#15       June, 2001

There will be no 'Ya-me! ' ( Finish!) for Setoguchi Sensei.

―A Karateist who conquered cancer.―


Our old friend Michio Setoguchi is a Karate Sensei.
He is "Hachi-dan"(8th dan) of Nihon Karate Shotokai, and "Nana-dan"(7th dan) of Japan Karate-do Federation.

This month, I would like to introduce him on my web-page.
I hope you will be encouraged by his karma.

Michio Setoguchi was born in Karatsu in 1941, as the second son of the late Masayuki Setoguchi and the loving mother Yuki , who is 92 years old now and living with him. Michio's brother Hiroyuki is also a Karate Sensei, teaching at several universities in Tokyo.
Michio's family members are Kazuko, who has been a patient and understanding wife for 35years, two daughters Ayako and Sayori, and a son Takenori who is also a Karateist. Michio is a grandfather of 4 sweet children.

After graduating from Karatsu Higashi Highschool, he entered Hosei University in Tokyo, and there he earnestly learned Karate which he had started at the age of 13. Hosei University's Karate Club had been established by a Shotokan Karate-do Sensei who was also from Karatsu.
Finishing the studies at Hosei University, he went to the United States and taught Karate for some time there. Then to Martinique, Paris, Switzerland, Germany, Taiwan, he went around the 'Dojos'. It was, I feel ,like 'Musha-shugyo' (Samurai's self -training journey).
After coming back to Karatsu in 1971, he worked for the Chamber of Commerce of Karatsu. He served there for 25 years, and in 2000 he retired.

He is The Head Master of "Karate-do Shoto Kensinkan Dojo" now. He teaches at Nagamatsu Public Hall also.

I visited Nagamatsu Hall one evening and met some pupils there. I watched them practicing 'Kata' at the starting signal of Sensei's calm voice 'Hajime!' ( Start !)
There was no sound except the sound of air when children pushed their fists strong and rapid, and their footsteps were so light and almost elegant without making loud noises.

The smallest karateist on the day, Yuki Nakayama, 2nd grader, answered to my question.
"Yes, I like Karate very much. I like Sensei very much, too, because he is so kind and gentle."
The elder ones said "Sensei is very severe most of the time, but sometimes very very gentle. We like Karate, because we think Karate makes us strong in both body and soul" Their chief aim is to get "Shodan"(Primary dan) and then to win at the National games.

After Sensei said 'Ya-me!' (Finish !) at eight o'clock in the evening, the pupils sat on the floor and bowed three bows to the holy place, to Sensei and to each other.
They said good-bye to me too, and here is a message from the pupils to Setoguchi Sensei.
Children were too shy to say this to Sensei directly.
"Dear Sensei, please continue to be our teacher.
Thank you, Sensei, we will try our best, we promise."
And the elder Kuro-obi (Black-belt) girls asked me to send a message to the students in Martinique.
"Hi, we are Mami and Ayaka. We will try hard here, and you will do there. But someday we hope you will visit Japan and see us. We will do Karate together."

This is the magical Island where Michio Setoguchi retrieved himself after a serious surgery 18 years ago. He had a cancer on the large intestine.
One of his students of 30 years ago, Dr. Allen Branch invited him to come and stay with him for some time on the Island of Martinique for the change of air after the surgery.

Michio accepted this offer, and went there with his daughter Ayako, who was 17 at that time.
The Caribbean sunshine and sea of Martinique healed his body and soul. He came back to Japan as a strong Karateist again.

18 years have passed since then, and this time Dr. Branch was involved in a bad traffic accident.
In February this year Michio went to Martinique again to encourage his old student. Allen is recovering and Michio prays for his early come-back.
In Martinique, just like 18 years ago, 120 Karateists gathered from all over the Island to learn from Michio.
Michio's son Takenori (4th dan) and his friend Kondo (2nd dan) helped as instructors this time.
Michio left Martinique with a promise to return in two years.

Now Michio is back in Karatsu.
His path of Karate-do must have been harsh and rough.
But he is quite a gentle fellow. His white short hair and white long beard make him look much older than he really is.You will see a true Samurai in him.
It was not a cancer that he conquered, but he has conquered himself. Always his wife Kazuko has been watching silently from behind. She may have been the true Sensei for Michio.
When I asked, "What do you want to do after this?", he answered,"I will just continue as long as I live, and if luck allows me, I want to say at my last breath 'Get me my Do-gi (Karate wear)'"
And Kazuko smilingly said, "I will get it and say,'Here you are, dear'"

              Until that day, there will be no 'Ya-me!' for Michio Setoguchi.

  Send your message to Michio Setoguchi via  Mail to Harumi Okochi .       
   These are the colors of the belt, from beginner to advanced.