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 Post subject: Tour of Okinawan Masters
PostPosted: Mon May 10, 1999 7:57 pm 
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Joined: Thu Mar 11, 1999 6:01 am
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Location: Richmond, VA --- Louisville, KY
The following was sent to me today (Monday at around 1 PM) by one of my students (Bruce Hirabayashi) who now lives and teaches in the Atlanta area. It was addressed primarily to me, Bob Kaiser, and George Mattson, but had a host of other Mid-Atlantic folk on the cc list.

-- Bill

P.S. Apparently our forum editor thought one style name was...well...a 4-letter word with an "o" on the end. Thus the edit.

********************************

Dear Bill, Bob and George:

I attended Dan Smith's Tour of Okinawan Masters in Atlanta on Saturday, 8 May 1999. I very much enjoyed the seminar, and I thought I would pass on some of my thoughts since the Washington session is coming up.
IS IT WORTH GOING?

In my view, the answer is "it depends on your objectives". If students are attending because they would like the masters to enlighten them on "techniques underlying techniques" and/or to pass on previously "secret" knowledge, they will likely leave the seminar somewhat disappointed. (Personally, I don't believe such secret knowlege exists ... Karate-do, for me, is largely about hard work, discipline, respect and courtesy. It is a path of self-discovery, and each of us follows a slightly different trail. On the other hand, I probably feel this way because my instructors have always been quite open with information. But I digress .... ). Keep in mind the Okinawan masters are working in front of groups of 100+ students who have very different martial arts backgrounds. For example, in Atlanta, only two of 250+ attendees were active in Uechi/Shohei-ryu Karate-do: the rest were from Okinawan Shorinryu, Isshin-ryu, ****o-ryu, Goju-ryu, Wado-ryu, etc. Given these two factors plus the advanced age of many of the masters, they stuck largely to basics. In two 90-minute Uechi-ryu sessions, Master Tomoyose taught Sanchin basics and Kotekitae. In the Isshin-ryu sessions, Master Uechi (yes .. a Uechi who doesn't do Uechi- or Shohei-ryu) taught warm-up exercises, Kotekitae, and some simple one-step sparring techniques. Because of the numbers of people, there was not too much time for individual attention.
On the other hand, if your primary objectives are to make contacts with fellow traditional Okinawan karate-ka and to seek renewed inspiration, I think you will leave satisified with your experience.
CONTACTS: I knew little about the martial arts "scene" in Atlanta, despite being here almost 3 years. I met Tony Carangi (Caranji?) a Uechi Shodan orginally from Florida who had been living in Atlanta 3 years, not realizing there were other Uechi-ka in the area. Since Master Tomoyose asked me to help him with his sessions and to demonstrate kata, I also met many traditional Okinawan Karate-do practioners from Atlanta who have asked me to come visit their schools and show them more about Uechi-ryu. These contacts are invaluable and were well worth (to me) the price of admission alone.
RENEWED INSPIRATION: To see the hundreds of Dans working so hard (there were but a handful of non-Dans) to learn what they can, and to see masters in their 60's and 70's perform proficiently and effortlessly went a long way towards rekindling workout fires that had waned in me a bit in the last few months. If you or some of your students have seemed lethargic and/or uninspired in the last few months, if something like this does not get them (or you) going again, please seek professional help! Meeting and working with a living link back to Kanbun and Kanei Uechi like Master Tomoyose was also an honor and a privilege. He spent 15 minutes of each session telling stories about Kanbun Uechi and explaining his personal philosophy and approach to Karate-do. The students appeared very much captured by his personality and and sense of humor, and the "buzz" overheard after his sessions was quite positive.
GEORGE: Master Tomoyose asked me to greet you and pass on that he very much hopes to see you sometime during this tour if you have the time. Also at least seven different small groups of karate-ka stopped by after the Uechi-ryu sessions to tell me, George, how much your books and your website has meant to them in their study of martial arts, and they asked me to express their gratitude and appreciation for your efforts.
Take care,


Bruce



[This message has been edited by Bill Glasheen (edited 05-10-99).]


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 Post subject: Tour of Okinawan Masters
PostPosted: Tue May 11, 1999 12:12 am 
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Joined: Thu Sep 17, 1998 6:01 am
Posts: 405
Location: Tewksbury, MA USA
My take (again)?

Gi on = Trouble

Gi off = No trouble

Igor also mentioned last week that as long as you go to Okinawa to train with no other agenda, no trouble. I have experienced the same.

