Guido Engels Recent Trip to Okinawa

After a long wait, we made it happen again. From April 15th to April 29th, 2023, Wolfgang
Backes, Leon Engels, and I from the karate department of BWC – Viersen, Germany, visited
the island of Okinawa.

The first week was packed with three training sessions daily, from 10 to 11:30 am, 3 to 4:30 pm, and either 7:30 or 8 pm to 9 or 9:30 pm. We had the opportunity to train with all Senseis: Taira Yoshitaka Sensei, Arakaki Toshimitsu Sensei, Tome Iwao Sensei, Shinzato Masao Sensei, and Makishi Tetsuo Sensei.

On Sunday, April 16th, we also had the opportunity to participate in a seminar with Arakaki Sensei at the Asato Dojo, which was broadcast live online worldwide. At first we had a physical challenge, as jetlag and temperatures affected us. Before that, we took a little first trip to the North of the island to the large aquarium (Churaumi Aquarium) and also explored the Motobu region. It was a perfect first day on Okinawa.

Monday began regular training at the first session with Sensei Tome. Those familiar with
the dojo know that it is an extra pleasure to train there in the sunshine and feels like 30
degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit)!!  At noon, we trained with Shinzato Sensei, and in the evening, with Taira Sensei.

The week was scheduled so that we trained either with Tome or Arakaki Sensei in the
morning, with Shinzato Sensei at noon, and alternatively with Taira Sensei, Makishi Sensei,
and Arakaki Sensei in the evening. Between the sessions, we wanted to take small
sightseeing tours to get to know Okinawa better.

We rented a car for this trip which is recommended when visiting several dojos as some are located outside of Naha (Tome and Shinzato Dojo), and it can be very stressful with taxis or buses. The rental car allowed us to explore the surroundings of each dojo.

We received information and corrections through all the Senseis during the many training
sessions, which improved our karate and provided us with new tasks and methods for
training at home.

At the end of the first week, I was tested for Godan (5th Dan) on Friday, April 21st, at 3 pm
and passed. It was exciting as I stood as the only examinee in front of the examining
committee (Taira Sensei, Arakaki Sensei, and Tome Sensei, with translator Daichi
Sakamoto). I had support from Wolfgang Backes and Leon Engels, who stood by my side during the exam and helped me pass the Kata no bunkai and Yakusoku kumite as partners. Thank you for that. The tension of the first days had disappeared afterwards.

After the evening training with Arakaki Sensei, there was a small celebration.
On Saturday, we had a morning training session with Arakaki Sensei. The rest of Saturday
and Sunday were dedicated to exploring the island. Saturday, we visited the monument
in honor of Shoshin Nagamine Sensei. Sunday, we drove north, where we visited the Hiji Waterfall, the Yambaru Forest Park, and finally, Cape Hedo. They were simply magnificent.

In the second week, we had only two training sessions in the morning and evening from
Monday to Wednesday, a last chance to get more input from all Senseis as well as a little more time to get to know the island and its people.

On Wednesday evening, after the last training session, we had a small Sayonara party and thus completed the training on Okinawa for this year. We have many things to work on for the next number of months at home.

The last 2 days were spent exploring and relaxing. We visited the wonderful Peace Park and spent a day on the islands of Miyagi and Hamahiga, thus creating a beautiful conclusion to our trip.

A special thanks goes to Daichi Sakamoto, who not only translated everything wonderfully
during training at the Taira dojo and also during the examination. He also helped me relax
my body, which was overloaded, by taking me to a master of acupuncture and massage. This allowed me to enjoy the second week more.

It is always a pleasure and a matter of the heart to come to Okinawa. The warmth of the people in Okinawa is just great. A part of my heart is connected to Okinawa.

See you soon, Guido Engels

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Posted in Matsubayashi-ryu.