From November 7th through the 20th, I had the chance to once again visit Okinawa. This was my third trip to the island, and I was grateful for the opportunity to explore some of the key karate-related sites in Naha, partake in delicious and traditional food, most importantly, to train with Taira Yoshitaka Sensei, Arakaki Toshimitsu Sensei, Tome Iwao Sensei, and Makishi Tetsuo Sensei.
My first week there, while staying near the Tsubogama monorail station, I was in walking distance to the central Naha Bus Station, and enjoyed exploring the city through the public transportation system. With training sessions each morning at 10 am, and each evening at 8 pm, and I often walked across the city to the dojo, finding it easier to better understand the city in that manner. Each day I tried to find a new Soba, Ramen, or Sushi restaurant for lunch while exploring the many shops and markets on my way.
The second week there, I was joined by four European members of the WMKA, Steve and Sally Wooston, Heinz Tessner, and Joel Castasus, and we trained together in the morning and evenings, and enjoyed visiting the Karate Kaikan, the Budokan, and especially the recently unveiled memorial monument to Osensei Shoshin Nagamine. The training was fantastic, and I spent every evening writing notes and reviewing what we had explored in that day’s sessions.
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 a final training, and were joined by twelve other Karate students from Mainland Japan who would be testing with us the following day. It was a wonderful experience to meet and train with these other visitors, and once again reinforced what a welcoming worldwide family the WMKA is.
Huge thanks go out to Riki Nomura sensei for all of his help in making this trip possible, and of course senseis Taira, Arakaki, Tome, and Makishi for their invaluable teaching, their deep knowledge, and their overwhelmingly kind welcome.