First of all, sorry that I’m one day late with this last report from the “Okinawa Traditional Karatedo Kobudo World Tournament 2009″.
The “sayonara party” (official name: Exchange Reception) was… crazy.
I went to bed 4:00 in the morning.
Need I say more?
Let’s just say like this: It’s not a good idea to have a sayonara party with free sake for everyone! And the food then! People were like savages! Have you ever heard the saying: “Karate begins and ends with courtesy”? They say that all the time here in Okinawa.
Well, apparently, that flies out the window if you’re at a sayonara party!
At least if it’s free food, and all you can eat!
People were like possessed!
But let’s talk about what you really came here for: Day 4 – The Seminars.
The day started with registrations around 8:00 in the morning (followed by some speeches by different important people, like always).
This is what it looked like, early:
It was a relaxed atmosphere.
Everyone were friendly and happy (but as we know, that was about to change at the sayonara party…)
Ten minutes later, they turned the lights on, and people were gradually entering the arena.
As you can see, a camera guy felt a little fat, so he decided to do some exercise. Also, notice how none of the Karate-people are training… I couldn’t help but laughing.
A few more minutes passed.
People began to line up nicely, as seen on the big screen:
And then, finally, the old masters who were about to conduct today’s seminars, lined up. Or rather, sat down on their chairs (in a line though).
Everyone were excited.
And they had all right to be. This was one of the best days ever, in Okinawa.
At least for me.
Here you see approximately half of the masters.
The rest were probably at home, sleeping, since they had the seminars in the afternoon.
Who is that, to the far right? Let’ take a closer look:
It looks like Higaonna Morio (hanshi 10th dan, Goju-ryu) is sleeping!
Or is he merely “meditating”?
Well, whatever it is, he is brutally awakened by Shimabukuro Zenpo (hanshi 10th dan, Shorin-ryu), as seen below!
If he wasn’t such a peaceful individual, that could easily have escalated into an epic battle!
Anyway, as I said, speeches were also held:
I snapped a photo (above) of Wakugawa Kosei (b. 1926), hanshi 10th dan, Goju-ryu. He talked about the importance of Bun-Bu (or “the pen and the sword” for us non-Japanese). Interesting stuff.
Other people held some more speeches… and then we started.
Now, according to the rules, you were supposed to choose three masters and train under them only. I did that, but I managed to run around a little, so I saw almost every master. And the best part was, you could film everything!
I never thought my camera’s memory card could be this full! And almost every master did demonstrations too! I have everything! Wohoo!
We’ll see what I upload though…
Back to topic. My first seminar was with this man:
Nakazato Joen (b. 1922), hanshi 10th dan, Shorinji-ryu.
The last surviving direct student of Kyan Chotoku (who, in turn, was a student of Sokon “Bushi” Matsumura as you know).
I feel sorry for those that didn’t choose Joen Nakazato as their first seminar.
They really missed a living legend!
Although Nakazato looked a little “old and fragile”, leaning on a cane and all, when he talked his spirit was strong. He began with a lecture on such topics as:
- The history of Shorinji-ryu
- Kaisho, Gyosho and Shosho kata
- “Karate ni sente nashi” (see picture below)
- Breathing in kata Seisan – “kenko no ho”
- Points in daily kata training, “Tanrenho”
- The correct character (kanji) for writing the word “kata”
His most senior students then demonstrated the old-style versions of kata like Chinto, Wansu, Gojushiho, Ananku, Seisan, (Tomari) Passai, (Chatan Yara) Kusanku and so on, and he made some comments on those. Interesting!
And now, since I filmed everything, in case I ever want to see those kata again I just look on my computer!
Technology… what would life be without it?
Oh, and I was also taught old-style Seisan, Ananku and Passai.
Summary: A great start on a great day.
So, with that being said, over to my next seminar, featuring the man below:
Shimabukuro Zenpo (b. 1943), hanshi 10th dan, Shorin-ryu, ready to kill someone hold a seminar.
I chose this seminar because I wanted to see the differences from the previous one – In theory there shouldn’t be none, since it is the same lineage (Kyan) but the differences were there, of course.
Especially in the kata Seisan, which we were taught here too.
And I just have to say something here: Zenpo Shimabukuro has to be one of the fastest and hardest men on the planet! His explosiveness is unbelievable! We did some basic, kihon, exercises, but I didn’t want to train, I just wanted to look at him! Drool…
His theory lesson was excellent too. He was really confident in all of his statements. He basically just explained his style, and said “We do it like this, and this is why”. He also explained (and compared) different styles, like Shotokan and Goju ryu…
It was enlightening. And the man moved like lightning.
Now let me tell you about some other masters that I got a “glimpse” of during a break. And with “glimpse” I mean “took photos of” and “filmed”. I had my loyal spies on almost every mat, so I got a lot of info too!
But I’ll keep it short:
Nakamoto Masahiro (b. 1938), hanshi 10th dan, Okinawa Kobudo, last living student of Taira Shinken:
- Held some awesome demonstrations (bo, sai, tonfa, nunchaku, nunchaku+knife etc.).
- Taught the usage and theory of the bo-makiwara (see picture above). “The soul of kobudo”.
- Taught nunchaku kumite (with a towel), bo-kata (Ufugushiku no Kon) and sai-kata (Tsukenshitahaku no Sai).
