Sensei Bakkies Laubscher’s Goju Ryu Karate career began in 1966, but his Karate career started in 1963 – first briefly Kyokushinkai, then Shotokan (JKA) and from 1966 Higaonna Morio Sensei’s Okinawan Goju Ryu.
Karate was very unknown then in Cape Town – Mas Oyama Sensei’s books the only source around – and because. Cape Town is a port, every Japanese sailor that visited Cape Town Harbour that knew Karate was invited to teach!
It so happened that Miyagi An’ichi Sensei visited Cape Town in the 1950’s as crew on a Japanese boat and taught Gekki Sai Day Ichi at a well-known Judo school in Cape Town!
In 1965 JKA sent four of their top instructors – Sensei’s Tase Taiji, Kanazawa Hirokazu, Enoeda Keinosuko, Shirai Hiroshi to South Africa for a period of six months. Sensei Bakkies Laubscher was graded to senior Shodan by Sensei’s Tase and Shirai in July 1965 at age of sixteen, one of the youngest senior Shodan in the organisation worldwide.
(* The picture was taken while Sensei Bakkies Laubscher was doing his compulsory military service at age 17 – white Gi’s were either non available or extremely expensive! His grandmother made his first white Gi for him by hand at beginning of 1967)
In 1966 Sensei Bakkies Laubscher changed to Okinawa Goju Ryu because James Rousseau Sensei and his teacher visited Higaonna Sensei’s famous Yoyogi Dojo in Tokyo and Higaonna Sensei’s Goju Ryu was officially introduced to the west – first South Africa and subsequently England and Europe.
In 1973 Sensei Bakkies Laubscher trained at Tokyo Dojo at Higaonna Sensei’s invitation for six months. Higaonna Sensei was 35 years old at the time and training was intense! He recalls that very few ‘Gaijun’ or foreigners were seen in Tokyo then -it was a like living on another planet! It was also when he met his good friend and IOGKF senior, Sensei Kazuo Terauchi – still friends today!
National and International Goju Ryu Profile
As Higaonna Morio Sensei’s most senior student, Sensei Bakkies Laubscher is one of the two Vice Chief Instructors of the Traditional Okinawan Goju Ryu Federation. Since 1978 he was joint Chief Instructor of South Africa or SAGA as it is known since 1966 and since 1983 the sole Chief Instructor.
Sensei Bakkies Laubscher has never cared about gradings and he maintains that what you are on the floor is your worth! In 2015 he was graded to 9th Dan by Higaonna Morio Sensei during an IOGKF country Chief Instructor Gasshuku in Okinawa.
He participated in sports karate and represented the South African National Team in two WUKO World Championships – 1972 in Paris France, where he made the individual Kumite quarterfinals and 1975 in Long Beach, California where the SA team lost in semi-finals to England, who won the event. (there were only team and individual Kumite and no weight divisions in those days!
His approach to life extends to karate, which has had a great influence on his life since the age of 14. He regards the understanding and appreciation of tradition as vital for understanding the status quo, but at the same time the need to remain flexible, adaptable and open to new ideas and trends – Karate is evolutionary and although the principles remains intact, it should not be approached as a vintage car.
His believes one should ‘walk the talk‘ and his philosophy on training: ‘You’re as good as your last training session….!’