"Ho Go Ju Don To - All things of this world are made up of positive and negative (Go and Ju)"

Bubishi - The origin of the name of Goju-Ryu

IKGA South America - Our History
In memory of Ryuzo Watanabe Hanshi
By Gonzalo Ramirez Ortiz - Kyoshi

Ryuzo Watanabe Shihan

Recounting 40 years of evolution of a country or an institution is not easy task. It is harder still when an institution has overcome very adverse and changing circumstances. I will try to illustrate this for those who have not yet had the opportunity to learn about the history of the South American Block.

Ryuzo Watanabe Sensei resided in Sao Paulo, Brazil. He had practiced Goju Ryu for more than ten years before he separated from his teachers, and for a short time after was an independent instructor. Then in September, 1975, an envoy of Gogen Yamaguchi Kaiso managed to contact Sensei Watanabe and, thanks to his management, our Sensei finally joined the International Karate Do Goju Kai Association (IKGA). Therefore, we can say that the South American Block was born in Brazil in 1975.

For over 20 years, the South American Block was led by Ryuzo Watanabe Sensei who later earned the title of Hanshi Shihan and was appointed Vice President of IKGA. The Block member countries at this time were: Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Uruguay.

Ryuzo Watanabe Shihan

In December 1998, our Master left us for ever, and his departure was really a calamity. I use this term because he was not only a great master of karate. He was also a caring person with very strong character, wise, and kind. Above all things, Hanshi Ryuzo Watanabe was a worthy man. With such qualities, the task of finding a successor was almost impossible.

Without our Master, the South American Block endured catastrophes that had very serious consequences. For many years, Brazil remained separated from the IKGA. Argentina, Chile and Uruguay had to unite in a brotherhood and work hard to restore order to reach their destinies. So for many years, we had to have frequent meetings with Saiko Shihan Goshi Yamaguchi. Despite the fact that the purpose of these meetings was to resolve political problems, they also allowed us - Shihan Andres Avila, Shihan Carlos Gonzalez and I - to investigate aspects of the complex IKGA technical program that we did not yet know; all under the guidance of Saiko Shihan.

Finally, with the good skills of many people, the South American Block took the path it has today. I suppose for reasons of age and seniority, I was appointed Director of the South American Block retroactive to 2001.

Later, an instructor in Brazil, Luiz Antonio Kotsubo Sensei felt that it was time to apply for reinstatement of his country to the IKGA. Representing many other Brazilian instructors who supported him, he made the relevant applications to the South American and world authorities for the IKGA. This initiative was considered by all of us as historically important and worthy of fervent approval. Happily for all members, Brazil was once again united in the brotherhood of the South American Block; with Luiz A. Kotsubo Shihan as their representative.

Ryuzo Watanabe Shihan

Thus reinforced and consolidated, the South American Block began a new institutional phase, both political and technical, now that the IKGA program was definitively incorporated into our training and the requirements for promotion of degrees. As a result of our institutional stability, within a few years, two other countries aspired to integrate into our Block - Sensei David Gerardo Gonzalez representing Colombia, and later Sensei Yhonder Alejandro Avila representing Venezuela. Each of these studied in our program for more than a year, and finally won the right to represent the latter two countries affiliated into our Block which today comprises six countries: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Uruguay and Venezuela.

According to this story, and at the suggestion of Saiko Shihan Goshi Yamaguchi, we have fixed the birth of the "Bloque Sudamericano" to the moment Hanshi Watanabe became a member of the IKGA: in 1975. Therefore, in this year 2015, we celebrate our 40th anniversary of existence and we all must agree that these were many and very long years. This anniversary deserves to be commemorated with a seminar with our Saiko Shihan Goshi Yamaguchi in a true celebration of Goju Kai.

The host country of this event is Colombia, led by Sensei David Gerardo González, and will take place in the city of Cali from September 7 to 10, 2015. It will include four days of training led by Saiko Shihan and authorities of the South American Block.

See you there!

Photos and article courtesy of Gonzalo Ramirez Ortiz Kyoshi, IKGA South American Block website

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