2017 Okinawan Karate Nerd Programme (OKNP)


The selection is done!

After receiving numerous applications from all over the world, the 2017 Okinawa Karate Nerd Programme recipients have been selected.

Congrats to Benjamin Eayrs (Edinburgh, UK) and Kendra Harter (Alaska, USA)!


But wait – that’s not all!

Yes, Benjamin-san and Kendra-san will receive the full 2017 OKNP sponsorship from Seishin International, KARATEbyJesse.com and DOJO Bar as outlined in the programme description (below).


Since we received soooo many amazing applications, the invitation has been extended to 7 more people, who will be able to join the programme (without the full sponsorship) and get help with local accommodation, travel, work, training etc.

They are:

  • Karrin Pitt, USA
  • David Kraus, Czech Republic
  • Francois Staring, Belgium
  • Joshua La Selva, Canada
  • Nicolas Rafael Ramirez, Colombia
  • Maxwell Honey, USA
  • Jose Manuel Haces, Mexico

Congratulations to all of you!

Me and James were impressed by your knowledge, passion and dedication to Karate. A secret OKNP Facebook group has been created where you will be able to connect with each other before embarking on the trip of a lifetime.

For those who were not selected, don’t worry. The OKNP participants will share their journey online via monthly blogs, until the next application period (Dec 1-31).

Until then, “gambatte kudasai” (“keep fighting”)!

Greetings from Okinawa.

/ Jesse & James


About The OKNP Programme

Would you like to experience Okinawa – the birthplace of Karate?

Today is your lucky day!



OKNP is once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for two young Karate Nerds between the ages of 18-35 to fly to Okinawa and live there for 6-12 months and experience the Way of Karate at its source.

This programme is the result of an exclusive collaboration between myself, KARATEbyJesse.com, and James Pankiewicz, founder of The DOJO Bar & Cafe / Challenge Okinawa, together with Seishin International as proud sponsor.

If you are a young Karate Nerd who dreams of discovering the essence of Karate (…and yourself) – keep reading.

The Okinawan Karate Nerd Programme includes:

– 6 or 12 months living in Okinawa – the birthplace of Karate.

– Daily training with traditional Karate masters and living legends.

– Hands on involvement behind the scenes in Okinawan seminars and events.

– Working part time at The DOJO Bar & Cafe and Challenge Okinawa (The 100 Kata Event, international seminars etc).

– Access to unique Okinawan cultural activities such as working in a awamori factory or with a master sanshin maker, exploring Okinawa’s mountain trails, or coastline on kayak, exploring Okinawa’s castles and caves, learn to cook traditional food etc.

If you are accepted into OKNP, the following will be provided for you:

– Pre-trip advice on visa application (applicant must apply themselves) and general preparation help.

– Airport pick up, good value accommodation (applicant pays) and orientation on Okinawa.

– Help with designing personal training programme, introductions to local teachers and access to other Karate resources.

– Part time work at The DOJO Bar & Cafe and/or as assistant in local Karate events.

– Introduction to cultural and learning opportunities such as Japanese lessons, calligraphy lessons, cooking classes etc.

– Special excursions and trips around Okinawa and nearby islands to discover unique locations and people.

– Any assistance required with other necessary services such as travel, local government, medical etc.

– Custom Seishin International kit; including The Seishin Gi, The Seishin Bag, The Seishin Bracelet etc.

– 6-12 month unlimited access to Karate Nerd Insider™, my private online weekly video subscription club.

– Personal online consultation and support from me during your entire stay in Okinawa.

Sounds good?

This is literally a dream come true for a young Karate Nerd.

However, OKNP is not a “walk in the park”.

You need to prove yourself worthy of this amazing opportunity.

The programme requires dedication and effort.

OKNP applicants need to:

– Be available to spend 6 – 12 months in Okinawa, starting no later than March 1st.

– Be aged 18 – 35 years old at time of applying.

– Ideally be eligible for a Working Holiday Visa in Japan, or at least able to obtain a 90 day tourist visa with funds to exit/reenter and renew visa after 90 days.

– Have funds to purchase a return ticket to Okinawa.

– Have sufficient funds to be able to support basic living expenses for 6 – 12 months (approximately $1000 US per month).

– Be absolutely committed to learning and working hard in Okinawa. This will be an incredible and also very challenging experience. Applicants must have open minds, open hearts and boundless enthusiasm. This programme will change your life. Trust me, I moved to Okinawa by myself when I was 20 years old. It changed me forever. If OKNP had existed back then, I would have applied in a heartbeat.

– Be committed to documenting their Okinawan Karate Nerd Programme experience through text, photos and video, in order to be shared on www.karatebyjesse.com, www.dojobarnaha.com, www.seishin-international.com along with associated websites and social media. The applicant grants the licence to freely use this content without charge or expectations by all parties.

– Be able to speak and write in English. No Japanese language skills needed (although it’s a plus).

That’s all you need to know for now.

Download the OKNP Application Form here.

This application is 100% FREE for anyone to send in.

The deadline is January 1st. No fees will be charged for administration.

You will be judged by me and James based on a combination of your experience, attitude, maturity and socio-economic status.

Remember, a maximum of two people will get selected (one girl/guy) for next year’s Okinawan Karate Nerd Programme.

Is it you? Fingers crossed.

