Association based in Kume, Naha City, Okinawa. He received many accolades and awards during his 52 years in the martial arts field. There will be a visitation period on Saturday, April 4 from 9:30-10:30 a.m. followed by a chapel service in the funeral home by Rev. Arakel Aljalian from St. James Armenian Church and ending with interment with military honors at Ridgelawn Cemetery in Watertown. Relatives and friends are respectfully invited to attend. Memorial contributions may be made in his memory to St. James Armenian Church, 465 Mt. Auburn Street, Watertown, MA 02472.
I was very fortunate to train under his guidance on a few occassions over 25 years ago and also to spend time in Okinawa with him and his students in 1990. This article was given to me from him to share with students passoniate about Okinawan Karate-do.
Brief History of Okinawan Goju-ryu Karate
by: Sensei Anthony Mirakian
What is known as Karate today was brought from China into Okinawa during the T ng Dynasty (618-906 a.d.). This martial art from China was combined with the Okinawan native fighting of self defence, Okinawan-te. Through development and refinement of fighting techniques on Okinawa, Karate reached its highest peak of perfection at the turn of the 20th. century.
In the United States and elsewhere in the world, Japan is called the home of Karate; but in Japan, Okinawa is called the home of Karate. In Japan and other countries, Karate is practiced as a sport, but on Okinawa, Karate is practiced as a way of life (Karate-do). Okinawa is the real home of Karate.
The four major styles of Karate on Okinawa are: Goju-ryu, Uechi-ryu, Kobyashi Shorin-ryu and Matsubayashi Shorin-ryu. Goju-ryu is the only style that consists of hard and soft, slow and fast movements, which are performed with deep abdominal tension breathing. Every movement is one of studied symmetry and grace; head, hands, body and feet move in smooth co-ordination and harmony. Okinawan Goju-ryu Karate-do is an unique martial art requiring utter observation and concentration. It is based not on only speed, strength and co-ordination, but also on science and logic. Many years of constant training are needed to become proficient in Goju-ryu Karate. Serious Karate practicioners train their entire lives; this is known as practicing Karate as a way of life, or Karate-do. This daily practice of Karate practice will keep the student physically fit, will develop mental discipline, and will strengthen the spirit.
Okinawan Goju-ryu Karate is traced back to the great Okinawan Grand Master Kanyro Higashionna, who travelled back to Fukien province, China, in 1866 and spent over twenty years training there under the famous Chinese Kempo master Lui Lui Ko. Master Higashionna introduced a new school of Karate into Okinawa when he returned.
In 1915 Master Higashionna passed away leaving Chojun Miyagi, his top student, as successor on Okinawa. Master Chojun Miyagi further improved and develop the theory and techniques of Karate, and founded the Goju-ryu style around 1930. He is considered the greatest Okinawan Karate Master of all time and he was teaching and promting Goju-ryu Karate up to the time of his death in 1953.
Master Miyagi's family designated Mr. Meitoku Yagi as his successor and heir to the Goju-ryu system of Karate on Okinawa, because of his great knowledge and skill. Meitoku Yagi Sensei is the foremost living Okinawan Goju-ryu Karate Master in the world. He teaches the original Okinawan Goju-ryu forms and techniques handed down from its founder, Chojun Miyagi. Master Meitoku Yagi is the president of the Meibukan School of Goju-ryu Karate-do at Naha City, Okinawa, where he still continues to teach.