How much of the political turmoil is real and how much is made up?

How much are the Okinawans responsible for and how much are we?

How much have they done to rectify the situation and how much have we?

Has anyone considered an online petition that we could print out and send to the Okinawans to voice our dissatisfaction with the current state of affairs? 3 - 4 thousand names might make someone stand up and take notice.

Maybe we should cc a copy to ourselves?

Respectfully,

Gary

------------------
Gary J. Khoury
http://www.uechi-ryu.com/khoury


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 Post subject: Tour of Okinawan Masters
PostPosted: Tue May 11, 1999 2:39 pm 
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Joined: Thu Mar 11, 1999 6:01 am
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Location: Richmond, VA --- Louisville, KY
If I may say a word or two....

Politics in any activity is nothing new. It has absolutely nothing to do with Okinawa per se. Those of us who spend our lives in the business world (or other non-martial activities) see the same things. As the inimitable Yogi Berra would say, "deja vu all over again." The only reasons why Okinawa vs. the rest of the world is even an issue are 1) Okinawa is in the knowledge (and some would say power) path from Fuzhou to us, and 2) individuals from different cultures are more likely to "misunderstand" (that's an understatement) than individuals from a homogenous group.

Also, nobody has a lock on the well-known understanding of the power of putting a gi on. More than a few have posted on this page declaring (and pleading to others) how important it is to get out and train with others. Additionally, we in the Mid-Atlantic region have experienced tremendous harmony by simply scheduling workouts together. No, we don't all see eye-to-eye, but we sweat together and party together afterwards. The power of that cannot be overstated.

All power in a karate system ultimately rests with individuals who train.

-- Bill


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 Post subject: Tour of Okinawan Masters
PostPosted: Wed May 12, 1999 2:57 am 
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Joined: Tue May 11, 1999 6:01 am
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Location: Frederick County, MD USA
Hi. I'm a bit confused on the sequence and direction of this thread. I sent the original Email to Bill and Bob because the Tour was headed to Washington DC, and they may have had students that were "on the fence" about attending the tour ... I thought an opinion from someone who just attended the Atlanta session could be helpful. I sent it to George because Master Tomoyose asked me to extend his best wishes to George. My Email was not intended in any way to be a political statement. Yet the post seemed to hit a pressure point (so to speak) generating responses discussing politics, referring to the situation on Okinawa, the need for a petition, etc. Hmm ... has it gotten to the point that one should check political pulses and sensitivities prior to sending Enotes to Uechi-ka?


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 Post subject: Tour of Okinawan Masters
PostPosted: Wed May 12, 1999 4:06 am 
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Joined: Thu Sep 17, 1998 6:01 am
Posts: 405
Location: Tewksbury, MA USA
Dear Bruce:

I understand your concern. Respectfully, however, let me advise you that you cannot "pop" onto these Forums and try to decipher the meaning of posts and responses that have their roots in conversations transpiring over the past several weeks or months.

Your post developed into a "political" discussion because 1.) There has been a lot of talk about inter-"Uechi" events and their political impact here and abroad and 2.) Because the Okinawans (in an obvious political affront) "stiffed" the Boston group by refusing to attend an event sponsored by our own GEM.

Now everyone's training together like lovey-dovey. Or are they?

Everyone click to this site's home page. There you will find a letter that I have sent to Uechi instructors everywhere. It's point? Let's cut the BS and train together to bring back the glory days of Uechi-ryu.

I understand your excitement, Bruce. I know it first hand. It is the same rush I feel when I travel to Okinawa, compete in a tournament or catch an Al Wharton seminar at summer camp.

It is the very essence of what I want, and what I suspect a lot of Uechi-ka want but cannot seem to get at this time: A peaceful, harmonious re-unification of old friends, mentors and teachers lost over the meaningless misunderstandings and behind-the-scenes backbiting of a very turbulent decade.

But is that what we're getting with these recent seminars? Is all really OK with this "Rengokai" visit?

Someone intimated on another post that a very prominent "Uechi" (read: Okikukai/Shoheiryu) teacher seemed to have an "agenda". Now what could that be?

Could someone be beating a different drum to lead the children astray? Are mixed messages being sent so that we will look to our teachers as the heretics they really are? Perhaps the "TRUE WAY"tm lies in another style? With another group? In someone else's knowledge or opinion?

NAH! Who would do something like that? Afterall, we're all bound together by our love of UECHI-ryu, right?

Riiiiight. . .

Gary


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