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An Interview with Derek English

Posted by The Invisible Sensei Podcast on Sunday, April 19, 2020

I originally published this post on Derek English sensei five years ago which included an interview conducted by Mike Clark sensei (thank you wherever you are), but I am republishing it to include a wonderful new interview with him on the Invisible Sensei Podcast.

Derek English is a true power-house of Okinawa Budo – proficient in both Goju-ryu Karate-do and Ryukyu Kobudo. I first met Derek in Japan way back in 1995 at a conference we were both attending in Kumamoto prefecture, but it wasn’t until a few years later that I finally caught up with him on Okinawa and was able to train very briefly with him and his teacher Uehara Ko at the latter’s dojo in Naha.

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The Other Karate-do Nyumon

I hope everyone is keeping safe and well during these difficult times. It must not be easy on everyone and my thoughts are with you. Having more time that I normally do since teaching has completely stopped and most normal activities are out of the question, I have turned my attention to this blog and other projects that have been put on hold. One of those is the other ‘Karate-do Nyumon’.

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“Advanced” Bo Kata

Kobudo, Vancouver, BC, Mario McKenna, Advanced Bo Kata

Yoshimura Hiroshi Sensei

Thank you to everyone who emailed me about trying to share my posts on Facebook, but were unable to. It seems that my website and/or posts don’t meet Facebook “community standards”. LOL. I have no idea what this means or how to fix it, but I’m not terribly concerned.

Since the lock-down as a result of Covid-19 I have had more time for self-training. This past week I was  able to practice some Kobudo kata that I had been neglecting; in particular Soeishi no kon and Chatanyara no kon. After practice I began to think of a few years ago when I was visited by Fred Lohse and Russ Smith who put on a great empty-hand and Matayoshi Kobudo seminar in Vancouver. Afterwards  we talked about “advanced” bo kata taught near the end of the Taira curriculum: Urasoe, Chinenshikiyanaka, Chatanyara, Sesoko, and Soeishi. These are  very long and complicated kata that are typically taught only at the higher dan grades and after a long apprenticeship under a competent teacher. Read more →

Nepai

Touon-ryu
Kanzaki sensei demonstrating a posture from Neipai kata.

Nepai was once an obscure kata in the Karate world but over the decades it has become common-place. I find the increase in the number of Nepai Karate kata that you can view on the internet baffling but the main reason I think this was is because Nepai was retained by very few Okinawa Karate styles. The only two that I am aware of were Mabuni Kenwa’s Shito-ryu and Kyoda Juhatsu’s Tou’on-ryu. As the story goes both men learned it from Go Kenki during their involvement in the Karate Study Group. Go Kenki, as we all know, was the Chinese tea merchant and supposed crane boxer who immigrated to Okinawa at the turn of the 20th century. Perhaps other students involved with the Karate Study Group may have been familiar with it, but as far as I know they never passed it down.

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Kanzaki Shigekazu

Kanzaki Shigekazu

I always liked this photo of Kanzaki sensei. He looks smart in his hat that he got for his 82nd birthday from Kazeoka san.

April 22 would have marked Kanzaki sensei’s 92nd birthday. Happy birthday Kanzaki sensei. I wish he were here. 

On Karate Dance (1927)

Hikimori (引きこもり) is a Japanese word usually reserved for young adults who lock themselves away for months or years at a time to avoid the stress of social contact. Although not self-imposed, I’m sure all of us are feeling the stress of being cooped up at home and anxiety about the future. It is certainly a hard time for everyone, and I consider myself fortunate that I am healthy and secure unlike others during this pandemic.

As I mentioned in my previous posts, since I have extra time I have temporarily restarted this blog to add a bit of light reading on Okinawa Karate-do and Kobudo. This week’s post is a translation of a short article entitled “On Karate Dance” that was originally published in “An Ethnography of Amami Oshima” in 1927. It does not reveal any great insights about the history of Karate, but certainly provides a bit of flavour regarding the then fledgling art. Particularly the author equates Karate as a kind of Ryukyu Dance and differentiates from it’s predecessor art of Karate-jutsu. It’s an interesting perspective and one that modern authors still debate (for example, read part 3 of the article “A Thousand Years of Traditional Okinawa Karate”.

Enjoy. Read more →

Kamiya Jinsei (1894 – 1964)

Like everyone around the world I am experiencing the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. Although regular practice has ground to a halt, I consider myself fortunate that I am healthy and continue to work and train from home. Since I have been given this gift of time I decided to temporarily restart my blog to provide some light reading to the Okinawa Karate-do and Kobudo Community. I have one request and that is if you would like to share the article you are welcome to do so. However, please share the link and not cut and paste the articles in their entirty. The first entry below is about Goju-ryu and Kobudo expert Kamiya Jinsei. The next article will be about his grandson Kamiya Masashi. Enjoy. Read more →

Kamiya Masashi

Here is the second article about Kamiya Masashi, Kamiya Jinsei’s grandson. I think his story is inspirational. Enjoy.

Following his Magnificent Grandfather’s two Paths: Medicine and Martial art. Kamiya Masashi, Director of Kamiya Clinic for Mother and Child.

Kamiya Masashi

One of the best students of the founder of Goju-ryu, Chojun Miyagi (1888-1953), was Kamiya Jinsei (1894-1964). Just like the man who also made a name for himself in paediatrics, obstetrics and gynaecology in Itoman, his grandson, Kamiya Masashi (58) is also a karateka who works as an obstetrician and gynaecologist at the “Kamiya Clinic for Mother and Child“. Read more →