Sunday, December 23, 2007

Thinking of Okinawa: Group Shot

Traveling to Okinawa to do karate was a lifelong dream for me. I had talked about going for years, but the opportunity never really presented itself. When it finally did happen that I got to go, the trip exceeded all my expectations! The Okinawan people were some of the nicest people I've ever met. Training with Shinzato Sensei and his students was an experience I will never forget. Traveling there with a large group was probably very taxing on Sensei, but he never showed anything but excitement for us being there to train and learn karate.

I'm sitting here three years later, thinking of Okinawa, and hoping I'll be there again soon!

Thinking of Okinawa: Sai


This is near the end of the trip and we spent the session working with Sensei on Bo and Sai. It was sad to see our trip coming to an end, but I was full of new ideas to take back and work on.

Thinking of Okinawa: In the Dojo


Thinking of Okinawa: Soba


After a day of shopping, we all stopped by a little place on Kokusai Dori and had some Orion and Okinawa Soba. A good end to a good day!

Thinking of Okinawa: Shureido


One of the highlights of the trip, outside of all the wonderful karate training, was the day we went to Shuri Castle and shopping in Naha. We walked to Shureido where I ended up buying a new Gi, a pair of Sai and some other miscellaneous items.

Thinking of Okinawa: In the Dojo


We worked out pretty much every day we were there. Sometimes twice a day.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Thinking of Okinawa: Phone Home


One of the more important aspects of our day was the short journey to Hotu Spar and the pay phone to call home an let everyone know how the trip was going.

It took me a couple days to figure out how to get my phone card to work for international calls. I used my Visa card to make the first call home. A couple days later I tried to use my card in one of the stores and found out that Visa fraud protection had turned it off because they saw someone using it in Japan.

A couple more calls and my card was back on in time for my trip to Shureido!

Thinking of Okinawa: First Workout

Originally uploaded by The Mad Dance Dad.

This was on the first day of training. Everyone was attentive as Sensei discussed the finer points of karate.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Thinking of Okinawa: Tonkatsu


Yum! Need I say more?

Read about Tonkatsu...

Thinking of Okinawa: Shisa

Originally uploaded by The Mad Dance Dad.

Everywhere you look there are Shisa...Okinawan Lion dogs that are placed in people's yards, on their roofs, in front of their doors, on their fences, etc, to keep away bad spirits and bring good luck. I brought a set of small fired clay ones back with me. If I would have had room and money, I'm sure I would have loaded up with them. As it was, I found some small ones in this particular store on Kokusai Dori in Naha and brought them back for friends and family.

Thinking of Okinawa: KFC


KFC was one of our regular eating stops. I was amazed at how clean the place was, how much better the food was than the KFC's where I live, how superb the service was, and not to be forgotten, how well they took care of the statue of Colonel Sanders. Usually, the Colonel was posted just outside the door, but on this particular day it was drizzling rain, so he was kept just inside the entrance. One day, as we walked to Sensei's Dojo, I remember watching one of the employees shine the statue of the Colonel with a cloth and I thought how amazing that was...

Less is More

I live in the fast paced world of today just like most of you who are reading this. I have bought in to instant gratification, the latest new technology, and I have been easily swayed by fads. And, like many people, I am realizing as I age and gain some wisdom that, the more of these things I strive for, the less satisfaction I have.

This is why my favorite mantra is "Less is More." If I think it or say it to myself at just the right time it can be wonderful!

I'm out to lunch with folks from work. I want to eat the double patty, three-cheese, angus burger, super fries and hand-dipped neopolitan shake. Then I notice the grilled chicken salad and I say to myself "less is more" and I make the right choice.

I'm at Best Buy and that gift card I got for Christmas is burning a hole right through my Levi's. I see the new Bose sound dock speakers and think, wow, my ipod will sound great with these. Then I see the price...significantly more than my gift card is worth. So I think, "Less is more", and I put the card back in my wallet for another day.

I'm at the Dojo practicing kata. I have 18 or more empty hand kata and a number of weapons kata to practice. I have enough time to go through them all once--maybe twice. But, instead I choose to practice just Naihanchi with intension and intensity.

Try it yourself! Less is More!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Shurijo - Thinking of Okinawa


3 Years ago I was preparing for my trip to Okinawa. I must have packed, unpacked and repacked my suitcase 100 times.

It was an amazing experience to go to Okinawa and train. This picture is of myself and Sensei Paris Janos standing in front of Shuri Castle.

It's been 3 years and I wish I was preparing once again to go to Okinawa.