Karate for all
November 6th to 11th in Madrid, Spain, the WKF’s 24th World Karatedō Championships was held. Representing Japan, Okinawans Kiyūna Ryō, Kinjō Arata and Uemura Takuya brought back the gold in team kata while Kiyūna won for the third consecutive time in individual kata. They are all members of Okinawa Ryūei-ryū Karate Kobudō Ryūhōkai led by Sakumoto Tsuguo sensei.
At the same time, “The 3rd Para-karate World Championships” was being held. Two athletes from Japan will participated: Ōbata Yasushi in the visually impaired division and Imazaike Shōta in the Intellectually division.
Actually, Mr. Imazaike participated in the “Para-karatedō Goodwill Summit” held on October 27 at the Okinawa Karate Kaikan in Okinawa. This project was mainly organized by the Okinawa Prefecture Sports Association for challenged people, the Hyōgo Prefecture Karatedō Subcommittee for challenged people known as Karatedō Harima, and the Okinawa Karate Information Center.
Did you know that Shimada Akira, the last appointed governor of Okinawa during the Pacific War was from Hyōgo Prefecture? Governor Shimada never returned home passing away during the Battle of Okinawa.
With his spirit as a go-between bridge, in 1972, year of the return to the mainland of Okinawa Prefecture, both prefectural governors signed the Okinawa Prefecture – Hyōgo Prefecture Friendship Treaty. Since then, the two prefectures have been interacting with a spirit of fraternity. So far both prefectures held fraternity camps among other events. This time, the “Para-Karatedō Goodwill Summit in Okinawa” was indeed a new step towards the future.
On October 27, 18 challenged people from Hyōgo Prefecture and 11 supporters gathered at the Okinawa Karate Kaikan and enjoyed a joint practice and exchange together with Okinawan karate practitioners.
In the first half of the joint practice, the proponent of this project, Tanaka Hiroyuki of Karatedō Harima led the warming up and basic training.
In the latter half, Gōjū-ryū Hokama Kazuhiro and Shōrin-ryū Gushikawa Mitsuhiko taught the kata “Fukyū-gata-1” and “Fukyū-gata-2” formulated in 1941 by Nagamine Shōshin and Miyagi Chōjun.
After the joint practice, a Forum titled “The future of Para Karatedō” was held. Prior to the lecture, Mr. Imazaike representing Hyōgo Prefecture performed the Shitō-ryū kata “Anankō”. At the age of 18, he won both kata and kumite at the “First All Japan Para-Karatedō Championships”. He participated in the “The 2nd World ParaKaratedō Championships” held in Austria in 2016. This year, he was in Madrid for the 3rd edition of this Para-karate championships.
Following Mr. Imazaike, Kohagura Yoshiaki representing Okinawa Prefecture took the floor. In 1968, Mr. Kohagura who is visual impaired entered the Miyagi Dōjō belonging of Miyagi Takeshi, present head of the Okinawa Shōrin-ryū Karatedō Association. He has been practicing since then Shōrin-ryū, one of the three major styles of Okinawa karate. With 50 years of karate background, Mr. Kohagura brilliantly performed the kata “Itosu no passai”.
After the demonstrations, Mr. Kohagura talked about his life experiences. His comment on how karate supported him to overcome life hardships moved the audience. Mr. Tanaka also spoke about his experiences in teaching in the challenged environment.
Lastly, a social gathering was held, and everyone from both prefectures ended the day in a pleasant mood.
On the 28th, the visiting party did some sightseeing and enjoyed the demonstrations for the Day of Karate held in Kokusai Street in Naha City before returning home.
This event was able due to the cooperation of the following karate masters: Gushikawa Mitsuhiko, secretary general of Okinawa Prefecture Karatedō Rengōkai, Kakinohana Hiromitsu, board chairman of the Wakaba Nursery School and Matsubayashi-ryu practitioner, Nakamura Yukio of Shōrin-ryū, Okinawa Shōrin-ryū Taishinkan Association Hamakawa Akemi.