Remembering Shingo Ohgami 1941 - 2019

Text by Staffan Holm

© Swedish Karatedo Wadokai

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Warm memories

Our friend and mentor Shingo Ohgami has passed away.
For thirty years, after Tuesday's training, Shingos favorite resturant in Gothenburg has kept opena little extra and Shingo's table to the right stands ready with menu, chopsticks and filled water glass. Lai wa special without peas! Or no, by the way, we take the fish today. Take half a portion and the rest home. There are usually discussions about karate's history, politics and many wonderful laughs in good friends' teams. So many occasions where the meal is a focal point. In training, silence, purity and concentration apply. Focus on the inner journey.
In the old premises of Valhalla bowling some Samurai dojo, the Shingo karate club started in 1969. Located in the shoe shelf at the entrance, Shingo's indoor slippers are as usual. On the table in the training room is the paper Shingo last filled with Japanese characters where he kept order of all kata (movement patterns) he trained for the day. Every day at least two hours of training, no exceptions. Shingo's attitude to training was that you should exercise regularly, long term, for your health.
It feels like we just trained at the karate club together with Shingo. You almost expect him to stand there by the mirror and do his daily kata when you come in and bow to the room. The character and determination he displayed daily is one of many Shingo's qualities we have all been inspired by over the years.

 

First encounter

We were young when we first met Shingo. Some of us as friends of Shingo's three children, others as students of the Samurai dojo or at some of the countless training camps organized over the years. I met Shingo as a teenager. First as my good friend Peter's slightly eccentric father. However, it soon became apparent that Shingo Ohgami was much, much more than that. All the rumors about how tough and tough karate master he was initially gave a frightened delight among us young guys who happily hung out at Peter's home. We looked at his samurai sword, martial arts films and the carefully organized library of books about the history of martial arts. We were intrigued by his temperament over what we perceived as trivial order misses. We may not always realize it right then, but Shingo never missed an opportunity to teach young people the importance of pulling our straw still in the small and large. No excuses. Fight to do our best every day to strengthen the character without expecting any thanks or praise. He did this by assigning us all kinds of practical household tasks and small lectures around the kitchen table. It was demanding meticulous order in everything, from shoes to cleaning and everyone helps. No exceptions. Otherwise they found their shoes in the rain-wet bushes or maybe they were portrayed with an angry "never come back" that could take time to hat with a hat in hand.

 

Butterflys wings
The situations with Shingo have given rise to many fun anecdotes that have become widely known over the years, but now that I am a father myself, I realize what a tremendous positive impact our meetings have had on me. I am extremely pleased that my children also had the opportunity to meet Shingo.

For me personally, it took a while before I beat my first good karate. Since I lived in Lerum, it was natural that I started with Hado Catic in Lerum's karate club. Hado is one of Shingo's closest students and has been running for many years, a very nice karate club in Lerum outside Gothenburg with large children's groups and high standards of training. In Hado, which is of course strongly colored by Shingo, I found another important mentor who influenced me tremendously. Life eventually took me away from Lerum and I started training and teaching children at Shingo. I bought straight from the whole concept of discipline, Stoicism, and got a lifelong enthusiasm for Japanese culture. My interest has taken me to Japan many times in my work as a designer, where you can see a clear Japanese thread running through everything Scandinavian. Shingo often spoke inadvertently cryptically to describe various emotions in the body during karate training. "The hip floats in the air" or "remove the knee" and many have probably been puzzled by the constant urge to relax, despite the fact that you can do it no more without falling leash to the ground. But like many of Shingo's expressions, insight requires its time and patience. Relaxation may not mean primarily physically but mentally. To get rid of locks, blocking thoughts and obstacles we set up for ourselves. If life gives you lemons, relax first and then you may want to make lemon juice. I, like so many others, have long ago understood that the lessons and insights I gained since the first meeting with Shingo have shaped me.  They have helped to give me the tools to cope with a demanding career and various life difficulties. New toddlers fall down as tight and when you take it, you sometimes feel embarrassed with their eyes to themselves for taking over twenty years to grasp. Is it something we remember now, is Shingo's eternal wish that we should not only train to grade or compete, we train to become a better person. Translated to life, it is about looking at what we do as something important and precious. Spending their time productively and constantly finding new ways to be of use to family, friends and society. It showed Shingo examples every single day and now it is our turn to pass on his spirit to each other and our children by trying to be good examples themselves. So may our hips float in the air, remove our knees and, above all, relax.

 

Biography.

We are many who have known Shingo Ohgami over the years through friendship, work and training. In Sweden alone, about eight thousand people have trained in the Karate Club Samurai Dojo since Shingo started the club in 1969. Many, many more know his life's work around the world. We have all been touched by Shingo's great charisma, his devotion to karate and guidance in our personal development.

Born in the Japanese city of Shimonoseki in 1941, Shingo was captured by the fascination of karate and Shindo Yoshin ryu Jijusu during his University studies at Todai University in Tokyo in 1961. Shingo trained there for the legendary Sensei Hinori Ohtsuka (1892 - 1982), founder of the karate style Wado Ryu Shingo later became a major contributing factor to the spread of Wado ryu karate outside Japan.
In 1969, Shingo left Japan for a year as a visiting research fellow at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg where he researched cellulose chemistry and subsequently started one of Sweden's first karate clubs, Samurai Dojo. Shingo later spent all his academic energy on researching the history of karate and martial arts, which gave rise to a large number of publications and books for the afterlife. Shingo founded Swedish Karatedo Wadokai and participated in the formation of the Federation of Wadokai Europe, which greatly affected the spread of Karate into the world.

A great man has passed out of time and his memory will live forever in our minds. Thanks for everything.

Shingo Ohgami leaves behind his three children, grandchildren close friends and countless admirers around the world.

 

 

Staffan Holm is a designer / architect with his own business in Gothenburg and has been a close friend of the family for thirty years. Staffan coaches karate at the Samurai dojo and is one of the leaders of the club's children's activities Kodomo.

 

Contakt:

www.staffanholm.com

For me personally, it took a while before I beat my first good karate. Since I lived in Lerum, it was natural that I started with Hado Catic in Lerum's karate club. Hado is one of Shingo's closest, pupils and has been running for many years, very nice karate clubs in Lerum and Bergum with large children's groups and high standards of training. In Hado, which is of course strongly colored by Shingo, I found another important mentor who influenced me tremendously. Life eventually took me away from Lerum and I started training and teaching children at Shingo. I bought straight from the whole concept of discipline, Stoicism, and got a lifelong enthusiasm for Japanese culture. My interest has taken me to Japan many times in my work as a designer, where you can see a clear Japanese thread running through everything Scandinavian. Shingo often spoke inadvertently cryptically to describe various emotions in the body during karate training. "The hip floats in the air" or "remove the knee" and many have probably been puzzled by the constant urge to relax, despite the fact that you can do it no more without falling leash to the ground. But like many of Shingo's calls, insight requires its time and patience. Relaxation may not mean primarily physically but mentally. To get rid of locks, blocking thoughts and obstacles we set up for ourselves. If life gives you lemons, relax first and then you may want to make lemon juice. I, like so many others, have long ago understood that the lessons and insights I gained since the first meeting with Shingo have shaped me.

KARATE CLUB SAMURAI DOJO

VALHALLAGATAN 3, SWEDEN
M. INFO@SAMURAIDOJO.SE
BG 398-7633 SWISH 123 193 51 39

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