Whilst the training to this point has been awesome, nothing beats standing in a hall with hundreds of international karateka! So much has happened here, I want to drink in every moment and somehow bottle the motivation I’ve found for those days when life has me down and I can’t or don’t have the heart to train.
I really don’t want this blog to be a list of all the things that I’ve done on holidays rather to point out the standout moments, be it for life experiences or training. This Gishik we are split between two different venues, a success factor really, we don’t all fit into the Budokan anymore. My group is in the Karate Kaiken which is just over 4.5kms from my apartment, this is an easily manageable distance for running in the UK, in the heat of Okinawa… not so much. In any case I decided to run it and arrived to the first day of training with a nuclear red face.
I sometimes can’t believe it when I see the line up of Senseis we have in the IOGKF… and having been in other associations where things pretty much fell apart when key Senseis sadly departed this world I really try not to take anything for granted. Class after class of instruction and the bar only got higher…
After training we headed off on a wee tour and spent time in one of the most sacred places on the island of Okinawa… click here. Called Sefa-utaki this was a short bus trip from Naha but what really amazed me was the simplicity of the area. It was simply so beautiful, one of those places where I would visit again and in my own time, just sit and listen to the nature all around. I miss the closeness to nature that London took from me when I moved over, here the largest butterflies were just wandering around and were oblivious as to how beautiful I thought they are.
Wednesday saw the entire gasshuku head to the Budokan for a special training session with Higaonna Sensei. I had no official training that day and actually decided to do some shopping and also to rest. This is very difficult for me as I’m pretty much happiest on the go rather than someone who can sit nicely and do nothing. I was in tears at the applause that Higaonna Sensei received after this session and then it was onto the mammoth task of getting set up for the gishiki photograph. We heard from Bakkies Sensei that this was in fact a session that made history, the first time that someone in their 80’s had taught a gasshuku in Okianwa and of course the numbers were staggering. Once done and the England picture out of the way, it was off to the beach to sit in the water and finally cool down.
After a great morning of training in the Karate Kaiken on Thursday it was back into the wonderfully comfortable timetable of lunch and then shureido and then Starbucks. Now I’ve mentioned this before, but many years ago, a very famous Karateka Steve Cattle encouraged me to get as much out of life as possible. He was someone who said that life was for living in balance, but that the level of the balance was something that you could control yourself. So after the sun went down, I went to Shuri Castle, as luck would have it a small thunderstorm went overhead and the mixture of the sky and the light, together with the lightning was just amazing. I spent ages trying to take in as much as possible and although I’ve been here many times the pure beauty never ceases to amaze me.
I met a lovely lady on the monorail home, she was amazing that we had travelled all the way to Okinawa for Karate! Okinawa you never cease to amaze me, my only complaint… time is going to quickly!