Tetsuhiro Hokama
And the Karate/Kobudo Museum
Karate and kobudo museum is also a great place to be as a fanatic karateka.
by Patrick Baas
Last week I came back from my three week during family trip to Japan and Okinawa, together with my wife and son. First we arrived in Tokyo from wich we visited several places like the Sengakuji-temple (47 ronin), Kamakura, Tokyo Disney and.
After that we left for Naha in Okinawa. From the moment that I flew above the island I felt so good! A few minutes later I was going to land on 'the mother(is)land of Karate!' what a rush!
Especialy after reading all these dozens of books about its history and the many many historical tales of the grandmasters like Funakoshi, Motobu, Miyagi, Azato, Itosu and... Sokon Matsumura!
We directly set course to the dojo of Hanshi Tetsuhiro Hokama and had a nice meeting with this wonderfull grandmaster. We noticed at once that Hokama was a very kind and sincere personality. He overloaded my little boy with all sorts of Okinawan candy and we discussed the possibilities for training. I told Hokama sensei that I had received the 6th dan degree as an honor-promotion by the International Budo Federation (IBF) and that I would like to do a physical dan-test after all. I wanted to know if I was truely worth of it. The first training was at night. My wife and kid (he's just two years old) stayed at the hotel and I joined his grouptraining wich was quiet heavy (and sometimes very painfull) but realy great! The next whole day I had private classes with sensei. In the end he promoted me to 6th dan and... (according to Hokama sensei) the 23th 'Shihan' title that was ever officialy given to a foreign karateka. Of course I was very proud of this. Hokama sensei is a man you're gonna miss after you return to your homeland. It's the kind of person you wish to be living in your own neighborhood to train with on a regular base. But... I quess this distance is what makes it even more important and special.
After our classes we also visited 'Shurijo-castle' wich was queit important to the historical developments of karate. Speaking about importance... the Hokama Karate and kobudo museum is also a great place to be as a fanatic karateka. Out here you can see and touch 'the real stuff!' One thing is for sure, even though our trip wasn't exacly cheap... it won't be our last visit to Okinawa!

Kind regards,
Patrick Baas,
The Netherlands.
Oss, The Netherlands. June 2th 2010.

One word...Incredible!
by Andree Kielholtz

Ever since I started training in karate, almost 30 years ago, it was my dream to go to Okinawa, the birthplace of karate, one day.  In April 2009 this dream came true and I had the chance to visit Hokama Hanshi in Nishihara, Okinawa. During this stay I was living in his Dojo and training under him on a daily base. Although I stayed for little more than 2 weeks I had the opportunity to learn so many things form Hokama Sensei. 

If I would have to put my training with him into one word it would be INCREDIBLE!

Hokama Sensei has a vast knowledge not just in the obvious techniques of Karate and Kobudo, but is also a world renown expert on teaching the application (Bunkai) for every move. Besides that his knowledge on the history and culture of Okinawa and it´s fighting heritage is unique and much sought after by leading experts from all over the world.
A visit to his Karate & Kobudo museum is a must for every serious practitioner of the arts.

Andree Kielholtz, Germany


Standing In A Fast River Of Information
by Martin O'Malley

Having trained with Hokama Hanshi I can tell you his knowledge of the human body and how it works is encyclopaedic, and only matched by his knowledge of the history and development of Martial Arts on Okinawa. Training under him is like standing in a fast flowing river of information, but despite his knowledge and status, he remained modest in his dealings with us as visiting students.

Martin O’Malley
Cloonduane, Belcarra, Castlebar,
Co. Mayo, Ireland


A Master Of The Universal Principles

By Glenn Kerr

After meeting and training under Hokama Sensei I am looking forward to the next time I am lucky enough to meet him again. He is a Master of the universal principles within the kata and how they are practically applied.

I was so impressed as he is so open and friendly and speaks very good English.

He stands for much of what seems lost of the old methods of Karate!

I look forward to Okinawa 2011! 

