Shigeru Egami

Shigeru Egami was born in the Fukuoka Prefecture the year 1912, one of Gichin clip_image001Funakoshi Sensei’s earliest students, but more than that, he was one of his most faithful and correct followers. This was surely the reason why O-sensei left his organization, Shotokai, in his hands. Egami met Master Funakoshi when he was 18 years old, the moment he began studying at the famous Waseda University, there he helped to establish its Karate Club. Before that occasion he had already practiced Judo, Kendo and Aikido. clip_image002He followed his Master together with Yoshitaka and Shimoda around all Japan staging exhibitions, thus helping to make Karate a known Japanese martial art.

He was elected Member of the Committee of Evaluation by Gichin Funakoshi, the youngest instructor to receive that honor. He taught Karate-Do at the Gakushuin, Toho and Chuo Universities.

After Master Funakoshi’s death in 1957, Shigeru Egami began his work trying to change Karate’s ill reputation as a „deadly martial art”, something O-sensei tried to do all his life. His idea was to make it perfectly clear that Karate-do is a fight against yourself, with self-sacrifice, thus the philosophical aspects of the art could be transported to all other life activities. The essential concept was self-fulfillment, above the fighting abilities. As a direct consequence of this idea, Egami eliminated many concepts about victory in combat, replacing them with a search of physical harmony, and an equilibrium of the human being through the practice of Karate-do.

clip_image003When you consider the Karate-do that Egami developed through his years of studies, the mechanics of some techniques varied, the striking zone, the movements, etc. In broad strokes, the method became more fluid, more continuous. A strong emphasis on relaxation and the development of a perfect kime, focusing all the energy on one point. Shigeru Egami also stressed the idea of a single strike and consequently eliminated, through profound studies, all techniques that could be considered inefficient or doubtful, using the criterion that any technique should be in harmony with the nature of human beings.

Master Egami never compromised on one essential aspect of Karate-do, that was to avoid all aspects of sports oriented combat and Karate. He considered that competitions modified too much, the training and spirit of Karate-do, this should be perfectly clear once you had the insight that Karate is much more than winning combats.

Though it is clear that the technique showed some evolution, things that maintained themselves invariable and that continued with Egami, were the spiritual and formative aspects of the art, he followed on the path laid down by his Master, revitalizing it and perpetuating the DO. The greatest legacies of Egami are exactly these: avoiding commercializing, diluting and destroying Karate through sports competitions and the profound studies he did on the internal and philosophical aspects of the art.

In his later life, many sicknesses haunted Master Egami. A cerebral embolism had him three months without eating, this put a test on his strength, he came to weigh only 37 kilograms.

January 8th, 1981, pneumonia ended the life of this great Master. Due to historical information, it can be concluded that his premature death was, at least partially, a result of his strong and tough training, something that left clear marks on him. Shigeru Egami sacrificed much of his health and well-being to attain a truth, a legacy that today many people around the world maintain, following and respecting the lines drawn out by him.