Celebrating the Legacy of Nobuhiro Higa

Nobuhiro HIga (left) participating in the All-Okinawa Karate Championship.

Over the past several years the martial arts community has lost several pivotal figures in the history and development of Uechi-Ryu, and with the challenges of COVID-19 some may be unaware of these losses. With that in mind, we are acknowledging the passing of and celebrating the life of Jiteki-Jyuku’s own Nobuhiro Higa (1956 – 2020).

Senior student of Sensei Ken Nakamatsu, Nobuhiro Higa passed away after a long illness on October 1, 2020, at the age of 64. Mr. Higa was a Uechi-Ryu kumite champion, having won the All Okinawan Karate Championship 8 times. As anyone who trained with him will attest, he always made an effort to work with every student and make each one feel special. He had such control of his immense power that he could spar with anyone during practice and not injure them – his technique was always relaxed, “as if he were taking a walk in the park.” In addition to karate, he was also passionate about his community and retired as head of the Fire Department.

NAJJA’s technical advisor, Geoff Crouse (7th dan; Portola Valley, CA), spent considerable time training with Nobuhiro Higa on Okinawa, and when asked about Nobuhiro’s passing Crouse shared the following:

“Nobuhiro embodied the essence of a true karateka. He was humble, gentle to the core, serving others in every aspect of his life, and also a master of his art. Perhaps the only thing I ever experienced as powerful as Nobuhiro’s punch was his smile. His kindness always filled Sensei Nakamatsu’s dojo.”

Long-time dojo-mate and fellow student of Sensei Ken Nakamatsu, Tsukasa (Scott) Higa, said:

“… he is the best Champion of the Uechi circle without a doubt. In addition, he was the best disciple of Sensei Nakamatsu. As a matter of fact, he was our champion, and we can be proud of him for our Jiteki-Jyuku members.”

Nobuhiro Higa, you will be missed by all of those who have been impacted by your generosity and kind spirit as well as your immense karate skills. Thank you for your many contributions to making the world a better place.

Nobuhiro Higa with one of his All-Okinawa Karate Championship trophies, originally published in Shigeru Takamiyagi’s 1996 book “The International Personnel Network of the Okinawan Karatedo Association”
Nobuhiro Higa’s wife Keiko and daughter Sinogu standing with his karate trophies. Photo courtesy of Tsukasa (Scott) Higa.
Flowers sent in Nobuhiro Higa’s memory by Igor Pransnikar (Slovenia) and Joachim Roettinger (Germany). Photo courtesy of Tsukasa (Scott) Higa.

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