Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Speeches, Kata, and a great deal of singing..!

Suparinpei kata demonstrated by a French karateka
On the evening of the final day of the Jundokan's duel memorial gathering, a formal ceremony was conducted at the Royal Orion Hotel (formerly the Seibu Orion) on Kokusaidori. Once again the room was full of "faces", sensei whose books or DVD's, or both, I had at home; as well, the room began to fill with quite a few sensei I had interviewed over the years.

Many sensei from different ryu-ha and dojo attended the event to commemorate Eiichi Miyazato sensei. From Shorin-ryu, Minoru Higa, Zenpo Shimabukuro, Hiroshi Akamine, and Makoto Gibu sensei's were there; and from Goju-ryu, Meitatsu Yagi, Kiichi Nakamoto, and Yoshio Kuba sensei's were in the room too. I'm not sure if every visitor realised the caliber of karateka they were mingling with, but for me it made for an exciting evening.

Canadian students perform sanseiryu kata
The ceremony opened with a speech from Miyazato Kancho, followed by three more from local dignitaries and politicians. Personally, the best speech of the evening for me was delivered by Mike Mancusco sensei of New York. He first entered the Jundokan back in the 1950's when, as a young Marine stationed on the "Rock", he was looking for someone to teach him karate: he found Miyazato sensei, and the rest is history.

Mancusco sensei (centre)
Promotion results were read out and rather than have thirty or so people up on the stage, a student from Austria was chosen to accept her dan certificate on behalf of everyone else. Following that, three sensei were awarded kudan. Students in Austria, Alaska, and France, now have a 9th dan sensei upon whom they can call for advice and instruction. To some, the rank may seem "high", but for a dojo that was established 60 years ago, with members who have been training for 40 and 50 years - plus, it is perhaps not so surprising.

L - R: Tsunao Kinjo sensei, Yurio Nakada sensei, Miguel da Luz
With the ceremony over the room was cleared and made ready for the post-seminar party. The food was wonderful, and plentiful; and the hotel staff were kept busy topping up the tables with beer and spirits. Classical Okinawan music played while traditional dances were performed, and guests were even invited on to the stage to learn a traditional dance from Hawaii. Not so strange when you are aware of the historical links between Okinawa and many other Pacific nations

When you have a party in Okinawa, or anywhere in Japan for that matter, it's not too long before the singing starts; and soon enough representatives from each country took to the stage to perform songs that were, in truth, best heard drunk....they sound better that way! Nevertheless, everyone had a great time letting their hair down and bringing the 'formal' event of the seminars to a close. I left early, my party-animal days long since past, but I walked back to my lodgings grateful to the countless people who had worked behind the scenes to make the seminar, and the evening, possible.