Yasuhiro Uema, 9th dan Shorin-ryu Karate. The 78th sensei to be photographed for the Karate Masters Portrait Project. Shot before his dojo’s seminar at the Karate Kaikan in Okinawa on July 27th 2018. Thanks to Kenny Ueda of Ageshio Japan who organized the seminar and help set up the portrait session with Uema sensei. Born in 1945, Uema sensei is another example of karate keeping Okinawans flexible and strong even as they age.
Yesterday I had the opportunity to photograph karate master Naonobu Ahagon at his dojo in Naha City. It was a great experience to meet another Okinawan icon. In October 2013 he was one of 7 karate masters to be given special recognition by the Ryukyu Shimpo newspaper for his contributions to traditional Okinawan karate. Ahagon-sensei is a master of both karate and kobudo (using traditional weapons). These include the kama (sickles) and sai. I took a few extra shots of Ahagon-sensei surrounded by some of this weapons inside the dojo. Starting from the far left you can see the eku (oars) then nunchaku, a pair of tonfa, and bo staffs. A big thank you to Sensei Mark Spear of the Black Bear Traditional Martial Arts Center in Connecticut for helping set up the shoot.
After photographing Seiei Nakaza sensei, I took a few shots of his senior student, Brian Hobson. It might seem strange to call a 7th dan black belt a student, but even those who have studied karate for decades often visit Okinawa to learn from the masters of the art.
Hiroshi Akamine a master in both Shorinryu Karate (no weapons) and Ryukyu Kobudo (a whole range of weapons). Lovely man based out of a new dojo in Tomigusku. On the wall of Akamine’s dojo there was an old black and white image of Akamine’s teacher posing for a photograph with a bo (staff). It isn’t part of the portrait series, but James and I thought it would be nice for Akamine to have a shot of him in the exact same pose many years later. The sepia tone was added in Photoshop to match the original image.