Trafalgar Square in the heart of London was the venue for this year’s Japan Matsuri Festival. I was overwhelmed with the amount of people in attendance, last year there were 35,000 people but this year there were at least 70,000 people.
His Excellency Mr Keiichi Hayashi, Ambassador of Japan formally opened the 2012 Japan Matsuri, there were Spectacular performances from Taiko Drumming, music from Okinawa and Japanese dance from Tsugaru Shimisen and Violins from the British Suzuki Institute, Lolita Fashions from the Tea Party Club and Children from the Japanese School Tsubasa Children’s Choir, such talented performers.
I first went to Israel in 1972 to conduct a Gasshuku in the Kibbutz Tzora, "place of wasps,” the word Zorah is also the name of an Egyptian Sun God. The most bizarre thing is that as a young child I was attacked by a swarm of wasps.
Anyway back to my story. We enjoy the same thing every year and why not if it brings you happiness? I visit places such as burial grounds according to religious beliefs to receive spiritual guidance, as there are 46 doctrines.
The venue was the famous Okinawa Kenritsu Budokan in Naha, training started at 8am for 3rd – 7th Dan every day, then one hour with the Master for basics which included all grades, then there was group training for 3 hours, so a total of 5 hours.
We were also honoured to be given lectures by Aragaki Shuichi Sensei who was a direct student of Miyagi Chojun Bushi and the Sakiyama Sogen Roshi of Kozenji who also trained with Miyagi Chojun Bushi.
The world famous Higaonna Dojo in Naha, Okinawa is a short walk from the Asato station on the Okinawa Monorail (or Yui Rail). On an exterior wall visitors are greated with the following words:
The kanji next to the IOGKF kenkon reads "Okinawa Goju Ryu" followed by "Higaonna Karate Dojo" in larger print. The remaining text tells us that beginners and women are welcome for maintaining health. These simple words remind us not only that karate is for everyone but this martial art is for the purpose of looking after your body.
Thank you to Kumiko Akamine for the translation.
The OTGKA was asked to give a demonstration at this year's Okinawan Day held in Spitalfield's market, London. Please see this link for a great report of the event, including a brief history of the origins of karate.
Thanks to Ali Muskett for sharing this video of Shisochin kata and the following photos:
More photos of the day are available on Flickr.
When practicing Tensho Kata you should think like the wind and the ocean, that you control their motions and destination with your hands and breathing. Guide them to a calm and tranquil being within the universe.
The opening of the hand signifies knowledge and wisdom, the circle motion back and forward represents the coming together of all people in harmony.
The upper palm strike represents the evolution of time.
The raising and lowering of the wrist and palm signifies the sun and the moon and their destiny.
The moving of both hands in unison signifies negative and positive coming to together creating the energy of life.
Moving the palms together up and over suggests the art of breathing is in and out. When you are born you breathe in and when your time comes, you breathe out.
Tora Guchi signifies the four seasons coming and going. Both palms extended up and down suggest Fearlessness, Compassion and Charity.
The last move to finish, which is hidden, suggests holding the jewel of life, which is Enlightenment, Satori or Nirvana.
The stance Sanchin represents the element of ether, communication with heaven and the silent Gods.
This Kata is alien to most human beings; however the deity seems to be at home with this discipline, understanding the different mudras that this Kata depicts.
On a Buddhist rosary there are 108 beads, 105 eulogize and 3 doctrine, it seems to elude the superficial explorer and will only recognise the truth.
As to the universe, it shows the past, present and the future. We have seen the deity of the past and we now see the deity of the present. We must wait to see the deity of the future.
I look forward in heaven, to looking down on earth and seeing whose destiny is chosen for the future.
Photo courtesy of Dylan MacMaster
Course Report from Martin and Louise Stockley, Cambridge
On a sunny Friday 25th May we boarded the Eurostar at London’s St Pancras station and 2 hours later we arrived in Brussels. We were met by Fréderic Lantreibecq, who whisked us out to our hotel on the outskirts of the city. Sensei Marc Sanglier and his wife Els had done an excellent job organising this first Gasshuku in Brussels and after a brief rest at the hotel we were driven to the training venue by Alex Gherschon, another one of our very welcoming hosts.
Chief Instructor OTGKA