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Sensei – Masters of Okinawan Karate #1 Arakaki Toshimitsu

This video is the first in a possible series of interviews with Okinawan karate masters. The sensei discuss their lives and share advice on training.

The first master is Toshimitsu Arakaki, Hanshi 10th-dan, Matsubayashi-ryu Karate (Shorin-ryu). 新垣 敏光 範士十段 松林流空手 (小林流)He is the teacher of my good friend James Pankiewicz who arranged for the interview to take place. (James runs the famous Dojo Bar in Naha City, and the Asato Dojo across the street. Check them out when in Okinawa!)

This pilot video is an opportunity to see if there is much interest in making this a series of videos rather than just a one off. Potentially interviews could take place with several karate masters and include more footage of them training or their everyday lives.

Will all the videos be on YouTube?

Yes! The idea is for the videos to be available for free on YouTube to anyone who wants to watch. Hopefully individuals, dojos, or karate organizations would be willing to help sponsor the project to make it viable, but this would only be possible if I can show that there is definite interest in making the videos.

How can you help?

Give the video a thumbs upcomment, and subscribe to the channel. Share the video with others who are interested in Okinawan karate.

If you, your dojo, or your organization is interested in helping sponsor the series, I’d love to hear from you. 

What I want to do better.

We shot this video in 4K with one camera. It works, but it would be better to use at least 2 cameras to cut between shots. Outdoor footage likewise would be better with two cameras, and with the option for slow motion. The potential importance of these interviews means that I’d like to shoot these in the highest quality possible. Sound quality could also be improved using a dedicated person on audio.

 Please enjoy the video, and I hope the karate community around the world find Arakaki’s interview fascinating. 

Yoshitsune Senaga 10th dan Uechi Ryu Karate Do Kenseikai

On November 30th, I had the honor to photograph and shoot some video of Yoshitsune Senaga, 10th dan Uechi ryu karate at his dojo in Tomigusku, Okinawa. He is the 82nd sensei to be photographed for the Karate Masters Portrait Project.

81 year old Senaga sensei also studies kobudo, and was willing to show us his techniques with the sai.   Interestingly he showed how the pair of sai that he used would ring like tuning forks when hit.  He explained that this was because these sai were made from metal that was once used in a temple bell in Nara.

After taking portraits for the project, I recorded a quick interview with Senaga sensei, then finally we got some selfies of the group, and little Jasmine once again stole the show. 

The video, the second in the series we are working on, will be translated and hopefully appear online in the coming weeks.  This is an exciting new addition to the project, and we are currently thinking about how we can take this video series further. 

Amphiprion ocellaris

Why do scientists use the Latin names when describing a species?

To avoid confusion between languages, and within the same language, about exactly what species you are describing. 

The fish in the photo above is Amphiprion ocellaris.  

For identification I could go to my favorite identification book for fish in Okinawa: Reef Fish Identification – Tropical Pacific

In this book Amphiprion ocellaris is called the False clown anemonefish.

If we check on Wikipedia for Amphiprion ocellaris we find a wide range of common names.

“The ocellaris clownfish, also known as the false percula clownfish or common clownfish, is a marine fish belonging to the family Pomacentridae, which includes clownfishes and damselfishes. ” Wikipedia

However, my preferred source for fish names is Fishbase which gives the common name as clown anemonefish.  

Then again, for millions of children around the world,  Amphiprion ocellaris is simply known as Nemo. 


Last month our team recorded the TEDxOIST lectures, and they are currently in the process of being released on the TEDx YouTube channel.  The first 3 have just come online so if you didn’t manage to see the event you can watch them here.  There are 10 lectures in total, so I’ll announce on the blog when the other videos are available. 

A huge thanks to my team of Gary, Jon and Patrick for operating the other cameras. It was great working together filming the event, and also to be part of an even larger team who were organizing TEDxOIST.

100 Kata for Karate Day 2018

100 Kata for Karate Day 2018 took place on October 25th beside the Naminoue Shrine in Naha City, Okinawa. Matsuda sensei and Arakaki sensei were the masters that welcomed the attendees to the event.

100 Kata for Karate Day October 25th 2018 at Naminoue Shrine  and beach.

The event was organized by my good friend James Pankiewicz of the Dojo Bar and Asato Dojo.

100 Kata for Karate Day October 25th 2018 at Naminoue Shrine  and beach.

Great to see so many people taking part at the Okinawa event, and also across the world. The 100 Kata for Karate Day has become a rigorous annual challenge for many karateka.

100 Kata for Karate Day October 25th 2018 at Naminoue Shrine  and beach.

Arakaki sensei and Matsuda sensei, are both in fine health at 75 and 80 years old.  Matsuda sensei told me he’d just been to the Namie Amuro farewell concert as he’d been her karate teacher many years ago.   (For those who are unaware, Namie Amuro is Japan’s Beyonce.)

100 Kata for Karate Day October 25th 2018 at Naminoue Shrine  and beach.

Congratulations again to all those who took part.

100 Kata for Karate Day October 25th 2018 at Naminoue Shrine  and beach.

World’s Largest Tug of War 2018

The world’s largest tug-of-war took place today in Naha City, Okinawa.  Two ropes weighing 20 tonnes were tied together to make the record-breaking 40-tonne behemoth. Around 270,000 people came to the city to watch or take part in the event.

After karate demonstrations by several masters including Koyu Higa and Ippei Yagi (who are featured in the karate masters portrait project), the kings of East and West were carried along the length of the ropes. There were a lot of gongs, firecrackers, and whistles, then the contest began.


Congratulations to the East for their victory. A great day, with a friendly international atmosphere. Thank you to the American Chamber of Commerce for having me as part of your team. Video coming soon.

Green and Pleasant Land

A month back in the UK reconnecting with family and taking some pics. I am now a tourist in my homeland.  We spent most of our time in Manchester, but managed to have a few days in the Lake District, a week in North Wales, and a weekend with my sister’s family in Chester.

Sheep Dog Trials, Cumbria, United Kingdom

Sheep Dog Trials, Cumbria, United Kingdom

Manchester had changed dramatically over the last 20 years. The city center is much smarter, and skyscrapers now grace the skyline. A trip to Quarry Bank Mill was a reminder of how Manchester made its money from cotton (quite a bleak story in many ways).  We walked past Old Trafford football stadium while on the way to The Imperial War Museum North. Maybe, one day I’ll get tickets and watch Manchester United play.


Horse trials at the Hawkshead Agricultural Show.

The highlights for Yuki were the various National Trust gardens. She has returned to Okinawa with dreams of orchards, and flowering borders. Jasmine meanwhile spent the month learning to sit up, plank, crawl, and stand up while holding onto things. Life continues to be full of surprises.


Llandudno Pier


Steam train at LLanberis


Statue of Sir Matt Busby and a group statue to the players Best, Law, and Charlton at Old Trafford the stadium of Manchester United.


T-55 Tank outside Imperial War Museum North, Salford Quays, Manchester

Royal Exchange Theatre inside the Royal Exchange, Manchester, England

Royal Exchange Theatre inside the Royal Exchange, Manchester

Cotton Looms at Quarry Bank Mill, Styal, Cheshire, England

Cotton Looms at Quarry Bank Mill, Styal, Cheshire

Gardens of Quarry Bank Mill, Styal, Cheshire, England

Yuki and Jasmine in the gardens of Quarry Bank Mill