Japan Tour Pt 3: Kobudo Grading and Sightseeing – March 16-26, 2015

The following article continues the story of the 2015 KIMAA Group Tour to Japan. Click here to read Part 1 and click here to read Part 2.

We had no training on Monday, so we used the free time to enjoy doing a couple of Kyokushin photo shoots, following the paths of many martial artists before us. First, we did a shoot at Shurijo.

Sempai Alex Lloyd, Sensei Mark McFadden, Sensei Jon Ellis, Shihan Rick Cunningham, Sempai Don Cheong, Sempai James Campbell and Trish Tan at Shurijo, Okinawa.
Sempai Alex Lloyd, Sensei Mark McFadden, Sensei Jon Ellis, Shihan Rick Cunningham, Sempai Don Cheong, Sempai James Campbell and Trish Tan at Shurijo, Okinawa

We then went to the old ruins of Nakagusuku and continued the shoot.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

On Tuesday morning, Sensei Hokama presented new Kobudo black belt grades, based on the Friday and Saturday sessions and on the recommendation of Shihan Lipman and Shihan Cunningham. The new Kobudo grades included:

7th Dan

Shihan Howard Lipman

6th Dan

Shihan Rick Cunningham

4th Dan

Sensei Mark Shelmerdine

3rd Dan

Sensei Paul Finnerty

Sensei Mark McFadden

2nd Dan

Sensei Jon Ellis

Sempai James Campbell

1st Dan

Sensei Ian Holdaway

Sempai Jessica Den

Sempai Todd Murphy

Sempai Alex Lloyd

Congratulations to all the new Kobudo grades!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

KIMAA tour group with Sensei Hokama and Shihan Ogura
KIMAA tour group with Sensei Hokama and Shihan Ogura

Sensei was still feeling unwell so his visiting Branch Chief from Nagoya, Shihan Ken Ogura, took the class. Shihan Ogura was very impressed with the standard displayed by KIMAA and proclaimed the “Australian team” the best he had ever taught!

Shihan Ken Ogura with nunchaku.
Shihan Ken Ogura with nunchaku

We had the afternoon off. Some of the group took Trish to the Chinese Gardens, where we enjoyed the tranquility of the grounds.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

That night it was back to Sensei’s dojo for our final training session. Sensei watched as Shihan Arakawa took the class. We did some fitness and conditioning, then some more traditional Okinawan training, including moving through Sanchin with jars and dumbbells. We then moved onto kata and bunkai.

Tuesday night class.
Tuesday night class

The following day, Wednesday March 18, we were off to Hiroshima for the next stage of our trip.

We left Hiroshima on Friday but did a lot in our brief time there. This included taking a ferry to Miyajima to explore the island and climb to the peak of Mt Misen; visiting the Hiroshima Peace Park and Museum; and seeing Hiroshima Castle. Sensei Mark had been to Hiroshima before and took up the mantle of KIMAA Tour Guide.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

After Hiroshima we made our way to Kyoto. We explored the markets on Friday afternoon and went to a green tea shop.

We started off Saturday with a traditional green tea ceremony, which was delicious and enjoyable.

We spent the rest of Saturday and Sunday exploring a range of beautiful shrines and temples. These included the streets surrounding Kiyomizu-dera (Sannenzaka and Ninenzaka) and the nearby Yasaka no To Pagoda; Kodai-ji; Kennin-ji; Heian Shrine; Nanzen-ji, Eikan-do Zenrin-ji; Ginkaku-ji and Kinkaku-ji. We also perambulated the Philosopher’s Walk, all the while admiring the local scenery.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The cherry blossoms were just starting to come into bloom during our time in Kyoto.

On Monday the group went to Kurama and hiked through the mountains to Kibune, where it snowed as we finished the trek. We then made our way back to Kurama to relax in the outdoor Onsen while the snow fell.

Shihan Rick Cunningham in the sleet of Kibune.
Shihan Rick Cunningham in the sleet of Kibune

Tuesday was the group’s final day in Kyoto. They started with Sanjusangen-do Temple, featuring the Hall of 1001 Kannon Statues. The group split up for the rest of the day, until a final dinner that night: Shihan Lipman and Masumi shopped; Shihan Cunningham, Sensei Mark, Sensei Jon and Trish went back to Kiyomizu-dera and the surrounding streets, followed by watching an impressive archery demonstration at the Budo Centre; and Sempai Don, Sempai James and Sempai Alex shopped and enjoyed the food markets, and Sempai Alex also went to Nijo Castle.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The group arrived safe and sound back in Sydney on the morning of Thursday March 26. The trip was a great success and very enjoyable, from Sempai Don and Sempai James competing at a high standard in the tournament; quality training with Sensei Hokama and Shihan Ogura; a number of new Kobudo black belt grades; and the sightseeing in Hiroshima and Kyoto.

Shihan Lipman and Shihan Cunningham are now looking ahead to consolidate the knowledge gained on the trip and to pass it onto the wider KIMAA student body. Of particular note is the upcoming seminar in May.

The rest of the group thank Shihan Lipman, Masumi and Shihan Cunningham for a wonderful trip!