By Michael Clarke
By Garry Lever
By Barrett & Lever
on ALL Writings &
this Web Site.
By Mark Bishop
|"Karate Advice, Take it or Leave it"
The Shinken Dojo 真 剣 道 場
|Ryusyokai Okinawa Goju Ryu Karate 琉 翔 会 沖 縄 空 手
Ilfracombe - North Devon - England 英 国
Web Sites of Interest
Budo Code of Respect
A warm feeling awaits all Karate Ka as they arrive upon Okinawa. The Birth place of Karate, the mind images of Funakoshi making
his way in the dark of night to train under Azato and Itosu, the stories of sweat dripping Sanchin training sessions under Miyagi, the
footage of Higaonna running the cobbled streets in the 80’s, the list is endless… The path has long been set for all with sincerity to
follow. Yes! To any serious Karate Ka there is a feeling of coming home with the true value in visiting the island being nothing less
than immeasurable. Yes! The genuine Karate Ka will get a natural longing to continually return (or a wish to at least), for
guidance, the bonding with ones Sensei, quality teachings, encouragement, and of course continued motivation. Yes! One can not
fail to be inspired. Yes! For the sincere Karate Ka who is open minded and humble who has a genuine continued desire to learn,
the benefits inherent in visiting Okinawa will be everlasting and endless.
However, if there are thoughts of self importance, inflated ego, already knowing it all or better, or not wishing to train hard, listen,
learn, follow, and take in the valuable advise that the Okinawan people and Sensei freely offer. Well…. All is going to be pretty
pointless, worthless, and useless. With Karate or any art of worth, ones attitude and character is Everything! Once a Karate Ka
loses the beginners mind or rides along on the grading train, they have lost their way in Karate.
Our first training session on Okinawa was to take place at the dojo of my Sensei, as in Shigetoshi Senaha Sensei, at his
Ryusyokan dojo in Tomigusuku. This training session was to be small in numbers, and if I am honest here, just how I prefer things.
Practise was to be taken this evening by the dojo Sempai, as in Hidenobu Tamaki Sensei 9th and of the Okinawa Goju Ryu way,
Senaha Sensei was of course around as always, giving correction and guidance, the same in continually offering advice and
demonstrations on effective execution.
"Karate is about destroying ego, not building it up".
I am not going to detail the training that took place on this evening, as in short, we went through the various Fukyu Kata of Yagi
Sensei, all of the Kata of Miyagi’s Goju Ryu, a few people were asked to get up and demonstrate their Ippon Kumite, others to
demonstrate a Kata chosen by Sensei. There was much correction, much learned, and of course plenty of sweat shed too.
My brief focus here is to be on Tamaki Sensei as for me he is a shining example, not only of what a true and sincere Karate Ka
should be, but also the fundamental basis of how one should go about studying the true way of Okinawa Karate. Yes! He sets the
bar and an example that ALL serious Karate Ka would do well to learn from, emulate and follow.
Tamaki Sensei is from Itoman city, thus resulting in him taking up Karate at an early age under the auspicious eyes of Seiko Higa
Sensei, a student of both Kanryo Higashionna, and later Chojun Miyagi, going on to gain his Shodan at the formers dojo in his
early teens. Some 48 years ago circumstances unbeknown to myself, he became a student of Shigetoshi Senaha Sensei, who he
remains devoted to and loyal to this day.
I could recite a few stories and personal experiences about Tamaki Sensei here, but in truth I would much prefer to keep things just
that, personal and private. In guiding you his words are often these “This is very, very important”, If he sees that you are
genuine and you listen he will explain why too. “So, So, So” is also often heard when doing things to his approval, or a “No”
when not so, usually followed by either a smile, or a stern look followed by an uncompromising showing of the correct way. See the
photo of myself above, a lesson shown, a lesson learned and taken.
"With Karate Ones Attitude and Character is Everything"! Me....
He is a Sensei in his own right and without question, but often around Senaha Sensei he is referred to as Tamaki Sempai, out of
respect for his Sensei. A Karate Ka whom one can never fail to be impressed by, with the footage of some 25 years or so ago that
sees him doing the double jumping kicks in Saifa kata, with the soles of his feet, kicking legs, being parallel to the ceiling, showing
a level of competency and training that is quite astounding to see, and one that few will probably ever equal. With his
effectiveness as a Karate Ka, and may I say fighter, is simply unquestionable too, being on the receiving end of his kata
applications at times is a controlled but painful lesson learnt. Some Karate Ka may talk good, or look for fancy skills, techniques or
tricks, but with Tamaki Sensei you are always left with a feeling of no doubt, and there would be no playing around. His Karate is to
the point and destructively effective.
There is though so much more to the man, and as a true Karate Ka than this…So much more in fact... Often stating that he has
never had a need to form a dojo, “why do I need a dojo? I am a student in my teachers dojo”! When Senaha Sensei is teaching at
the dojo Tamaki as Sempai will regularly head the line, training hard, sweating for the good of the cause and leading all others by
his fine example, setting standards for all others within to follow. When Tamaki Sensei is teaching he will often stop what he is
doing and ask his Sensei for advice and guidance on certain areas, all after 48 years of being a student. Yes! There is still no ego
and a continued desire to learn, pass on the art correctly and train hard.
Yes! By leading by example with no desire to seek fame, Tamaki Sensei as a 9th Dan is quietly and continually giving those who
are willing to take note, watch, listen and learn, a true lesson in what being an authentic Okinawan Karate Ka is all about.
(Saturday 23rd November 2013)
|Myself with Tamaki Sensei.
A much needed drink of
water and sweat wipe down
during a break in training,
After being on the receiving
end of one of his Karate
|"The Experiences of Okinawa 2013"
|Tamaki Sensei offering valuable advice
and guidance on Karate.
Generally I feel that there are three ways that people can approach their Karate training time on Okinawa, or their normal
weekly Karate training time too of course, be it in England, Tim buck two or where ever.
1, As a Karate Ka one can quietly observe, listen, learn, and take in the valuable advice that is given with an open beginners
mind. Whilst then trying to put such teachings in to practise through regular constant training and hard work, yes that which
also requires much effort and sweat. Whilst accepting that Karate is a constant battle to improve.
2, One can believe that their Karate is already at an understanding or level, both technically and physically, at the same as,
near as, or close on high enough levels being taught by the Sensei. That they then spend time coasting along, just doing
enough, and using every spare opportunity in the dojo to go around correcting others. (Do as I say not as the Sensei does is
true in most cases here)
3, Then there's the know it all or best and better attitude. Maybe constantly training hard physically and regular yes, but not
truly wishing or willing to absorb, or take in or on board any of the teachings that are being given by the Sensei or their Dojo
For me it is option 1 every time, I certainly have many faults and much learning to do as far as my own personal Karate goes.
So teaching and training should be clearly separated. What is quite surprising though is how much of number 2 and 3 is
around in Karate and the Karate Ka these days, sad but true I feel, and why I have no idea at all.... But hey, it's each to their
own Karate I suppose…
With Judo I always felt that the talking, training, proofing and testing was always done on the mat and in Randori. I like that, its
true, its honest.
During my most recent trip to Okinawa a quote that summed up real Karate training and the way of the real Karate Ka, was a
most simple one, and it came out of the blue from Onaga Yoshimitsu Sensei of the Shinjinbukan. Upon finishing his teaching of
a training session he called "Yame " of which everyone stopped, a few in attendance then decided to clap out of appreciation.
Onaga Sensei's firm words that followed spoke so much about having a true understanding of the Art, they were these ;
“Stop clap, me not movie star” !!! Very wise words indeed......
(Sunday 1st December 2013)