John Hamric returns to Okinawa
Five years have passed since my last trip to Okinawa. Past trips have been to attend seminars. This trip was to attend one on one sessions with Sensei’s. A special thanks to Mr. Riki Nomura for the arrangements of training times with Arakaki Sensei and Tome Sensei.
My week began with training in Arakaki Sensei’s dojo. Although I have attended seminars in the US in the past taught by Sensei, this was my first opportunity to train with him as the only student. The one on one sessions allow for direct observations of all techniques which in turn in my case lead to many suggestions for improvement. For anyone who has not had the opportunity to experience this type of instruction, I would highly recommend that you do so.
The second day of training, Sensei introduced me to bo kata Shiromatsu. After a brief instruction of this kata, he allowed me to attend a training session at his original dojo. Words cannot express the gratitude for having experienced this session. To be allowed the opportunity to train with some of Sensei’s students was unbelievable. During this session, I also met a fellow US country man, Jason Christian, from the Cocoa Beach Shorin-Ryu dojo. This was Jason’s last night of training of a three month stay. I envy anyone being able to spend this much time in this beautiful area learning about the art of karate.
My third day of training was devoted to continuing the instruction of bo kata Shiromatsu. Although I have trained with bo in the past, I had never been introduced to a true Matsubayashi-Ryu style of bo kata. It was an honor to have been taught this kata from Sensei. In addition to kata, I was also instructed in the six kumi-bo drills. I have in the past been introduced to these drills, but did not have the time to completely learn them. My thoughts are that these drills would be extremely valuable in teaching students bo technique. To me these can be utilized similar to bunkai in open hand kata to allow students to visualize the meaning of movements contained in bo kata.
My time in Tome Sensei’s dojo was spent on correcting bad habits that I have allowed to develop even in basic techniques. I personally appreciated this feedback since in most instances I do not take the time to critique my own movements. Sensei also observed my kata to provide feedback on some finer points.
I would like to again thank both Sensei’s for providing me the time that they did. A special thank you for the hospitality shown to me by Arakaki Sensei. His hospitality truly made this trip one that I will never forget. Not to diminish the importance of any of the other Sensei’s, but we as an organization, the WMKA, are extremely fortunate to have Arakaki Sensei as an ambassador for the organization. His willingness to endure the discomfort of travel to countries all over the world and his knowledge of the English language is much appreciated by many who have had the experience of attending one of his seminars.
Okinawa is one of my favorite places on earth to visit. The weather is perfect, the scenery is spectacular, and the people are friendly. I certainly am looking forward to returning next year for the dedication of the O’Sensei Nagamine monument and seminar.