In this sixth episode in the series, karate and kobudo master Kenyu Chinen talks about his life in Okinawa and France, his own sensei, and his philosophy on martial arts. We are also invited into one of his seminars, and even his Okinawan home to see how he teaches and trains. Sensei: Masters of Okinawan Karate is a crowd-funded YouTube documentary series about the legendary martial arts teachers of Okinawa, Japan. A huge thanks to Chinen Sensei and his students, plus all the volunteers, sponsors and supporters of the series. Couldn’t have done this without you.
Born in 1927 Kiichi Nakamoto 10th-dan Goju-ryu Karate / 10th-dan Ryukyu Dento Kobujutsu is one of the elder statesmen even among the karate masters. At a young age Nakamoto Sensei studied karate under Chojun Miyagi Sensei then later under Eiichi Miyazato Sensei. Nakamoto Sensei studied kobudo under Shosei Kina Sensei, then Shinei Kyan Sensei. He now hold the rank of 10th-dan. Hopefully in the future I will be able to interview Nakamoto Sensei and receive more information about his life in martial arts.
It is clear from the numbers of views and viral sharing that thousands of people (maybe hundreds of thousands ) around the world really value the images and interviews from the Karate Masters Portrait Project and the Sensei: Masters of Okinawan Karate Video Series. The video series in particular takes up a massive amount of time, gear, and data storage. Shooting long interviews in 4K, Pro Res & Pro Res Raw, and multiple cameras uses a lot of data. After publishing the data to YouTube I could go back and delete the original files, but in a couple of years or a couple of decades, maybe the karate community will want to see the entire unedited footage, or want to a different edit or grade of the footage. So I need to get more hard drives like the one below now my current 24TB drive and 20TB back up are full. At the same time I keep wanting to improve the production values with more professional gear to improve audio, lighting or camera movements. Here’s …
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.
Thought I’d post a few pics from the Tookachi 88th birthday celebration for Seikichi Iha. These are actually low res video stills but they’re enough to give an idea of what happens. Traditional Ryukyu dancers wearing hanagasa hats open proceedings. Iha Sensei pouring sake for honored guests and greeting those who come to give their best wishes. (His son sits to his left, his daughter to his right.) Masahiko Tokashiki sensei chatting with Iha Sensei. Miguel da Luz catching up with Iha sensei. So many members of the Beikoku Shido-kan Karate-do Association in attendance, along with numerous Okinawan karate masters. Thank you for having me to your party! Congratulations Iha Sensei.
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.
Early Sunday morning I had the opportunity to photograph the musicians and dancers of a Gamelan Indonesian dance group. I shot portraits using natural light and a wide aperture against green vegetation. I also used the felt black background and a single strobe setup from the karate masters series to create a second set of images. Here’s a quick behind the scenes shot showing the black Lastolite background leaning against our car, and a Profoto B1 strobe with OCF beauty dish on the stand. Portraits were shot using the Pentax 645Z with the 90mm and 55m lenses. A huge thank you to the Gamelan dancers and musicians, and to Michael Lyon for setting up the shoot. Looking forward to seeing your performances in the future.
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.
Thank you for having me as your photographer at the USO Okinawa 48th Annual Service Salute. The Service Salute celebrates those individuals who work as volunteers in their community from both the American and Japanese services. Congratulations to all those who received awards. Attendees can now download images from the event from Dropbox at the link below. https://tinyurl.com/y4rghkxl This service is provided by the USO Okinawa. Attendees can share the images and make prints of their favorite photos for free.
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 …