Throughout the year, our center receives and manages many requests of all kinds. Among these, the requests for dojo internships and training make up a large percentage.
As of March 31st, OKIC has received 130 requests from individuals and organizations for the Heisei 29 fiscal year (April 2017-March 2018). This represents a total of 354 people from 24 countries. Note that for this kind of service, we only help people who have no contact in Okinawa Prefecture.
All requests were matched with 60 local dōjō and instructors of Okinawa karate and kobudō.
The percentage of requests by region is Asia 36%, the Americas 33%, Europe 27% and Oceania 4%.
The number of people by area is a breakdown of 178 people from Asia (47 projects), 92 people from the Americas (43 projects), 74 people from Europe (35 projects) and 10 people from Oceania (5 projects).
Countries from where originated most visitors are in order Japan, the United States, France, Canada and Germany.
Below, some pictures of these training our center organized. (In no particular order)
From August 1st, the Okinawa Prefecture will carry out the 1st Okinawa Karate International Tournament. The aim is to promote the preservation and succession of the technique and spirituality of Okinawa karate and exchanges between karate enthusiasts in the cradle that is Okinawa, thus promoting Okinawa traditional karate and kobudō.
On April 23rd, which will be 100 days until the opening of the tournament, an event marking this date will be held at the Okinawa Prefecture Office building.
Date and time: April 23rd, (Monday) 10:45 to 15:00
Place: Prefectural office 1st floor - Prefectural hall
Contents: 1- Okinawa karate demonstration (10: 45 - 12: 00)
2- Experiencing Okinawa karate through Virtual Reality (VR) (12: 00-15: 00)
Last fiscal year, the Okinawa Prefecture Government implemented an Okinawa karate public relations project. One part of the project was the "Karate Jet" launch. Another part was the creation of a promotional video of Okinawa traditional karate utilizing 3DCG (3 dimensional computer graphics) motion capture Virtual Reality.
On April 6, a press conference was held at Okinawa Cellular Building in Naha following the completion of the project.
Explanations were given by Yamakawa Tetsuo, manager of Okinawa Prefectural Culture, Tourism and Sports Department Karate Promotion Division, Shinjō Kiyohide sensei of Uechi-ryū who cooperated in the project demonstrating the kata "Sanseiryu", Okinawa Cellular Telephone Corporation Kaida Hirofumi, as well as Horino Makoto and Tomita Nobuyasu, both producers at IMAGICA West Co., Ltd. Located in Osaka, this company is in the business of developing advanced video production.
The production was done at a special photography studio located in Kyōto prefecture, "CGCG Studio" in Okinawa City and at the Special dōjō of the Okinawa Karate Kaikan. There, the kata performed by Shinjō sensei was captured using high definition technique to give two VR movies; one is the actual kata of 1 minute 29 seconds while the 2nd movie aims at being used as a teaching material.
When experiencing the movie using a dedicated google device, one can see the performance from all angles at a never seen close distance, truly rendering the power and beauty of traditional karate. In addition, skills and technique can also be analyzed in details.
About this project, Mr. Yamakawa explained that he wanted people to be able to experience the true martial nature of Okinawa karate while also promoting the birthplace of karate that is Okinawa. In addition, emphasizing "the difference of quality between amusement and culture", he explained that although a possibility, online distribution would not render the awesomeness of karate if seen on a normal screen. Therefore rather than distribution on the Internet, this 3DCG movie will be presented in various prefecture-sponsored events through hands-on experience corner using the dedicated google device.
Public release in the prefecture will be held on Monday, April 23, during the 100 days before the First Okinawa karate international tournament. The movie will also be introduced during the international tournament to which more than 1,900 people have registered.
(From the top left) The press conference, making in the studio, images of the actual kata performance
We have released a digest version movie of the demonstration “The world of Okinawa Karate” presented on January 18, 2018 at the Okinawa Karate Kaikan.
March 30th, a new special exhibition was opened to the public at the Okinawa Karate Kaikan. To commemorate the opening, a special talk-show sponsored by the prefectural Karate Promotion Division was held.
The speakers were Uechi-ryū Tomoyose Ryūkō and Uehara Takenobu as well as Gōjū-ryū Higaonna Morio. The three masters are Okinawa Prefecture designated intangible cultural asset holders. The talk-show was coordinated by Yamakawa Tetsuo, head of the Prefecture’s Karate Promotion Division. More than 60 people attended the event.
90 years old Tomoyose sensei was the first to address the audience. Born in Motobu town in the northern part of Okinawa’s main island, he later enrolled in Icchu (1). The first 2 years, he was able to study regularly but the third year, with the war advancing, he was more involved with military works than with school activities. On March 23 of 1945, he travelled all the way to Nakijin village in order to get a seal from his parents allowing him to join the Kinnō Tai (2). The fact that he was not able to return to the southern part of the main island saved his life.
After telling episodes of his youth, he recalled with much humor stories when teaching karate in the United States, ending his address saying, "Without karate I wouldn’t have had such experiences."
Next, Uehara sensei (88) talked about the past and recalled the teachings of his father and teacher, Uehara Saburō sensei. “Karate is a mean to eliminate likes and dislikes. Karate, which is a fight with oneself, aims at polishing oneself and train the spirit”. He added, “When one gets stuck, returning to the breathing of Sanshin kata will open the path”.
In addition, Uehara sensei introduced the project of the bronze statue of Uechi Kanbun which will be unveiled on April 21. Mentioning the positive cooperation of all Uechi-ryū groups, he stressed that “The proverb ‘you can do it if you try’ is the heart of karate". This means that if one does karate, he or she can overcome any kind of difficulty.
Finally, Higaonna Morio sensei talked about his early years in karate. Being more adept to outdoor activities rather than academic studies, his father who practiced Shōrin-ryū took him to watch karate. Later, young Higaonna joined the Miyagi garden dōjō and received tuition from Miyagi Anichi sensei. Moving to Tōkyō, he taught at the Yoyogi dōjō. Through his exchanges with the All Japan Karatedō Federation and the French Karate Federation, he was invited overseas and started teaching in many countries.
He ended his address speaking about the UNESCO karate registration emphasizing the high cultural value of karate, an art born in such a small island, Okinawa.
The new exhibition inside the Archives starts on March 30th.
The contents is as follow:
- Panel exhibition of Uechi-ryū and Gōjū-ryū
- Hand and foot prints of famous masters of Uechi-ryū and Gōjū-ryū
- Actual size panels of masters
- Audio tapes records of Gōjū-ryū master Miyagi Anichi
- Movies of kata and interview of Uechi-ryū
(1) What is nicknamed "Icchu" is the Okinawa prefectural primary junior high school. It is the current Okinawa prefectural Shuri Senior High School.
(2) Tekketsu Kinnō Tai can be translated as Blood and Iron Emperor Loyal Corps. It was a juvenile troop unit composed of students of 14-16 years old who were mobilized by the Japanese army during the Battle of Okinawa.
(Flyer distributed during the event)