Kazoku Kai Karate-ka visit the home of karate on the island of Okinawa Japan
On Saturday 3rd April members from midlands based Karate association KAZOKU KAI left the UK bound for Okinawa Japan. Along With their chief instructor Sensei Derek Ridgway 7th Dan there were also 8 other karate-ka from the UK and one from Kazokukai Canada. The group from Leicester was led by Sensei Dave Wilkins 6th Dan, and from further afield Sensei Mike Scales 7th Dan from Vancouver in Canada. Most people think that Karate comes from mainland Japan but this is not the case, the origins of Karate can be traced back to as early as the 14th century on the island of Okinawa. It was only later in the early 1920’s that karate spread to mainland Japan and later still all around the world.
The trip was to last for 2 weeks and the training was to be very intensive and technical. After a long and tiring trip we arrived at our hotel an Naha Okinawa and not long after were greeted by our main instructor. His name is Master Isamu Aragaki 70 years old and 10th Dan the highest possible in karate. He was to be our main instructor although we also trained with Master Minora Higa 10th dan and Meitatsu Yagi also 10th dan.
Aragaki Sensei treated us like family giving us excellent instruction and showing great patience and the experience of a lifetime of karate. Most days training was followed by Aragaki sensei taking us for lunch or dinner which he always insisted on paying for. When he was busy he always got on the phone and called up other instructors for us to go and train at there dojo. We trained at some of the finest dojos on Okinawa and consider ourselves very lucky that through our connection with Aragaki sensei we had him to sort the introductions and formalities for us.
Mid way through the second week we were all taken to Sensei Aragaki’s beach house in the north of the island. What a treat to be invited by him to his private hideaway on the beach. Again his hospitality was first class all food drink and accommodation was free and the evening turned into quite a party ending in karaoke until the early hours. As the 2 weeks drew to a close Sensei Aragaki presented each senior instructor which a hand painted and framed scroll to hang in their dojo.
It had been a superb trip and we trained twice a day in humidity and temperatures well above what we are used to. It was all worth it we learned loads and were treated like family by the all the Okinawans both our teachers and their students. We will never forget our trip to Okinawa all the instructors welcomed us and made us feel at home. Our Association now has a permanent invite to visit and train in Okinawa a privilege given to very few especially in the UK and beyond. We hope to visit again in the not to distant future.
After saying our goodbyes and thanking all instructors for their time and hospitality we headed back to mainland Japan on the 18th of April to complete chaos at Osaka airport. As is now history the Icelantic volcano had blown and we were stranded in Osaka for 5 days. Nothing could however dampen our spirits and we landed back in the UK on Thursday 22nd April. We were tired and weary of the journey. But one thing was for sure we would visit again the Island of Okinawa the true and traditional home of karate.
MESSAGE FROM SENSEI DEREK RIDGWAY 7TH DAN CHIEF INSTRUCTOR OF KAZOKU KAI INTERNATIONAL WORLDWIDE
I would on behalf of all the students who attended give our sincere thanks to our Okinawan instructors who gave us excellent instruction in their own private dojo’s.
Thank you to Master Meitatsu Yagi 10th dan Goju Ryu who taught us Goju-ryu techniques and Sanchin kata.
A very big thank you to Master Minora Higa 10th Dan Shorin Ryu he was a big inspiration to us we really enjoyed training in his dojo’s, his students were so friendly and he himself was just amazing.
Our biggest thank you goes to our main instructor master Isamu Aragaki 10th Dan Shorin Ryu. He taught us in his own private dojo and really opened our eyes to what Okinawan Karate really is. He taught us 7 old style kata from his system and worked hard on instilling the principles of Okinawan karate into us westerners. Over and above all else he showed us true Okinawan hospitality and treated us so well we felt like family (Kazoku means family) We all really enjoyed our stay with him and we thank him from our hearts.