The 5th Southern Cross Martial Arts Association training tour to Okinawa has concluded successfully with our members returning home on the 12th, and our Melbourne friends moving on to Tokyo for another week.
The trip commenced with Kobudo training straight up on the Monday morning, working on the bo kata Ufugushuku no kon. Some of us had a bit of an idea but for some it was a first time experience. Training was led by Satoshi Kinjo Sensei (7th dan) of the Ryukyu Kobudo Hozonkai and held at the Kubogawa Dojo in Shuri. It was fun and educational and Kinjo Sensei was very patient.
After training we went upstairs to Masakazu Kinjo Sensei’s private Kobudo Museum. The newcomers were suitably impressed.
That evening we attended training with Taira Masaji Sensei (9th dan) of the Okinawa Goju Ryu Kenkyukai working primarily on Gekisai and applications contained therein. As usual there were refinements and any number of personal “aha!” moments. Afterwards Taira Sensei and his wife Taira Chioko Sensei (she is a senior teacher of Ryukyuan classical dance and culture) laid on a welcome party that went well into the night.
Among the many taste treats for the evening was horse sashimi, a favourite of Sensei’s, as well as plenty of tuna and salmon sashimi and no end of the local tiny chorizo sausages and, of course, Orion beer.
Tuesday we headed to Shureido for custom gi purchases, including name embroidery etc before wandering around Kokusai Dori and the Makish Markets for a while and then attending training with Taira Sensei again, this time working on refining Saifa. Once again we were welcomed and treated to Okinawa’s overwhelming hospitality and only made it back to our hotel early in the morning.
Wednesday morning we headed out to the famous Naminoue beach and shrine before heading out to the Budokan to show everyone around. Due to the small size of our group we didn’t train there this year so Hannah and I acted as tour guides and showed everyone around the Budokan, Onayama Koen (the park containing the Budokan) and the shrines on site before catching the monorail out to the magnificent Shuri Castle so Mrs Taira could introduce us properly to Okinawan Dance. It was spellbinding.
After the dance recital finished we quickly headed down to Taira Sensei’s house on foot in the pouring rain. Obviously Mrs Taira knew all of the shortcuts and we also stopped in for a delicious cup of an Okinawan coffee blend. It was “oishi!” Once there was a break in the rain we headed down to the dojo for several hours of work on Seiyunchin before several more hours of Okinawan hospitality.
Thursday morning was a bit of free time before heading to Shuri for Kobudo training with Kinjo Sensei again. We revised the bo kata from our first session as well as a little Shushi no kon Sho, before moving on to the basics of sai. We were all sad to finish training but we had to get going down to Taira Sense’s dojo for another night of training there. We worked on his new grading requirements and especially focused on timing, distancing and ‘kime’. We videoed the new requirements for future reference, and on Sensei’s request, dissemination among the broader kenkyukai organization. After training there was of course eating and drinking and more than a little impromptu karaoke as Taira Sensei and his visitors kicked off on the 50’s rock. It soon got down to broader discussion on musical tastes and Sensei seems to have a soft spot for Jimmy Barnes……go figure. And thanks Youtube 😉
Friday morning we jumped on the monorail to Shuri and then caught a cab to Hokama Sensei’s museum out in the boonies. We had tea with Sensei before checking out the museum and getting some calligraphy done. Dai Sempai Mick got an especially nice one on the local bingata fabric which simply said “home”.
Of course, after all of that we had to head back in to Naha, grab our gear and head off to Taira Sensei’s for training. We reviewed the previous discussions and did some more filming before working on some basic applications and then sitting down to another round of Okinawan hospitality. It was a very late night!
Saturday we walked from Naha to Shuri and walked up the Shurikinjocho stone steps to Shuri Castle. There are lots and lots of these steps…. The ladies had both been to Shuri before so they headed off looking for local craft shops to check out some bingata, an indigenous Okinawan art form with painting on fabric. Sensei Hannah is getting quite a collection of it and Mrs Taira sent her to the good places. Sadly, it was Saturday and most were closed. Next time.
The lads checked out Shuri Castle for a few hours before everyone met up again to get ready to go out to the Miyazato Cultural Centre for our (now) traditional Sayonara party. Taira Sensei and Ms Taira were there, as was Kinjo Sensei and some of our Okinawan friends. Everyone was enthralled by the show and the level of expertise in weapons handling showed by our hosts, the Miyazato family. It was a great ending to the formal part of the trip.
On Sunday morning our Melbournians headed off to Tokyo leaving the Gold Coasters roaming around shopping for souvenirs. We checked out the Tsuboya Pottery street and the area around the Makishi Markets before being taken out for a wonderful Korean Barbecue dinner with Kinjo Sensei. The food never seemed to end and it was awesome!