Last Monday I had the opportunity to take some pics of Chinen Sensei in his organization’s Yomitan Dojo which is located inside Murasaki Mura. A beautiful location to get a few new portraits of an Okinawan master. Images shot with the Pentax 645Z and the 55mm lens. A Profoto B1 strobe with a OCF softbox was used for off camera flash to balance the interior of the dojo with the outdoors. Video shot with the Sony FS5, Atomos Shogun and Rokinon cine lenses.
I’d been hoping to photograph Meitatsu Yagi for the project for several years. In March 2014 I took portraits of his younger brother Meitetsu Yagi, and his nephew Ippei Yagi, but hadn’t been able to coordinate a time with Meitatsu Yagi. Luckily at the Tookachi seminars for Iha sensei’s students I had the opportunity to photograph Yagi sensei and some of the other masters of Okinawa karate. Amazingly Meitatsu Yagi was one of the first karate masters I ever photographed. I shot him with my Pentax 67 film camera in around 2004. I was visiting Murasaki Mura and asked the man in the white uniform with a black belt if I could take his photo. At that time I didn’t know his name, or that 15 years later, I’d still be on Okinawa, and spending most of my time photographing and interviewing karate masters.
Seikichi Iha and hundreds of his Beikoku Shidokan Karatedo Association students from across the world came to Okinawa to celebrate his “Tokachi” 88th birthday celebrations. I was lucky to get to spend some time with the group as they visited Shuri Castle, an evening banquet, training at the Karate Kaikan, and an interview and training at the dojo of the late Miyahira sensei. The interview and footage from his trip will form episode seven of the Sensei: Masters of Okinawa Series. A huge thank you to the members of the Beikoku Shidokan Karatedo Association for inviting me into your celebrations, and also for becoming one of the main sponsors of the Sensei: Masters of Okinawan Karate series.
On August 20th 2019, I had the pleasure to meet, photograph and interview Sensei Arcenio J. Advincula a master of Isshinryu karate. He was a fascinating person to interview because of his role in bringing this style of Okinawa karate to North America, and also developing martial arts in the United States Marine Corps. It will be a few weeks until the interview is posted to You Tube, but here are a selection of portraits documenting another thread in the fabric of Okinawan karate. Thank you to Advincula sensei and his students for traveling up to Motobu. It was a pleasure to have you in my studio.
Things have been so hectic the last month I forgot to post about the release of Sensei: Masters of Okinawan Karate #5 with Kiyomasa Maeda. A fascinating interview which shows the real love and respect these masters have for their own teachers, and the humility with which they approach their art.
I did a double take the other day when checking out the reading materials at the local university. Spotted what looked like one of my photos on the cover of a National Geographic / Cengage Learning textbook about Mount Fuji. Checked inside, and yes it was my photo, purchased through a stock agency back in 2008. Always nice to have my images on the cover of a book or magazine. Would have been even better if it had been the National Geographic magazine, but it gives me something to aim for in the future. This image was shot back in the days of film with a Pentax 67 medium format camera. I’d travel around Japan with this wonderful beast of a camera, which is how this website got its name TRAVEL67.com This photo was quite fittingly captured using Fuji film 🙂
The fourth episode in the crowd-funded YouTube documentary series Sensei: Masters of Okinawan Karate is now online! Please share, like, comment, and subscribe as these factors all influence the YouTube algorithm to get it shown to more people. This is a real team effort. Thank you to those who helped make the episode including Gary Hughes, James East, and Yuki Willson. A huge thank you to Jerry Figgiani and Sadahiro Makino for setting up the interview, and of course to Takeshi Tamaki agreeing to be interviewed and sharing his thoughts. I made the decision that I didn’t want this video series monetized by YouTube advertising so a huge thank you to the people and organizations who have donated to help keep this project going. Tomorrow I’ll start work on the edits for the next video which will hopefully be ready at the end of June. Main Sponsors Fusei Kise, Isao Kise and the OSMKKF-USA Jerry Figgiani – Shorin Ryu Karate Do International Series Sponsors Cezar Borkowski – Northern Karate Schools Marguerite “Peggy” Hess …
Now that the first three episodes of Sensei: Masters of Okinawan Karate have been published to YouTube I can happily say that the feedback I’m getting has been really positive, and its popularity on YouTube is growing with each video! The first video had 5000 views in its first month, the second video had 62,000 views in its first month, and the third video has had 86,000 views in its first two weeks! I’m in the final stages of the edit of the fourth video with Sensei Takeshi Tamaki, and hope it will be released on May 22nd. This endeavour is possible because of sponsorship and support by the international karate community. If you see the value of undertaking this project, please consider become a main series sponsor, series sponsor, or supporter. More details here. Sponsors and supporters are listed in all subsequent episodes of the series. If you’d like to help, and get in touch before May 21st, I can add you to the credits for Episode 4 before the final file creation and …
Lilies are flowering in Okinawa at the moment. The 24th Iejima Lily Festival took place from April 20 to May 6, but there are still plenty of lilies in bloom around where we live in Motobu. I went out with the camera to shoot some still images, and get some b-roll video for future projects.
Hisao Hamamoto is a master of Japanese swords. At 83 he continues to teach how to use katana and wakizashi. I first photographed Hamamoto sensei on October 1st 2011, before the Karate Masters Portrait Project began. The single-light beauty dish portrait I took of Hamamoto would become the lighting setup I’d then use for the entire series. I met up with Hamamoto sensei today at the Budokan in Naha City, to get some video of him teaching his class. Afterwards I asked to take a few location portraits at the shrine next to the Budokan. We then grabbed some lunch before heading over the Dojo Bar with James Pankiewicz to film a short interview with Hamamoto sensei. It won’t be part of the Sensei: Masters of Okinawan Karate series, but a bonus interview about his life and art. A real delight to meet him once again. Thank you to Hamamoto sensei for giving up his time, to James for helping set up the shoot and letting us conduct the interview in the Dojo Bar, and …