Asato Dojo celebrates first anniversary and remembers the highlights of 2018

The Asato Dojo opened its doors on January 7th 2018 for the first time and a year on we look back at what a wonderful year its been. We have been blessed with the support and friendship of so many here in Okinawa and overseas in the karate community. Its hard to express how grateful we are for your enthusiasm to support our new dojo.

We opened the Asato Dojo to be both a traditional karate and kobudo dojo (for Matsubayashiryu karate practice under the guidance of Arakaki Toshimitsu Hanshi) and to also offer complimentary practices to facilitate learning, fitness and health such as other fighting arts, yoga, etc. The dojo also offers a great location for visiting instructors to hold seminars and we have been very lucky to feature a number of exceptional teachers here during 2018. More on those below. In particular we are very fortunate to have a close relationship with Yoshida Naotsugu Sifu of Long Fist Praying Mantis style kung fu who designated the Asato Dojo his branch dojo in Okinawa in 2018. Yoshida Sifu is Okinawan but spent his adult life in Taiwan specifically to learn Praying Mantis. He visits Okinawa often and teaches at Asato Dojo. Praying Mantis and Shorin-ryu karate share common roots in northern style Chinese fighting arts.

And also with Hubert Laenen sensei, founder of Koryu Karate Jutsu Jissen Ryu and student of Motobu Ryu Bujutsu Moide under Shiroma Seihan sensei and Yagi Isao sensei. Hubert sensei has also very kindly invited Asato Dojo as a member of his organisation which actively researches the links between traditional fighting arts in Okinawa such as karate and Motobu Udundi and those in China and other Asian countries.

Seminars and visits to the Asato Dojo in 2018

Here is a summary of events at the Asato Dojo in the last 12 months. We have had so many guests and visitors it is hard to list everyone so please forgive the many omissions. Rest assured, you have not been forgotten!

January – Opening Day included kata demonstrations by Arakaki Toshimitsu Hanshi and Arakaki Dojo members, Yoshida Sifu, Laenen Sensei, Higa Manabu sensei and Josh Simmers sensei of Okinawa Kempo. In attendance were over 100 people including Hokama Tetsuhiro Sensei, Higa Masaharu sensei, Matsuda Hiromasa Hanshi, Gaja Takehiro Hanshi, Yagi Isao Hanshi, Akamine Hiroshi Hanshi and many other Okinawan practitioners and friends. In the following week Laenen sensei taught a series of special classes at the dojo.

February – JAL/JTA portal added Asato Dojo to its Okinawa Experiences portal offering inbound passengers on JAL/JTA an option to take a karate class at our dojo.

March – Both James Pankiewicz (Asato Dojo kancho) and Becka Tedder (Assistant Instructor) competed in the local qualifier for the 1st Okinawan Karate International Tournament.

April – 100 Kobudo Kata Challenge was undertaken by seniors and juniors at Sogenjidori Park, near the dojo. 100 repetitions of Shiromatsu-no-kun kata (bo kata) successfully completed by all.

May – Wing Chun and Eskrima classes started with Alessandro Febbo sensei. James Kancho and Becka Sensei completed the Taiwan Beast Race mountain trail run.

June – Adult and junior dojo members performed a karate and kobudo demonstration at the Peace Park in Itoman as part of the the Irei-no-Hi annual events. Yoshida Sifu taught a Praying Mantis seminar at Asato Dojo. James Kancho and Becka Sensei completed in the Ryukyukan Karate Tournament, full contact kumite.

July – Asato Dojo Fitness Club team competes in the Night Run relay race at Onoyamakoen (2 teams). Jesse Enkamp Sensei taught a seminar on Naihanchi Flow Drills at Asato Dojo.

August – 1st Okinawan Karate International Tournament held in Naha. Asato Dojo hosted several international participants for training in preparation for the tournament including Jesse Enkamp of KarateByJesse.com . Following the tournament James and Becka took several international groups on karate history tours and beach BBQ & training days.

October – Greg Linquist Tasshi of Ryu-Te taught a series of special classes at Asato Dojo showing the techniques of his late teacher Oyata Seiyu. Peter Polander, also of Ryu-te, also brought a group of students to visit the dojo and taught a guest class. We are extremely grateful to both instructors and their senior students for sharing an insight on Oyata sensei’s fighting art. Aikido classes begin at the dojo under Sylvian Darocourt Shihan. Chris Denwood Sensei taught an excellent seminar on Naihanchi kata at the dojo and introduced his new book Naihanchi Volume 2. His students attended both karate and kobudo classes at the dojo. On October 25th the Asato Dojo led an international group of 60 participants in the 100 Kata for Karate Day Challenge event at Naminoue Shrine Park and Beach. All participants completed the challenge. On the following weekend Asato Dojo seniors and juniors joined 3000+ local karateka on Kokusaidori for a karate kata demonstration event to mark Karate Day in Okinawa. James Kancho and Becka sensei completed the Ultra Maokong mountain trail race in Taipei.

November – Arakaki Kyoshi sensei of Musokai Karate taught a seminar on Naihanchi kata at Asato Dojo. Yagi Isao Hanshi of Motobu Ryu Bujutsu Moide taught a series of seminars on Motobu-ryu technique. Hubert Laenen Kyoshi also taught a number of classes on Koryu Karate Jissen ryu applications and principles. John Burke sensei, visited from the UK with his students, taught a seminar on various bunkai methods. His group also went to Toyosaki Beach to train with Toguchi Mineo Sensei, former Okinawan kumite champion and resident kumite teacher at Asato Dojo. Patrick McCarthy Hanshi of the IRKRS visited Asato Dojo and taught a seminar to an international group arranged by James Kancho at Senegajima Park. McCarthy Hanshi very kindly gifted a hand written copy of Matsumura Sokon’s Precepts on the Seven Virtues of Bu. This unique gift is mounted on the Asato Dojo wall.

December – Asato Dojo holds the first karate testing day for junior students. All those taking the test pass and progress from 10th kyu (lowest) to 5th kyu (highest). Well done to all our juniors who have progressed so well in only a matter of months. Ulf Karlsson Sensei taught a series of seminars on Kishimoto-di karate at Asato Dojo. We are extremely grateful to Karlsson Sensei for his generous teaching of a rare Okinawan fighting art school. KNX18, the international karate seminar series, came to Okinawa and Asato Dojo was very proud to be the local partner alongside JAL for this hugely popular event, created by Jesse Enkamp. KNX18 featured a prestigious line up of Okinawan instructors (Uechi Kanji sensei, Kuba Yoshio Sensei, Nakasone Koiichi sensei, Yoshida Naotsugu Sifu). Participants also took part in additional training and seminar opportunities at Asato Dojo before and after KNX. This includes a seminar on Isshinryu Karate taught by Andy Sloane Sensei, Praying Mantis king fu by Yoshida Sifu and “Toshi-Koshi-Keiko” (end of year/new year training) with James Kancho.

Article author: James Pankiewicz, founder of the Asato Dojo and The DOJO Bar in Okinawa

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