Island karateka team travel to train in Japan

Rui Tremoceiro, Ray Dubras and Dan Houseago of UUֱ Shotokan Karate had the opportunity to train at the birthplace of the sport

JERSEY Shotokan Karate enjoyed the unique experience of training at the origin of their sport, Japan.

It’s not everyday that local martial artists have the opportunity to train where it all started.

That’s exactly what happened for two instructors, Ray Dubras and Rui Tremoceiro, and student Dan Houseago, from the UUֱ Shotokan Karate (JSK) club.

Together with 21 other karateka, of the Hombu Dojo Karate International (HDKI), of which JSK is a member, the team spent two weeks in Japan on an epic karate adventure, learning more about the culture and key principles of martial arts in the home of modern karate and the birthplace of the most widely practised style of karate worldwide: Shotokan.

This HDKI-arranged adventure was truly an international event, bringing together karateka (people who practise karate) from India, USA, Canada, Norway, Sweden, UK and, of course, UUֱ.

The first four days in Tokyo saw the team visit three dojos, taking in the experience from two Shotokan karate clubs and a Wado Kai school of karate.

They visited Waseda University to join in with students in evening karate practice, led by Nishino sensei.

There was also a learning opportunity for a different karate style, Wado Kai.

The team joined the students for practice, led by senior instructor Okumachi Shihan, which enabled them to gain an appreciation of the differences and similarities between the varying styles.

The HDKI team were also invited to join in with a karate session at the Honda dojo (Kawasaki), a privately owned dojo located in the senior instructor’s garden.

The session was run by Honda Shihan himself, an 84-year-old master whose balance and fluidity of motion was outstanding.

Honda sensei is the epitome of karate as a lifelong pursuit.

But the group’s endeavours were not limited to karate.

The HDKI team also partook in a Kendo experience, one of the oldest and most popular martial arts in Japan.

Kendo as an art form originated when guns were introduced to the samurai in the 17th century, making swordsmanship obsolete on the battlefield.

However, the samurai felt maintaining sword training helped develop the essential spirit of battle skills, thus created this unique training method using a bamboo sword called a shinai.

Finally, they had the unique chance of training with the Shorinji Kempo practitioners in the Shorinji Temple at Tadotsu.

Shorinji Kempo (Chinese Temple Boxing) is a martial art deriving from kung-fu, developed in Japan in the 1940s.

Its training style is very close to modern karate, but with emphasis placed on fluid movement and more grappling through wrist and arm locks, leading to throwing techniques.

Being a Buddhist temple, there was also time for meditation and reflection within the art, which build character through the tough training of mind and body as one.

UUֱ Shotokan Karate extended their gratitude to HDKI for enabling their karateka to visit and train in Japan, as well as UUֱ Sport for providing funding under the Volunteer Workforce Grant.

For those interested in taking up, learning, or wishing to return to karate training, JSK can be found on Facebook, while sessions at the Dojo at Strive Heath Club take place Mondays and Wednesdays between 7pm and 8pm or on Sundays between 10am and noon.

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