Today we finally returned to the Omagari Budokan in Daisen Akita Japan!
Training at the facility has evaded us for a few years now since the structure had been under a major remodel prior to the Covid shutdown. Our last international training at the site was in 2017 so this was a relative treat. The facility is legendary to the Daisen region for ….. Karate of course! Contrary to western beliefs, not everyone in Japan trains Karate however in Omagari and the city of Daisen, everyone at least has had a family member train Karate. This is how popular our Seiwakai Gojuryu Karatedo is in the region of Akita.
As previously mentioned in an earlier post, the Budokan is being used for PCR testing as it sits on prime municipal property. Just next door is the municipal gymnasium, which is the size of two American football fields or 10 full size basketball courts. The floor is wood, however sealed to preserve and extend the life of the surface. This is great for basketball however terrible for Budo as the sealant is notorious for ripping the skin from bare feet; where-as the floor of the Budokan is ferrous and breathes.
Shihan Vassie Naidoo has four students with him that will participate in the Seiwakai grading. Two will attempt their Jr Sandan (they are both 16 years old), another adult will attempt his Nidan and finally another will attempt his Shodan. I wish them well as I’ve observed them over the past several days and can honestly say they have put in the work and have made a great effort while maintaining a strong spirit.
Another Gaijin from America will also take the test today. Mr. Mark Cramer Shihan from great state of Ohio (goziamashita… Our ongoing joke) will attempt his Seiwakai 7th dan! This is a very senior grade and coming in at the same age as Shuseki Shihan Fujiwara (72) he not only has the experience but also the pedigree and is well worth the reward.
Update: Ladies and gentlemen, we have a new 7th dan in the USA. Pictured above are the USA attendees at our Omagari Gasshuku. William Robertson on the left graded for his Seiwakai 2nd dan. Mark Cramer on the right graded and accomplished his Seiwakai 7th dan. Additionally, two junior members from the Dojo of Vassie Naidoo (Los Angeles near UCLA) graded for their Jr 3rd dan and finally Mrs. Shiho Azuma Williams from the Seiwakai Silicon Valley dojo earned her brown belt 3rd kyu.
This, our final day of training for the 50th anniversary of Seiwakai Gojuryu Karatedo. The event is both monumental and under-celebrated as attendance is limited and difficult for our international friends be present. With the reopening of Japan, many of our Japan based members are working hard to bring the community back to us productivity standards. Also, Nakaizumi Shihan is hosting the JKF Gojukai Taikai (convention) and Shiai (competition) in Yokohama. Therefore, he and his group are obviously occupied. Furthermore, with the rest of our worldwide contingency still reeling from the Covid crises and Ukrainian conflict, both travel and flights are restricted.
Tonight, we celebrate the productivity of those attending this milestone in the history of our organization. Tomorrow we are on the road to Tokyo and Yokohama to prepare for competition, training and, I too, grading with the JKF Gojukai.