Okinawa Traditional Karatedo Kobudo World Tournament 2009 – Day 4 (Seminars)

I’m back!

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.

But wait!

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
  • “Ichigeki-Hissho”
  • “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.

Quite interesting.

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:

You win.

Next master:

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.

First slowly.

Then normal.

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.


  • Buddy
    Love it! Great job. Can't wait to see the videos.
  • Diego Romero
    Duuuuuude. If we ever meet, run away, or I am seriously going to consume your brain to absorb your memories of the event. Also, we want videos, WAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!. *ahem* :P
  • Narda Wakoluk
    I enjoy your blog immensely, and am grateful that such an interesting event is being shared. I have a question: you take great pictures/video, and I was wondering what camera do you use? thank you.
  • Andreas
    Wow, makes me wanna be a part of it too... next time maybe. Thanks for sharing :O)
  • Thanks for your comments everyone! Working on those vids... @Narda: I have an old Canon EOS something... I don't believe good pictures come from the camera, but from the person holding the camera. Might aswell have been a mobile phone camera! For videos, it's a Canon FS100. It rocks! Super small, so you can hide it inside your gi... :)
  • John Arena
    Once again an amzing post. Thank you for being so generous.I must as, what is the misconception of hikete?
  • Hello Jon! If I remember correctly, Higa Minoru repeated several times that when you punch (or block, strike etc.) hikite to the hip is only for practise. It is not for kumite, only for kihon. He said that he sees people using hikite at the hip when they do kumite, and that is wrong. You shouldn't start your punch from there, but be able to punch from any position. He then showed this by casually holding his hand on the back of his head, and quickly punching directly from there. Or if you were standing and smoking a cigarette, you should punch directly from where you are holding your hand. Or if you are standing with your hands in your pockets, punch directly from there (in other words, never pull your hand back to the hip and then punch). That is only for correct form in practise. In reality he thought you should be able to punch powerfully from 15 centimeters away from your opponent. That was basically it. It's hard to explain with text, but I hope you get it :/...
  • Fatih Ince
    Hi Jesse, Thanks for the information about Okinawan Tournament. You did good job. I like it. Fatih Ince Toronto, Canada P.S.How about videos;-)
  • Hi Fatih! Thanks! I'm working on the videos! Patience... :)
  • Hi Andrey, Thanks! Sorry, nobody demonstrated Hakutsuru! Maybe next time? By the way, you can write with normal characters, no need for capitalized letters. It's easier to read that way! And I just remembered, you wanted a picture of the Tournament poster, right? Here is one: It's good quality!
  • Oh, and to everyone wondering: I just finished editing the videos. 21 in total.
  • Sandro
    Hi Jesse, just four words: THANK YOU VERY MUCH!
  • Pete Ampil
    Jesse I enjoyed your description of the seminars plus key happenings. Very useful for us who were not able to make it. Maybe next time. I look forward to your videos. In many many ways, we are all brothers who share a common passion for karate and kobudo inspite of differences in styles, even witin styles through our senseis.We all share in the same vision and sense of brotherhood, regardless of nationality, race, creed or religion. Cheers. manila, Philippines
  • Hi, Jesse-san! Many thanks for the reports from the Tournament! I envy, especially seeing Sakumoto sensei demonstrating Anan bunkai. Btw. my friend Vladimir took 3rd place at male kata competition!
  • @CrazyJoe No problemo! I saw your friend by the way! He did not look happy when he lost... :)
  • @Jesse Well, I don't know anyone looking happy when he/she loses. But this 3rd place is big surprise for all of us here - we know he's good, but to be 3rd of ~250, and in Okinawa?! That's something we were not even hoping for. Regards, CrazyJoe.
  • Gary S.
    Just wanted to let you know again how much I enjoy your website. It's great having a virtual tour guide in Okinawa who provides so much usefull information. Please keep up the good work.
  • Shayan
    Your website is so awesome ! Keep it up :)
  • lovenz
    WOw! ive learned many things with just reading your blog. hope to see your video soon.. u did a great job sir. thanks to you, cebu shidokan(philippines)
