From November 7 through the 20th, and after years of delays due to Covid-19 restrictions, I had the chance to visit Okinawa once again. This was my third trip to the island, and I was grateful for another opportunity to explore some of the key karate-related sites in Naha, partake in my favorite delicious and traditional foods, and most importantly, to train with Taira Yoshitaka Sensei, Arakaki Toshimitsu Sensei, Tome Iwao Sensei, and Makishi Tetsuo Sensei.
I stayed near the Tsubogama monorail station, and because I was in walking distance to the central Naha Bus Station, I enjoyed exploring the city through public transportation which also allowed me to try and practice my extremely poor Japanese. With training sessions each morning at 10 am, and each evening at 8 pm, I not only took the bus, but often walked across the city to the various dojos, getting to know the city much better in that way. Each day, for lunch, I tried to find a new Soba, Ramen, or Sushi restaurant, while also exploring the many shops and markets on my way.
In the second week, I was joined by four European members of the WMKA, Steve and Sally Woolston, Heinz Tessner, and Joel Castasus. We all trained together at the dojos of Taira Sensei, Arakaki Sensei, Tome Sensei and Makishi Sensei in the mornings and evenings. Together, we explored the Karate Kaikan, the Budokan, and the recently unveiled memorial monument to Osensei Shoshin Nagamine. The training was fascinating, and I spent every evening writing notes and reviewing what we had explored in that day’s keiko.
In particular our training focused on all five of our upcoming dan grading tests, which were scheduled for Sunday, November 20. On Saturday, November 19, we had one final training with Arakaki sensei, and were joined by twelve other Karate students and their respective senseis from Mainland Japan, who would also be testing with us the following day. It was a wonderful experience to meet and train with these other visitors, and reinforced for me what a welcoming worldwide family the WMKA is.
I am deeply indebted to Riki Nomura Sensei for all of his help in making this trip possible, and of course to Senseis Taira, Arakaki, Tome, and Makishi for their invaluable teaching, their deep knowledge, and their overwhelmingly kind welcome.
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