CCRKA in Japan – 2018
Prepared by Andre Buret
Photography: Troy Feener and David Gannon
Wednesday, April 11, 2018. Nineteen happy faces from the CCRKA are at an airport, somewhere in Canada, from PEI to BC. They are on their way to join sensei Higashi for a tour in Japan that will surely become history, at least in their own lives.
Narita airport, Tokyo. All nineteen faces, still thrilled despite the long flight, are collected successfully by the guide. No-one missing, amazing! Off to the domestic terminal, for another 3 hour flight to Okinawa. Arrival in Naha, Okinawa, at 21:05 local time, to the welcome of Shimabukuro sensei. The 19 “warriors”, by now rather drowsy, quickly find out sleeping will have to wait a bit: There is a welcome dinner organized at Jinanbou, where a wealth of fabulous Okinawan food, ..and sake, is waiting for us. Even the venomous snake-laced sake tasted wonderful! . Later that night, the pillows of the hotel rooms received a bunch of elated, if not somewhat spaced-out, heads into their feathers.
April 13. The real excitement starts: Two training sessions with sensei Simabukuro, world master of Shorin Ryu, and long-lost friend of sensei Higashi, who says: “He owes hosting us for as visit since he beat me in that famous kumite match in Japan”! Our workouts were held at the one-and-a-half year-old immaculate Okinanawa Karate center (“karate kaikan”), now part of a newly recognized martial arts historical World-Heritage site. The massive one-story construction accommodates a number of spacious dojos, all arranged around one magnificent hall: A “Four-competition-mats” sized flawless wooden floor surrounded by spectacular rows of bleachers made of Okinawan pine. The intense atmosphere of Okinawan martial arts history is palpable.
The visit of the martial arts history museum inside the building, combined with our learning of the promotional kata developed by Shimabukuro sensei “fukyu kata”, completed these truly life-changing 3 days in Okinawa. Let alone the evening at the “DOJO bar” where a few found an unreachable spot on the bar’s wall to inscribe a message of CCRKA’s visit between the multitude of others from around the World, for posterity…
April 16, off to Kumamoto, an hour and 15 minute flight away. One of the highlights of the entire tour was of course the visit with sensei Kugizaki and his group. The warmth of the welcome from “the always smiley” sensei Nagata, sensei Yamazaki, and of course from sensei Kugizaki, was simply overwhelming. We had the tremendous privilege to be hosted by sensei Kugizaki for a great training session in his hombu dojo. There, we lived the emotional presentation of the 10th dan title by sensei Higashi to sensei Kugizaki.