Saturday, June 25, 2011

A Strong Testament to Willpower and Training: Hawaii Karate Kenkyukai - June 12, 2011

This was quite a memorable Kenkyukai training session for me, for many reasons! The June 12, 2011 session once again had us joined by Walter Nishioka Sensei and his International Karate League (IKL). In addition, George Sasano Sensei, head of the Aikenkai Dojo, demonstrated and fully participated in the training despite not being fully recovered from an ongoing equilibrium condition (tinnitus). After this session, both Nishioka Sensei and Sasano Sensei were voted in as full members of the Hawaii Karate Kenkyukai, something which required 100% approval from all current members.

A big treat for me personally was the full participation of my instructor, Pat Nakata Sensei (OSKA), a mere month and a half after he suffered a heart attack due to either ventricular fibrillation or tachycardia followed by 11 days in the ICU. The cause of his heart going out of rhythm remains unknown, only that it was not due to cholesterol or clogged arteries. Some present at the session remarked that it was a miraculous recovery, which is indeed true, but I got to witness his refusal to “take it easy” and persistence in training over the past several weeks. On one of the nights, he told me, “I will not let this heart attack beat me.” It was not long until the rest of us in OSKA were back to pushing ourselves to keep pace with him. I am convinced his karate training before and after his heart attack drove the “miracle” behind his amazing recovery. Sasano Sensei joked that he was forced to perform at this Kenkyukai session since Nakata Sensei’s example took away any excuse he had... it is good to see that they can both joke about it, and better still, what more powerful testament to willpower and dedicated training can you have?

Getting back to the actual session, the two main kata performed and studied were Seienchin/Seiyunchin/Seiunchin and the Patsai/Passai/Bassai kata. Kyokushin Karate, the Minakami Dojo, and the Senbukan Dojo performed the Seiunchin kata, demonstrating similarities and variations in meaning and execution across the different styles.

The OSKA dojo demonstrated the Patsai Dai, or Matsumura Patsai, while the Hikari Dojo demonstrated the Tomari Passai. They were followed by the Island Ki, IKL, and Aikenkai dojos performing the Bassai/Passai Sho, or Passai Gwa. The “gwa” is an Okinawan word for “small”, which is the same meaning as “sho”. This kata was created by Itosu, who only taught the short, minor kata to some of his students. It was largely popularized by Tokuda Anbun and after some modifications, the kata became known in Shito Ryu and Shotokan karate as (Itosu) Passai/Bassai Sho. Note that this is a separate kata from what is considered the “main” Itosu Patsai, which is called Patsai Sho by Shorin Ryu and Passai/Bassai Dai by most other styles and was the focus of the Kenkyukai session before this one. It was interesting to see the Patsai kata performed one after the other, each with their own distinct “feel”.

Rounding off the kata portion of the session, the Ryukyu Kobudo group performed the Kyan Sai no Kata Dai, which is technically not a Ryukyu Kobudo kata and has it’s lineage in Kyan Shinei Sensei. It is also known as the Ufuchiku kata, as it was created by Kanagusuku Sanda “Ufuchiku” Sensei. A signature feature is the triple slashing movements to the head, shoulder, and hip/hand levels.

Performing the Kata (in order):
Seienchin - Kyokushin Karate - Herbert Ishida Sensei (Bobby Lowe Sensei's representative)
Seiyunchin - Minakami Dojo - Sean Roberts Sensei
Seiunchin - Senbukan Dojo - Alan Lee Sensei with Kyle Nakasone Sensei and Ryan Okata
Patsai Dai - OSKA - Pat Nakata Sensei, Alan Yokota, Steve Chun, Grant Kawasaki, and John Oberle
Tomari Passai - Hikari Dojo - Charles Goodin Sensei
Bassai Sho - Island Ki dojo - Hisae Ishii-Chang Sensei
Passai Sho - International Karate League - Stephen Lodge (representing Walter Nishioka Sensei)
Passai Guwa - Ninchokan Dojo - Angel Lemus Sensei and his wife Judy Lemus Sensei
Bassai Sho - Aikenkai Dojo - George Sasano Sensei
Kyan Sai no Kata Dai - Ryukyu Kobudo - Pat Nakata Sensei, Alan Yokota (representing Fumio Nagaishi Sensei), Roy Rivera, and John Oberle

Walter Nishioka Sensei, Rodney Shimabukuro Sensei, Carl Kinoshita, and Tommy Terayama.

After the session was over, our customary light refreshments as we talked story turned into quite the potluck as food and drink was provided by the following: Grant Kawasaki/Hanapaa Sushi, Steve Chun/C.Q. Yee Hop Co./Commercial Enterprises, Alan Lee Sensei, Hisae Ishii-Chang Sensei, Charles Goodin Sensei, Sean Roberts Sensei, Rodney Shimabukuro Sensei, Alan Yokota, and Pat Nakata Sensei.

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