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