Re: Okinawan vs. Japanese Goju Ryu
I think that it is without doubt that Shinzato would have been the sucessor if he had survived. However, there was a successor appointed to head the organisation. At the first meeting of the Karate-do Goju-ryu Association in 1955, Miyazato was elected to head the organisation. Yagi obviously thought he should be the successor as he was the longest serving student but he received no nomination for the role. Miyagi's family later confirmed that it was Miyagi's wish for Miyazato to take over. Miyazato actually took charge of training at the Garden Dojo after Miyagi's death in 1953 and remained there until he established the Jundokan in 1957.
There was no official successor named By Miyagi Sensei. It is speculated that the closest thing Miyagi had to a senior student was Shinzato, Jinan, but he died during WWII.
Higa obviously was on good terms with Miyazato as he was the only surviving student of Miyagi to be mentioned in Miyazato's book, 'Okinawa Den Gojuryu Karate-do'.
Higa was somewhat of an 'in between' man. He was only 10 years younger than Miyagi himself and thus he was old enough to have studied with Higashionna, Kanryo who was Miyagi's own teacher. After Higashionna passed away, Higa began to study with Miyagi, arguably Higashionna's senior student. I've always wondered why Higa was not acclaimed the head of Goju-ryu after Miyagi's death, but I guess we'll never know the full story as those who do know either are dead themselves or they aren't talking.
I think that Higa probably was well established elsewhere having established his own dojo in 1931.
Apparenly Yagi had been given Miyagi's Gi and belt and may have assumed that this was the authority to take over the organisation. I don't know if politics was alive and well in karate circles back then but he had no support from his peers when the election of Miyagi's successor took place.
Yagi was acknowledged as a kata expert among his peers. He was the first chairman of the Karate-do Goju-ryu Association established on Okinawa after Miyagi's death.
Yamaguchi's role is interesting. Although we thought he was really the student of Miyagi when I started training Goju Kai years ago, I since believe he actually only trained a matter of weeks under Miyagi directly. Miyagi called him 'Gogen' or 'rough' and reading between the lines, I think Miyagi was happy to see him established in Japan. He learnt kata from one of Miyagi's students but I haven't been able to establish which one.
Yamaguchi really put Goju on the map and he focussed on the sport aspect. He added the Taikyoku kata which are based on the Shotokan version, only simplified. The Shotokan kata have real application whereas the Goju Kai version is a collection of basic techniques. Funakoshi was a highly skilled master when he developed his kata. I don't believe Yamaguchi had the same understanding at that time.
He also changed the kata quite substantially. This may have been to make the kata more appealing in the competition arena.
Sparring in the Japanese style is competition based whereas the Okinawan concept is one of close combat. Okinawan karate includes more locks, holds and throws whereas the Japanese style is at long range. Here is a quote from Miyazato's book regarding sport karate:
Personally, my journey has take me from the Japanese Goju Kai back to the Okinawan form as trained at the Jundokan. I believe that this is as close as we can get to the traditional Karate as practised by Miyagi Sensei.
"The uniqueness of Karate is that it does not regard place, gender and strength of body. I want to make a point that the training, therefore, can be done for a long time. Presently, in Okinawa, there are many Karate practitioners that guard the ancient traditions of Karate culture. They have no interest in the 'Japanised' sports Karate."
If you think you can, you can. If you think you can't, you're right.