Good luck! 🙂


  • Shankar Satheesan
    3 more years... Sigh...
  • Mike Martherus
    Awwww this sounds like the opportunity of a lifetime!! Too bad I do not have the funds to go on this amazing expedition of culture, learning and self-conscient improvement. An amazing feat to be able to organise this!!
    • Thanks Mike-san, hopefully one day in the future you can experience it too! :-)
  • Sandoval
    Will this be an ongoing program? Or is this the only year this is going to happen? Because this is an absolute dream come true.
    • Every year is a new opportunity, unless we close it down.
      • Joe
        Jesse, would you consider a short duration for older students? I’m sure you would have lots of interest.
  • Jakob
    When do you expect to ready for the trip, I mean does the program start e.g. in September 2017?
  • Martin V
    and i just turned 36 ... hahah (f..k!)... but well it will be nice to see younger people there and enjoy it and report about their experiences. Amazing thing you have achieved here Jesse! Martin
    • Haha! And they say age is just a number, eh? ;-) Have a great weekend Martin-san!
  • Too old !! Too old !! Too old !! ^^
  • Phil Matthews
    Can you fit a 61 yr old in please?
  • Faye Tonkinson
    Wow what an opportunity I'd love to try for this...but I'm outside of the desired age! (Very very sad face!)
  • Dale Parker
    I wish this had been available in 1987.
  • squid legs and habu sake in dojo bar miss it
  • TJ
    Oh if only I were a few years younger! Maybe they need a chaperone ?
  • Salima
    ugh! Too old! :-(
  • Wiebke
    I would love love love to do this but I'm not shure if I'm good anough .... although it would definitely a great chance to get better and better and better :D
  • Hector William Ramos
    Karate has become my new found passion and I want to learn anything and everything about it " to climb Mt. Karate". Where do I submit the application form to begin the process? Thank you very much for this opportunity.
  • Pugglen
    Sounds like alot of fun, wish I could go! But I couldn't leave my dojo for such a long period, as I am one of it's two instructors :/
  • Germán
    Unfortunately I'm preparing myself to be a cop so I do have not the time ot funds to try this absolutely-dreaming amazing experience. Good luck to the ones who will dare to do this!
  • Alan Leslie
    ? in the wrong demographic two years too old bu##er . Mind I did get to visit Okinawa in November ?
  • James
    This sounds like the opportunity of a lifetime. If I had the funds, I'd be willing to take a leave of absence from my career in order to pursue this. I'd have to diligently save for a couple of years before this would be a possibility. Sadly, I'm 35, and right on the cusp of applying. Please consider raising the age limit in the future, Jesse-san!
  • Rajapontar
    next...2 years..
  • Josh Simmers
    Wow, I just read this full post and realized a total of nine people won the chance of a lifetime. Even though the additional seven do not get the full support package it appears they will still get enough support and help needed so they too can come to this beautiful island and train. Congratulations! I am a local resident here on the island (US Army Vet married to Okinawan wife). I train in Okinawa Kenpo and would love to train with any of those in the program (or anyone else that is an overall good person that visits the island). If I can be of any assistance feel free to reach out to me on Facebook. Josh Simmers https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100009688811606
  • James
    Congratulations to all successful applicants. I hope you enjoy, and make the most of, this amazing opportunity.
  • Jose Perez
    Osu Why is this limited to 35 years old ? Thanks Jose
    • Because if you're 35+ you should be adult enough to figure out Okinawa by yourself ;-)
      • Jose Perez
        Osu Jesse, I started Karate when I was 14 and and been a Ronin until I met my Master Hanshi Andy Barber in Nelson in another form of Karate called Seido. I only then did my 1st Dan. I am 60 years old now and spending 6 months in Okinawan sounds like a good place to find my Do. You are right I should explore that path by myself. Perhaps we could meet over there ? Osu and continue the good work :-) best regards Jose
  • Goju Knight
    I am not sure I would do this, it sounds like you have to pay air travel and accommodation all by yourself, if I could do that I'd be there now...? Our organization is rooted in Okinawa so hopefully one day I will be able to train there... but probably just for a month I don't think I can afford avoiding work for any longer than that.
  • Mohammad Ali
    Did the 2018 OKNP have been already over?
  • Alicia Macier
    You should do this for 2019 ?
  • Thaddeus Patin II
    This would have been a dream come true for me. If what I read on dojobarnaha.com is true, then I am too old to enter the contest, as I am going on 43 in June this year. I would also have too look into how to be able to get my Chrohn's medication while there if I did win too. This definitely makes me wish I was younger because I have always wanted to go and never had the funds to do so. Just to see the history and culture alone would be well worth the trip in itself. I will just have to be content living vicariously through hearing the experiences of others. While bummed, I am legitimately hyped for those that get to do this, and I commend you for making this experience possible for others. Nothing but respect Sensei Jesse.
  • James
    I was also bummed-out when I learned I was too old for this opportunity. Ironically, I did visit Okinawa with the Navy about ten years ago, but I hadn’t started training in Karate. In this pre-enlightened state, I spent most of my time drinking in bars. I’ve always kicked myself for that. Now, I have the opportunity to travel to Okinawa with my Sensei in November. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that has come once again. I will not waste it again this time. I hope to bump into a fellow Karate Nerd at the Dojo Bar!

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