Friday, 13 September 2013

A view of Okinawan karate & kobudo today...

I came across an interesting t.v. program on YouTube, from Hong Kong I think (?), and thought it captured a little of the way karate and kobudo is practised in Okinawa at the moment. Many of the sensei will be familiar to you, but I was fascinated to see an old training partner of mine, Yamashiro san, still going strong at the Higaonna dojo, he's seen doing a little body conditioning and kakie with one of the shows presenters. Ko Uehara sensei's younger brother, Yonekazu, who many would remember as one of the two students (the other being Kamimura sensei) attacking Higaonna sensei at the end of  the 1980's B.B.C. documentary series 'Way of the Warrior', is also seen training.

Although based at the Higaonna dojo in Makishi, the visitors also stop by the Shureido store and venture out to other parts of the island to visit with other well known and respected sensei. In Pt 2, they visit Hokama sensei's dojo and museum in Nishihara, taking in the fantastic collection of images and artifacts on display. We also get to see the uchi deshi facilities that Hokama sensei is happy to allow visitors to use when training at the dojo, before Hokama sensei displays a little of his particular approach to karate in his usual good-hearted way: smiling while inflicting pain!

In the third and final instalment, we pay a visit to Nakamoto sensei's Bunbukan dojo in Shuri. I visited the Bunbukan dojo myself a couple of years ago and had a fascinating discussion with Nakamoto sensei about the history of karate in the Tori-Hori district of Shuri where the Bunbukan dojo stands; it opened my eyes to the history of karate in that particular part of Okinawa. There are some great demonstrations of kobudo kata and kigu-undo in this part of the show.

For readers who have never been to Okinawa, but want to go, my advice would be to stay clear of the highly organised school trips arranged by businessmen with a $ sign in their eyes. If you want to experience Okinawan karate and kobudo in a meaningful way, as you see in the dojo here, then you can do no better than contact the Okinawan Karate Kobudo Liaison Bureau. The people there will help you connect to a dojo, free of charge. All you need to do is listen to their advice, find the courage to go, and then enjoy the reward of your efforts.