Sensei Documentary

Sensei: Masters of Okinawan Karate  

Documentary Series

Sensei: Masters of Okinawan Karate is a documentary series about the amazing martial arts teachers living on Okinawa, the birthplace of karate. It is completely free to watch on YouTube, anywhere in the world! Series One has more than 1,000,000 views and a fan community of 30,000+ on Facebook. 


  1. Document the stories of Okinawan karate masters and their philosophy on life and their martial arts practice.
  2. Record in the highest quality possible. Ideally 4K or 8K, RAW, multi camera, multi audio
  3. Store the original data as an archival record. 
  4. Transcribe and translate the recordings to spread knowledge of Okinawan martial arts, history and culture. 
  5. Make the videos available for free online via YouTube and so that anyone, anywhere can see them.

The documentary series grew out of the Karate Masters Portrait Project which began in 2012. The portrait project allowed amazing access to the sensei, but it was only Chris Willson and James Pankiewicz who got to hear their stories. The documentary series is a way for us to share that unique knowledge with the international karate community. 

Interview #2 with Senaga Sensei

SERIES ONE – Okinawan Masters

Name                Style                  Length              Views

  1. Toshimitsu Arakaki – Matsubayashi Ryu                                                               8 mins               80,000
  2. Yoshitsune Senaga – Uechi Ryu                                                                           15 mins             472,000
  3. Koichi Nakasone – Ryukyu Kingdom Sui-di Bujutsu                                              26 mins             315,000
  4. Takeshi Tamaki – Shorin Ryu Karate Do International                                            9 mins               105,000
  5. Kiyomasa Maeda – Okinawa Shogen-Ryu Karate-Do                                              15 mins             67,000
  6.  Kenyu Chinen – World Oshukai Okinawa Shorin-Ryu Karate Do                            59 mins             146,000
  7. Tsuguo Sakumoto – Ryuei-ryu Karate                                                                   38 mins             54,000
  8. Seikichi Iha – Beikoku Shidokan Karatedo Association                                           34 mins             50,000
  9. Tetsuhiro Hokama – Goju-ryu, Hokama Kobudo                                                    27 mins             85,000
  10. Takehiro Gaja – Uechi-ryu Karate                                                                         30 mins             32,000
  11. Toshihiro Oshiro – Shima-Ha Shorin-Ryu karate, Yamanni Chinen Ryu kobujutsu.     39 mins             20,000 
  12. Zenshu Toyama – Goju-ryu Karate                                                                       33 mins             13,000  

Special Bonus episode  – Nakasone & Iha conversation at Dojo Bar.                               50 mins             3,000

International Masters

  1. Arcenio Advincula – Isshinryu Karate Ryukonkai Kobudo                                46 mins             58,000
  2. Cezar Borkowski – Okinawan Karate Ryukyu Kobudo                                     25  mins            14,000
  3. Neil Stolsmark – Shorin-ryu Karate, Matayoshi Kobudo                                   19 mins             14,000
  4. Doug Perry – Shorin-ryu Kensankai Karate & Kobudo                                     31 mins             35,000

SERIES TWO (Planning to release in 2022)

Students of Seikichi Iha 10th-dan Okinawa Shorin-ryu Karate, Beikoku Shidokan Karatedo Association gather at Shuri Castle, Naha City Okinawa 26/8/2019 (just months before it was destroyed by fire.)


  1. The amount of time it takes to transcribe, translate, edit and subtitle each episode. It takes several weeks of work per episode. For Series One this was all done by volunteers.
  2. The cost of gear to record the videos. 
  3. The cost of computers and hard drives required to store the data during and after the interview. Approximately 1TB per interview, which is the copied to back up drives, and copied again during editing.
  4. Not including time, transportation etc., the total expenditure for consumables on Series One was  ¥2,827,515   


The international karate community generously supported the first series.

