Lead by the #1 tour guide, Sensei Advincula, our group set off on a walking tour of Agena, Okinawa. The Agena dojo was where Shimabuku Tatsuo (our style’s founder) trained my teacher’s teacher, Sensei Advincula (did I mention he’s the #1 tour guide?). Sensei spoke of how the dojo helped the local economy, as Okinawan and American students bought gi (uniforms), weapons, and makiwara from local businesses. Though the dojo and businesses no longer exist, it was important for us to see and document these old historical locations related to Isshinryu Karate.
We walked to the town of Gushikawa to the Isshinryu Karate World Headquarters dojo, where Shimabuku’s first son, Kichiro is now the head of Isshinryu. The dojo was closed so we couldn’t see inside.
In the same town, we were able to locate the property of Shimabuku’s first dojo, where he officially named our style, Isshinryu (one heart way or whole heart way). When Shimabuku’s top student asked him, “Why such a funny name?” Shimabuku replied, “Because all things begin with one.” This is so true for any venture, be it karate, writing, or even a relationship. You have to start somewhere. You must take that first step.
We drove to the tombs of Shimabuku Tatsuo, and his second son Shinsho (who had been instrumental in passing on his father’s karate) to pay our respects. On the way back, the group got to see livestock, a dam, and a garbage dump. Twice! Both our navigator and driver (*cough*Scott*cough*) told us that it was intentional, as they wanted us to see ALL of Okinawa. The #1 tour guide and the rest of us didn’t quite buy it.
Also during our trip, we visited the Budokan, a huge martial center, where the Okinawan Karatedo Kobudo World Tournament took place. The first floor of the three story dojo houses a weight room and a karate dojo, kendo is on the second floor, and judo is on the third. There was also a small cultural room but it was closed.
Our group also had the honor of training at the Ryukonkai dojo under Grand Master Iha Kotaro and Iha Mitsutada Sensei, the 2009 Okinawan Karatedo Kobudo World Champion in bo (6 foot staff). Ryukonkai is a kobudo school, meaning they teach traditional Okinawan weapons. The dojo, located on the second floor, had no air conditioning…oh yeah, and it was August. You bet I was dripping in sweat before I stepped out onto the hardwood floors! We learned some of their kata (forms), which uses a much deeper stance than we were used to. Good leg workout! Iha Kotaro Hanshi’s favorite quote is “You should not love to fight, but not, even for a moment, forget to prepare for fighting” by Miyamoto Musashi, The book of Five Rings.
The Codes of Conduct posted in the Ryukonkai dojo state:
- Be civil, courteous, disciplined and well behaved.
- Aim to train your mental and spiritual power as well as your physical power.
- Endurance is the key to success.
- Respect your seniors and love your juniors.
- Regard every member of the dojo as brothers and sisters and treat them as such.
- Try to master the most efficient skill of self-defense; preparing for the emergency.
Did you notice the first code of conduct? In Okinawa, everything comes back to courtesy.