All posts filed under: Karate Masters Portrait Project

Success and Sponsorship

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 …

Isao Kise 10th dan Matsumura Orthodox Shorin-Ryu Karate & Kobudo

On Saturday we also photographed portraits of Fusei Kise’s son Isao Kise. He is now the main teacher at the dojo in Okinawa City. It is always interesting to photograph multiple generations of karateka. All images shot with the Pentax 645Z. Black background images used a Profoto B1 monolight with a softlight reflector and the 90mm lens. The shots with the dojo in the background were taken with natural light and with a 55mm lens.

Fusei Kise 10th Dan Matsumura Orthodox Shorin-Ryu Karate & Kobudo

Yesterday we visited the dojo of Fusei Kise and his son Isao Kise in Okinawa City. 10th dan in Matsumura Orthodox Shorin-Ryu Karate, Fusei Kise studied under  Hohan Soken. Located in Okinawa City not far from the Goya Intersection, Fusei Kise has taught several generations of American service members who have taken their knowledge back to the States. Fusei Kise will be 84 years old next month, so although he still trains the majority of teaching is done by his son Isao Kise who has also reached the rank of 10th dan in Matsumura Orthodox Shorin-Ryu Karate and Kobudo.

Kenichi Yamashiro 9th dan Matayoshi Kobudo

On Friday evening we travelled down to the very south of the main island of Okinawa to the dojo of Kenichi Yamashiro. He is the 83rd sensei to be photographed for the project, and it was fascinating to meet him. Kobudo is the weapons system of Okinawan martial arts and is often studied alongside karate. Arguably kobudo is an intrinsic part of traditional karate, or perhaps traditional karate is an intrinsic part of kobudo. Yamashiro sensei trains with a wide range of weapons, including some which I’d never seen before such as the spinning bo staff. Hopefully in the future we’ll be back again to interview him for the Sensei: Masters of Okinawan Karate documentary series. All images captured using the Pentax 645Z and 90mm lens. Lighting using the Profoto B1 and softlight reflector. A big thank you to Gary Hughes for assisting with lighting, Yuki Willson and James East for interpreting, and Mike Clayton for help setting up the shoot. A huge thank you to Kenichi Yamashiro for inviting us into his dojo and …

Yoshitsune Senga Video Preview

Currently editing the second video in the documentary series Sensei: Masters of Okinawan Karate. It is a fascinating interview with 10th dan Uechi-ryu master Yoshitsune Senaga. Hopefully we’ll have it online by Monday February 18th. Here’s a draft of the first couple of minutes to see what we’re working on. This is just an iPhone video of the screen, which should stop any confusion that this is the finished product. And here’s the ending sequence so far. If you are interested in helping making this video series possible, please get in touch with me by email or facebook. In this second video we will be able to list sponsors and supporters who have reached out to us before Sunday February 17th. Hopefully we’ll keep adding more sponsors and supporters over time, and these names will be added to the list at the end of future episodes in the series. As of February 13th, 2019 our sponsors and supporters are: Series Sponsors Ceazar Borkowski – Northern Karate Schools Marguerite “Peggy” Hess Reece Cummings – Cummings Karate …

Karate Masters Documentary – Let’s make it happen!

It’s been three weeks since I posted the pilot for Sensei – Masters of Okinawan Karate on YouTube. The goal was to see if viewers were interested in the concept, and for me to get some feedback. This would enable me to make a decision about what to do next. If you’ve not watched already, please take 8 minutes 25 seconds out of your day, and check it out. In three weeks the video has had about 3500 views. More importantly, comments in various Facebook groups, and direct messages to me have been very positive. It seems that many in the karate community would like to see more interviews, and that the videos, similar to the photographs in the Karate Masters Portrait Project, would be valued by others. Today is January 1st 2019. It’s a time for new beginnings. A time to dream big, and aim for the stars. After talking with my wife Yuki, I’ve made the decision to go ahead with this new project. My goal is to create a series of 10 …

2018 Highlights

The biggest event of 2018 was on February 12th when Jasmine Victoria Willson was born. Over the last 10 months she’s grown to be a delightful little toddler who is excited by all her adventures. Life now revolves around bananas, Igglepiggle, and bath time. I’ve been shooting a wide range of imagery, along with producing some videos for SKYLUM software. The Karate Masters Portrait Project continued, and expanded to start a new video documentary series about the amazing martial arts sensei on Okinawa. 2019 will begin with some exciting news about the series. At the start of the year I was out photographing the humpback whales while creating a video for SKYLUM, then at the end of the year I was recording the TEDxOIST lecture series with a team of videographers. One of the speakers was my good friend Nozomi Kobayashi who talked about her job monitoring the migrating whales. In the spring I updated the Okinawa and Kyushu chapters for the next edition of Fodor’s Japan. Jasmine had her first trip down to Miyako …

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 …

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 …