  • Thanks everyone! By the way, one-year anniversary for KBJ soon... :)
  • Mason
    This is great! I was there, also, and it really was a great time. Did you get any video?
  • Oliver
    Mason, he got plenty of video, uploading right now! Check first page!
  • Indishe
    Great work Jess.. Thank you very much. Kyudokan Sri Lanka
  • kobudo173
    I have enjoyed all the info and video's from the 2009 world tourney.I was at the World tourney.I am part of the Shorinryu Shorinkan under Nakazato Shugoro.I have been a direct student of Eberhard G.Welch,Kyoshi-Hachidan for over twenty years.I was one of those american students you spoke of during the kobudo demo for Nakazato Shugoro. I was easy to recognize ,i was the only african american on the floor performing kobudo.
  • JamesD.
    Again, great posting, Jesse! I noticed that there was no mention of Wakugawa sensei's seminar, though. Too bad you missed it! He gave away ALL the deepest, darkest secrets!!...Just kidding. He actually had Higaonna sensei basically run it for him due to not feeling well. Still, it was quite enlightening. Very different from what we do in Meibukan.
  • Fernando Luedtke
    Thank you for the helpful post. I was searching for something related and found your web site in the process.. I will certainly be back again for more.
  • Eric
    really nice post Jesse. I train regulaary at nakazato Joen sensei's doo, it's so nice dojo. The man near him is my best friend in Okinawa kakazu San. I have trained once at Shimabukuro 's dojo. First he was not here but I really didn't like this training, it's look like Japanese karate. But I kno, he is a very good karate man. Thanks to share all with us even I went several times a year in okinawa never can't join this event. let meet us next time there !
  • 550paracord
    Thanks for writing about this. You’ve got a great deal of that info here on your internet site. I’m impressed – I try to keep a couple blogs reasonably live, but it’s a struggle at times. You’ve done a big job with this one. How do you do it?
  • Jorge
    it must be a great experiene being there, my master was there and told me lots of things but your comentaries are interesting and fun, I really want to steal all your experience from your head jakjakja. no, am kidding the only way... practice thank you so much for shareing all this with us. greetings from Chile
  • Romeo Garcia, Jr.
    •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). Jesse, I really liked the article, and I have to admit, I'm jealous that you can free up and go do what you do, but you sparked up the curiosity bug in me when you had mentioned the measuring method above, so don't keep it to yourself - What is it? Romeo
  • Herath
    Dear Sensei, Request for Affiliation. I wish to inform you that I have been functioning as Chief Instructor for Shotakan in Sri Lanka. I have been working for 25 years in this field. In addition, I am conducting classes in all the provinces in Sri Lanka. There are more than 50 Black Belters under me. They are the people who represent me in all provinces. The student population of my classes are around 500. My interest and intention is to promote the Karate in the best manner in Sri Lanka. Since I want to promote my students to an International Level, I need a reputed Grand Master in this regard. While search for a grand master, I came across your address. Therefore I like to introduce your Shotokan Style in Sri Lanka. I hope that my students and myself could raise our standard to an excellent position. Therefore I kindly request you to affiliate me in your association as Sri Lankan representative. At this juncture I wish to point out that I have devoted my life for Karate and I am not working for money as Sri Lanka is a poor Country. If we expect higher payments, this sport couldn’t be promoted in Sri Lanka. Therefore please extend your co-operation in this regard to promote your style in Sri Lanka. . I like to lead your Style of Karate in Sri Lanka if you grant me . But , if no body carries out your style in Sri Lanka . I shall be much appreciated if you can provide me the authorship to maintain your style in SrLanka Thank you, Yours truly, Herath
  • san-san
    I looooooove your blog
  • Alexander
    Jesse, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR ALL OF THIS! Really thank you for everything you do, but this was just SO awesome I actullly had to comment. I'm not even at the surface of all the awesomeness on here, including the videos on YouTube. Anyways, I'll continue down my karate nerd path with the help of your guidance! Again, arigatou gozaimasu!

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