Glenn Kerr,

Rosegrove, Burnley,

Lancashire, United Kingdom


Okinawa - Experiences With Hokama Hanshi
by Gary Lever

It is very hard to describe that feeling you get when you arrive in Okinawa. Contrary to the misguided impressions that I’d had as a teenager where I pictured Okinawa as the sleepy island that time forgot as seen in the Karate Kid part II; Naha is a vibrant, colourful, exciting and incredibly busy city. As you are whisked along the street by taxi with the neon lights displaying a combination of kanji, hiragana and katakana; you realise immediately how far away you are from your comfortable and familiar surroundings. It is around this time that a combination of excitement, and panic begins to manifest itself in your thoughts. The taxi driver dropped me outside the dojo of Hokama Sensei and wished me luck. It was about 6:30pm and I could see through the windows of the dojo that a children’s class was in progress. I slid open the door to the dojo and saw Hokama Sensei who immediately came over and greeted me like an old friend. The class was paused momentarily and every one of the children in attendance came over to shake my hand and say hello. Following this I was sat down at a low table on the floor of the dojo where sensei began to make tea. I would become very familiar, and even quite fond of this table over the next two weeks, for it was here that we spent so much time, and where sensei opened his heart most often to his thoughts and opinions on karate do. Over tea we spoke of my plans regarding my trip, my training history, and my life in general. Sensei thought that it would be more beneficial to my trip if I stayed at the dojo, and arrangements were made for me to stay starting the following day. At this point I was not aware of just how much of an important decision this was to be. Hokama Sensei was concerned that I would be too tired after my flight to train, however, I assured him that my time on Okinawa was limited and that I wanted to make the most of every opportunity to learn from him. With a slight grin on his face that suggested I was about to be tested, sensei asked me to get changed. As I emerged from the changing rooms I saw that members of the seniors class had begun to arrive and were warming up. Like boxers sharing the same dressing room before a fight there was a strange mix of courtesy, curiosity, and weariness shared between those present toward their new English visitor. As the class began we lined up in seiza and I was called to the front to introduce myself. I tried my best to do this in Japanese, and managed to raise a few laughs by my mispronunciation of some words completely changing the meaning of my statements to something quite comical. For example when I announced my job, I mistakenly told everybody that I was a homeless ticket collector! Still it helped to lighten the mood, and following this we headed straight into the warm up. The warm up at Hokama Sensei’s dojo lasts for about forty minutes and consists of a mixture of light stretching, strength training, and body conditioning. Everyone was eager to see how the foreign visitor would fare, and so I gave my all in an attempt to keep up and represent my teacher well. I was pleased to see that my level of fitness and conditioning was of an acceptable level and that I made it through without incident. Following this we practiced sanchin kata with our partners performing shime to check our performance. Again this was another test of spirit, and the intensity was gradually stepped up to see the level that I was at. Hokama Sensei was particularly attentive to my performance of sanchin, and this led to a lengthy discussion between sensei and his senior students. A couple of suggestions were made about how I could perform better, and then the process was repeated again. After sanchin training we practiced various escapes from different kinds of holds. It was here that I first became acquainted with Hokama Sensei’s vast knowledge of how best to cause a whole world of pain in an opponent! I was poked, prodded, squeezed, hit, punched and gouged for what seemed an eternity, and everybody was keen to try their technique upon a new opponent. Although extremely painful for me, I began to feel a bit more confident about the prospect of training at this dojo. You could almost feel the heat from the practitioners brains as they thought through their application and searched for ways to make it more effective, as well as ways to deal with the endless variations that can occur from a single technique. The training was conducted in a serious atmosphere, but occasionally this intensity would be relieved by the ridiculousness of my situation. Everybody, including me, had a really good time beating me up. It’s strange how the action of causing intense pain to one another can build rapports that transcend the need for verbal conversation. By the end of the training session I had endeared myself to my fellow practitioners and began to build friendships that would grow over the next couple of weeks.

We would like to thank Gary for his thoughts and imput on his experiences with Hokama Hanshi.
This is part 2 of a seven part article called "Okinawa - Searching for the truth" To read the whole series please visit http://shinsokai.wordpress.com/2009/01/11/searching-for-the-truth-part-one/ and then to find out more on how you can make the Okinawan Adventure part of your life.

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