Following the organization of a program for 20 students from Cambodia November 16th – 20th, the Okinawa Karate Information Center was requested to plan and implement a three day karate program in Okinawa for 15 American college students.

  This project entitled “Kakehashi Project” was hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and was conducted by the Japan International Cooperation Center (JICE) Kyushu Branch.

  Participants were students of 15 universities and educational institutions in the United States, from places such as Washington, Alaska, California, Massachusetts, etc. They also are students of various karate styles like Shōtōkan, Shitō-ryū, Wadō-ryū, Kenpō, Gōjū-ryū, Ryūei-ryū, Shaolin Kenpō and Shōrin-ryū. Among them were high level athletes like Brian Irr and Cesar Colunga from the US national team.

  Of a 22 years old age average, the group visited the Okinawa Karate Kaikan on January 18th. After listening to a lecture by OKIC Uehara Kunio, the trainees watched a demonstration that occurred on the same day at the Kaikan.

  Discovering the essence of Okinawa traditional karate being one of the purposes of their visit, the party trained on the morning of 19th with Muramatsu Masataka, Takara Seigō and Hirata Seiei, instructors at the Okinawa Gōjū-ryū Karatedō Association. They experienced the unique training method of Nahate and the kata Fukyū gata II, etc.


  After lunch and the visit of the Kaikan’s Archives, the US students joined a seminar on Shurite taught by Uema Takeshi of the Shubukan Uema Karate Dōjō. After being explained the difference between Nahate and Shurite, they learned the kata Naihanchi, and Fukyū gata I, practicing various exercises.


  Fukyū gata I and II were devised in 1941 by Masters Nagamine Shōshin and Miyagi Chōjun, who were appointed by Hayakawa Hajime, Governor of Okinawa at that time. The kata were meant to spread and develop Karate, thus the name fukyū or diffusion. The first one includes the basic technique of Shurite while the second one is a combination of basic Nahate and Gōjū-ryū techniques.


  During the 3 day schedule, an exchange with local college karate students was also planned. On the third day, January 20th, the group visited the campus of Okinawa University for a practice session with the members of the said university karate club joined by Okinawa International University karateka. Over 2 hours, under the guidance of Ikemiyagi Taku and Shimoji Eisaku, everyone enjoyed sweating together while deepening friendship.


  After experiencing a night in private houses in the southern part of the main island of Okinawa, the US team returned to Tōkyō on the 22nd, visited the All Japan Karatedō Federation for a lecture and returned home.