Tomoyose Ryuko (b. 1929), hanshi 10th dan, Uechi-ryu.
- Ran through the Uechi-ryu kihon-waza
- Taught the unique Uechi-ryu style strikes (boshi-ken, ko-ken etc)
- Taught kata Sanchin, Uechi-ryu style
- Taught kata Seisan, Uechi-ryu style
Nakazato Shugoro (b. 1919), hanshi 10th dan, Shorin-ryu.
- Did sai-kata and bo-kata (Kubo no Kon etc).
- Made his American students hold a kobudo (!) demonstration.
- (Sorry, that’s all I got…).
Sakumoto Tsuguo (b. 1947), hanshi 9th dan, Ryuei-ryu (who has his usual “who do you think you’re messing with?”-look).
- Held maaaany demonstrations (Heiku, Paiku, Anan, Niseishi, Anan team kata and the list goes on…).
- Taught kata Anan (with bunkai).
- Taught kata Niseishi.
I know some of you think they don’t teach applications, bunkai, in tournament-style Karate, so I got some pictures for you. Here we go:
(This is the low side-kick segment from the kata Anan)
1. The opponent punches.
2. You grab the arm and pull down:
3. Low kick to the side of the knee:
Higaonna Morio (b. 1938), hanshi 10th dan, Goju-ryu (this time his senpai to the right is sleeping. Look!).
- Taught breathing exercises of Goju-ryu.
- Demonstrated kata Sanchin, and how to “check” the muscles and alignment etc.
- Did kata Seisan.
Akamine Hiroshi (b. 1954), kyoshi 7th dan, Ryukyu Kobudo. The “lowest” ranked of the masters!
- Taught the basics of using the bo: blocks, strikes, postures etc.
- Taught basics of using the sai.
- Demonstrated and taught some kumite (sai vs bo).
Yagi Meitetsu (b. 1949), hanshi 10th dan, Goju-ryu.
- Went through several Goju-ryu kata.
- Explained some finer points of basic movements.
- Sat on his chair and looked cool.
Shinjo Kyohide (b.1951), kyoshi 8th dan, Uechi-ryu (at least that’s who this blurry excuse for a photo is supposed to depict).
- Taught the complete kihon of Uechi-ryu.
- Taught the kata Seisan in detail.
- Did not teach how to break five wooden boards with his fingertips?!
Arakaki Isamu (b. ?) hanshi 10th dan, Shorin-ryu. Handing out a diploma to a gaijin.
- Taught straight punches in shiko dachi.
- Taught more straight punches in shiko dachi.
- Taught a little more straight punches in shiko dachi.
- Taught even more straight punches in shiko dachi.
- Taught a few more straight punches in shiko dachi.
- And then finished off with ten (!) front kicks.
Higa Minoru (b. 1941), hanshi 10th dan, Shorin-ryu
This was my own last seminar of the day, so I can explain this one in some more detail.
First of all: Higa Minoru is the real deal.
He was the only teacher who did every technique himself. All punches, kicks, strikes, blocks, kata, he never sat down or rested! He did it all.
And his technique was superb!
The training started with a lecture as always, and he, Higa Minoru, spoke about things like:
- The fist – The most important thing in Karate.
- The misconception of the withdrawing hand – Hikite.
- The kata Naihanchin, and kihon (interesting side note: his way of measuring the width of nahihanchin dachi is the same that Shimabukuro Zenpo used for measuring shiko dachi).
- Renzoku-waza vs. Ippon-waza – How to train for perfection.
The practical training consisted of these topics, plus a whole lot of kata Naihanchin Shodan and the two basic sets of techniques they use in his dojo, the Kyudokan (“Kihondosa ichi” and “Kihondosa ni”).
A great seminar, again!
And with that, the day was over!
We barely had time to take a shower before we rushed to the big fancy hotel… where the notorious “sayonara party” was being held.
And you already now about that!
It seems like my blogging from this event finally is over. Four really intense days of learning, sharing, competing, training…
And just having fun!
Now, I was going to leave you with that, but I just remembered something! I had promised you some quotes, right?
Let’s see if I got any…
Okay, found my notes. Consider this a special present from Okinawa:
“Sanchin kata should be done three times a day.
Then full speed.”
– Tomoyose Ryuko
“Outside technique, and inside technique – make them one.”
– Higaonna Morio
“Gojushiho ja nai, Useishi!”
(Translation: “Not Gojushiho, Useishi!”)
– Nakazato Joen, about what the kata Gojushiho used to be called in olden times.
“This is defensive (feet 90 degrees). This is offensive (feet 30 degrees).”
– Arakaki Isamu, on the two types of neko ashi dachi.
“Watch, listen, catch, sweat”
– Wakugawa Kosei, on the philosophy for the seminar.
“Sanchin make you strong men”
– Tomoyose Ryuko, on the kata Sanchin.
“Train kata Naihanchin and Sanchin. They are two most important. But… Shorin-ryu don’t have Sanchin, so you must steal!
Steal kata Sanchin from Goju-ryu and Uechi-ryu.”
– Arakaki Isamu, on important kata.
“The secret… is being persistent.”
– Some American guy at the sayonara party, on how to get Okinawan girls.
And I’m out.