Tsuguo Sakumoto, 7 times consecutive world champion, and coach to 9 world champions including Arata Kinjo, Takuya Uemura and Ryo Kiyuna. He is 9th-dan in Ryuei-ryu karate. Ryo Kiyuna is one of Japan’s best chances to win a gold medal at the Tokyo 2020 (2021) Olympics so Sakumoto Sensei is more than ever a very busy man. Luckily he liked the portraits of him I shot in 2014 so we managed to get to interview him last September for the Sensei: Masters of Okinawan Karate Series. You can learn more about the series, and even how to support is here: https://travel67.com/the-karate-masters-portrait-project/sensei-documentary/
In 2019, photography and video has been completely dominated by Okinawan martial arts. The crowd-funded YouTube video series is proving to be popular, and we’ve released the first six of twelve interviews with Okinawan masters, and three bonus episodes with international masters. On occassions I’ve been able to photograph some of Okinawa’s less combative side, with smiles and flowers. The real highlight of the year has been watching this little one grow. Now nearly 2, she’s has adopted all the traits of our chocolate labrador (a bundle of crazed energy who loves to play in the dirt, scavenge for snacks, and then curl up in front of the TV). A huge thank you to all those who’ve helped this year. Thank you to the students who’ve taken my workshops, clients who’ve hired me for projects, the international karate community for supporting and sponsoring the video series, and to my family both in Okinawa and around the world during this challenging year. Looking forward to 2020, should be an exciting year. All the best from Okinawa, …
A new episode in the Sensei: Masters of Okinawan Karate series is now online! Cezar Borkowski sensei talks about Okinawan karate, Ryukyu kobudo, and his life studying the martial arts. Cezar Borkowski has been influential in promoting Okinawan martial arts in North America, acting as a vital bridge between the island’s sensei and Canadian dojos. A huge thank you to all the sponsors and supporters of the video series. Main Sponsors: Fusei Kise, Isao Kise and the OSMKKF-USA Jerry Figgiani – Shorin Ryu Karate Do International Beikoku Shidokan Karatedo Association Grant Campbell – USA Karate Federation Series Sponsors: Cezar Borkowski – Northern Karate Schools Marguerite “Peggy” Hess – Jensen Beach Uechi Ryu Karate Do Dojo Reece Cummings – Cummings Karate Dojo Michael Quinn – Okinawa Shogen-Ryu Karate-Do Europe Martin Pinto – Essex Goju Ryu Karate Mark Spear – Black Bear Dojo Series Supporters: Tim Herlihy Robin Ross Joshua Simmers Jeff Perkins Paul Punshon John J. Strangeway Gerry Campbell Shelley Cormier K V Manoharan Phil Butler Danny Smith Justin Rathert …
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 …