Sunday, April 22, 2007

Okinawa Trip 2007 - Part 5

Friday, 6 April 2007

Friday morning was my opportunity to pretend I was just a regular tourist in Okinawa. I naturally spent some time at the Shuri castle, which played a big role in the history of karate as many of the karate masters were associated in some way with royalty or of nobility, and the Chibana family was no exception. It was interesting just to be able to see the sites always pictured in various karate history books or on the vast multitude of patches, logos and emblems in dojo all across the world.

Shuri Castle, inner courtyard

The afternoon found me standing by a payphone and Sensei Goodin’s cell phone number nowhere in sight. After trying various ways to contact him, I finally gave up and did what anyone else would have done after walking from the Shuri station to Shuri castle, all around the castle, to Asato from Shuri, and all around town: I went to lunch. After a nice meal of goya chanpuru and tebichi (pig’s feet), I walked around for a few souvenirs and later met up with Sensei at the hotel.

From there, we went to Yonamine Kosuke Sensei’s dojo where we observed his Uechi Ryu practice. True to Uechi Ryu, it involved a lot of testing of muscular tension by hitting the students as they performed their basics and their kata. But just like my opinion on Goju Ryu, I’d rather learn how to hit with devastating power than to take hits. There were a lot of two-person sets where the student performed the kata and basically demonstrated the meaning of the movements with the partner as they went through the form. Amusingly enough, one of the younger students got a big kick out of discovering that karate exists on Hawaii. He apparently had a hard time believing that karate was practiced anywhere outside of Okinawa. After practice, Yonamine Sensei invited us into his house and we had a little to eat and drink while we discussed various things. Sensei told me that when he was on Okinawa, he would fight a lot with Yonamine Sensei because he was the strongest Uechi Ryu fighter back then. In the midst of discussion, Yonamine Sensei said that Sensei was the strongest fighter period back then and that I should continue my training with him (I assuredly will). Our talk was less on the historical side and more on just “catching up”, but it was still enjoyable. After an hour or so, we excused ourselves and made our way back to the hotel. I packed all my stuff and went to bed.

Saturday, 7 April

I got up, gathered my things, checked out of my hotel, and met up with Sensei and Sensei Goodin for breakfast at the little diner we ate at earlier. The plane ride back was uneventful and due to time zone changes, I ended up back in Hawaii about 6 hours before I left.

To be concluded in Part 6

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