Shihan Cunningham and I travelled together to Okinawa on the 8th of November for one week’s training with Sensei Hokama.
The training consisted of the application of advanced Kata and more advanced Kobudo techniques and their application. Sensei placed great emphasis on the accuracy and speed of techniques and the important difference between instruction at student and teacher levels. Many new things were learnt and other techniques became more refined.
This was our 10th trip to Okinawa to train with Sensei Hokama over the last four years and proved to be most successful.
It came to both of us as a surprise when Sensei asked us to participate in a grade promotion test at the end of the week. As result of this test Shihan Cunningham was awarded 4th Dan and Shihan-dai rank in Kobudo. Sensei Hokama then awarded me 5th Dan and Shihan rank in Kobudo.
We will continue to travel to Okinawa at least once a year to further our training with Sensei and for the future benefit and development of our students.
The much awaited Karate & Kobudo Seminar was held on the last weekend of August. On Friday the 26th at Turramurra Dojo, participants came to revise bunkai techniques and takedowns as well as learn some new ones. It was a successful night with a lot of the work revolving around the Pinan Katas and other throws, followed by a group dinner.
The next morning started promptly at Annangrove Dojo at 8am. Shihan Lipman, Shihan Cunningham, Sensei Mark and Sensei Paul took turns instructing the beginners in the basics of the Bo staff and Sai. Despite a few “mishandlings” of the Sai, the new students picked up the techniques well. Those already learning Kobudo progressed onto new kata and bunkai, as well as helping the beginners with partner work. Training went for nine hours followed by a barbeque dinner at Shihan Cunningham’s.
The next morning was the same early start. After a couple of hours of revision, younger students from the Kids and Knox classes arrived to learn the basics of the Bo.
By mid-afternoon a Grading was held. The adult beginners went through the Bo and Sai, whereas the Kids and Knox groups just concentrated on the Bo. Ian Holdaway, James Campbell, Jessica Den and Todd Murphy also graded with the Bo, Sai and Eeku, giving a fine demonstration to the newer students of how their Kata should look with a bit more practice!
It was a well-run, highly successful weekend that covered a lot of ground and generated significant interest in Kobudo within KIMAA. Many thanks to the Shihans for the wonderful weekend. This is some footage from the seminar:
Four young KIMAA students attempted a grueling six-hour Black Belt Grading: James Lenton and Ben Ng were promoted to 2nd Dan, and Rebecca Humphries and Alex Lloyd to 1st Dan. Many other senior non-black belts participated in the grading as well. The grading took place on March 26, and the grades were awarded on April 15.
Shihan Rick Cunningham, Sensei Peter Olive and Sensei Idir Bahamid were graded by Shihan Howard Lipman at a demonstration session event on 7 May 2010. Shihan Cunningham received his 6th Dan, while Senseis Peter and Idir received their 4th Dans. The evening was attended by several special guests. Read more about these instructors and their backgrounds in Karate here.
A number of demonstrations were provided by seniors on Kata and Ippon Kumite, videos of which are featured below. Bo, Sai and Eeku were also demonstrated – clips of these are available on the About Kobudo page. The evening concluded with a celebration dinner in Gordon.
On October 30th Shihan Cunningham and I were to make their third pilgrimage to Okinawa this year. This time our group also consisted of Shihan Cunningham’s wife Kirsti, and their young daughter Amelia, along with Allan Engelin 4th Dan, Ian Holdaway 2nd Dan, and Mark McFadden 1st Dan.
We arrived at Kansai airport on Thursday evening 30th October, checked into our hotel and spent the evening checking a huge shopping outlet, a fun park for Amelia, a meal, and to bed.
The next day we left early for Nara….this was the original capital of Japan before Kyoto, before Tokyo, so the amount of history there is truly amazing. There are many old and amazing temples and pagodas, the most impressive of which was Todaiji Temple which is home to Daibutsu, the largest Buddha in all of Japan. Todaiji is the largest wooden building in the world and dates back to 8th century.
It was back to Kansai on the Saturday evening and on the plane to Naha on Sunday morning. On arrival in Naha we checked into our usual hotel, the Nahana, which is now beginning to feel like a second home, contacted Hokama Sensei, and arranged to meet him for dinner with two of his senior students, Taira san and Seki san. We spent a pleasant evening together and started to think seriously about the training which was to follow.
The training consisted of sessions for the whole group every morning, and advanced sessions with Sensei for Rick and myself in the afternoons. As usual it was learn more, constant practice of technique and then, “more speed please!” During these sessions we moved ahead and learnt more Bo Kata, Tonfa techniques and kata, and Eeku technique and kata. There were many discussions with, and explanations by Sensei of kata and technique, and Okinawa Kobudo weapons and their history.
On the next Saturday Sensei took us to Kume Jima island where one of his students lives and has a dojo, Shihan Yoshinnori Taira. Kume Jima is about a 40 minute flight from Okinawa, has a population of 9,500; three sets of traffic lights, and sugar cane everywhere!! Taira Shihan picked us up at the airport and took us to all the points of interest on the island, and also to the local sake factory where we tried some 18 year old sake…now that was an experience!! That evening we all trained at his dojo and Sensei really stepped up the pace. After training we were treated to an incredible meal of beautifully prepared sushi and salad with the odd beer and sake for good measure.
Then it was back to Naha and more training before we departed on November 12.
As with our previous trips we found Hokama Sensei to be most helpful and informative, and we thoroughly enjoyed his instruction and company.
As a result of this trip I was made Sensei’s first Australian branch chief in Kobudo and was graded to Sandan (3rd Dan) in Kobudo. Shihan Cunningham was also graded to 3rd Dan in Kobudo. For us this was a most unexpected end to this trip to Okinawa and one which we considered to be a great honour.
Shihan Cunningham and I will continue to travel to Okinawa to further our knowledge under the instruction of Sensei Hokama and look forward to honing their skills in Kobudo.