All posts tagged: Kobudo

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.

100 Kobudo Kata Challenge 2019

On Saturday the 100 Kobudo Kata Challenge 2019 took place at Sakiyama Park, Shuri, Okinawa. Organized by James Pankiewicz the event was opened by Toshimitsu Arakaki 10th-dan Matsubayashi-ryu Karate. It was great to see so many young people taking part from the Asato Dojo and Okinawa Kenpo Kenyukai Dojo. The recently completely rear gate of Shuri Castle, seen in the background of the group photo, is also looking impressive.

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 …

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 …

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 …

Koichi Nakasone 9th Dan Ryukyu Kingdom Sui-di Bujutsu

Yesterday I made the short drive over to Nakijin Village to the home of Koichi Nakasone, 9th Dan Ryukyu Kingdom Sui-di Bujutsu. He is the 76th sensei to be photographed for the Karate Masters Portrait Project. James Pankiewicz, Becka Tedder, and I sat down for a chat in the traditional wooden house that Nakasone sensei had recently built by himself. He told us a few stories about his karate training, and the three months he spent in the USA traveling from dojo to dojo, challenging the members to fight. (Known in Japanese as dojo yaburi.) After our chat, we set up the black background on the side of the house and took the portraits. (Pentax 645Z with 90mm lens. Profoto B1 with white softlight reflector.) We then drove a couple of minutes to beautiful Nagahama Beach for some more location shots. I switched lenses to the 25mm wide-angle and removed the softlight reflector as we needed as much power as possible to try and fill in shadows. Becka held the light, while James put on his …

100 Kobudo Kata Challenge at the Karate Kaikan, Okinawa

A few pics from today’s 100 Kobudo Kata Challenge at the new Karate Kaikan in Tomigusku, Okinawa. The event was organized by James Pankiewicz of the Dojo Bar in Naha. The welcoming message was given by Toshimitsu Arakaki, 10th dan Matsubayashi-ryu karate. Participants spent 2 to 3 hours performing a hundred kata with various weapons including bo staff and sai. Congratulations to all that took part, it was great to see people actively helping keep Okinawan traditions alive. I also got to take a few new “Beyond the Dojo” pics of Arakaki sensei outside of the new Karate Kaikan building. Arakaki-sensei demonstrates a technique with two sai, while also reminding me that “Iron Fist” isn’t just something from comic books.   Gear: Pentax 645Z with 25mm lens. Profoto B1 with softlight reflector white.

Master Higa and the Minotaur

Last week I was chatting with Mark Thorpe about his upcoming time-lapse workshop.  He mentioned that Sunday 5th of June was a new moon and possibly the best day of the year for photographing the Milky Way. Mark would be heading out to Mount Fuji, but I thought I’d head over to Zakimi Castle in Yomitan. I doodled the castle and stars on a piece of paper. Then continued to doodle adding  a minotaur into the doorway. I actually have two animal masks sitting in my office. One is a hippo and the other a bull. They hippo has been used for a few rather bizarre photo shoots. I realized that to create a minotaur all I’d need is the bull mask and a suitable torso. Luckily my mate Adam has both the right physique and was free on the Sunday night. Still doodling on my piece of paper, the image was lacking a foreground subject and could use a hero. I’d previously photographed 8th-dan karate master Masaharu Higa at Zakimi Castle and knew he …