Main Series Sponsors – SERIES ONE

Fusei Kise, Isao Kise and the OSMKKF-USA  

Jerry Figgiani – Shorin Ryu Karate Do International

Beikoku Shidokan Karatedo Association

Grant Campbell – USA Karate Federation

Cezar Borkowski – Northern Karate Schools

NOVA Okinawan Karate Dojo

Waterpoints Dojo – Okinawa Arts Research Studies World Scene

Series Sponsors – SERIES ONE

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

Okinawa Karate Podcast

Fred Mansfield Jr. – Beikoku Shidokan / RBKD

Series Supporters– SERIES ONE

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, Adam Carter, Mike Powers, Miguel Da Luz, Robert Roberto Curtis, Josh Ryer, Belgi Serin, Igor Vakos, Lisken Dus, Andrew Pearce, Christopher Ford, Cos Vona, Steve Ouslis, Sandro Simonetta, Axel Heinrich, Jiří Matouš, Jose Planas, Andy Morris, Steve Armes, Olaf Steinbrecher, Hannele Zubeck, Maija Zubeck, Scott Alter, Rob Chartier, Laura Chartier, Xu Ya Hui, Vlamir Silva, Marian Reiter, Cassie Pham-Korman, John Schrock, Åke Mora Temnerud, Ari Nuutinen, Hubert Laenen, Mario Michiels, Chris Michiels, Lynn Miyahira, Roy Paul, Andy Sloane, Justin Sheehy, Manfred Streuber

Toshihiro Oshiro, 9th dan Shima-Ha Shorin-Ryu karate, 8th dan Yamanni Chinen Ryu kobujutsu. Photographed on Chura Sun Beach near his dojo in Itoman, Okinawa.

Viewer Feedback on Series 1


Fantastic positive feedback from many people via Facebook, email and positive comments on YouTube.

Many requests to continue series. 


Some thought the Arakaki Sensei video at 8 minutes in length was too short. Experienced karateka have often heard the answers to generic questions before. Preference for longer interviews for the opportunity to go much deeper than previous interviews. Ideally let the master talk for as long as they are comfortable. 

YouTube stats show that many viewers are often watching the entire video even longer videos. 


Very positive feedback on translations. 

Feedback from overseas sensei that interviews have revealed things that the language divide had kept hidden. Usually from Japanese to English, but especially whenever an older master used the Okinawan language.

Request by viewers not to miss out any translations even if the content was repeated or unclear. Viewers didn’t like it if even a sentence was untranslated as they thought they might be missing something. 


Positive feedback on sections that included B-roll outside of the dojo. 

Positive feedback on sections discussing life beyond karate e.g. WWII experiences of Hokama Sensei, 88 year celebration of Iha Sensei

Positive feedback on teaching aspects in the video such as with Nakasone Sensei and Chinen Sensei.

Masters Interviewed

Positive feedback on all the masters interviewed. 

Viewers happy to listen to masters of other styles of karate. 

Requests for specific masters for future episodes.

Positive feedback on addition of bonus episodes with international masters of Okinawan karate, especially US veterans. 


Positive feedback on the quality of filming.

Comparisons to professional TV documentaries.

Positive feedback on 4K content for people watching on their TV.


Positive feedback on the use of Okinawan music through the video. (Chris hired a local musician to play the sanshin music and sign a release so that Chris has the rights to use the music in videos)


Some asked if there was a way to give an amount between 50 dollars (supporter) and 500 dollars (sponsor).

Some asked if sponsor logo could be at the start of the episode. 

Takehiro Gaja, Hanshi 9th-dan, Uechi-ryu Karate and Kyoshi 7th-dan Matayoshi KobudoPhotographed January 2nd, 2020 我謝 孟弘 範九段  上地流空手教士七段 又吉古武道


Six episodes with Okinawan masters Approximately 20 – 40 minutes in length. 

Released in 2022 every 2 months on YouTube and

2-3 additional episodes with international masters of Okinawan karate.

TOTAL BUDGET ¥3,000,000 – ¥5,000,000  (based on length of videos) includes consumables and payment to creators

If we raise more than 5,000,000 yen, for each additional 500,000 yen raised we’d add an extra episode to the series up to 12 episodes. 


During Season 1, everyone worked as volunteers, but it is not sustainable in the long-term.  Along with covering the cost of the consumable supplies, those working on the project, need to be paid. The karate masters interviewed should receive an honorarium for their time. 

Season 2, therefore, will have to be supported once again by the international karate community and other organizations. 

Approximate time required per episode with an Okinawan master. Based on 45 minutes of raw interview footage. B-roll filmed on the same day.  Edited video approximately 30 minutes.   Approximate expenses working with our team. (If we hired externally, it would be significantly more expensive)


Timings based on Japanese being spoken by the masters. Use of the Okinawan language required much more time.

Pre-production                        8 hours                    ¥30,000

Gear Preparation            8 hours             ¥30,000

Shooting (and travel)    24   (8 hours  x 3 people)   ¥90,000

Data ingest, organization, archiving    4 hours     ¥15,000

Transcription       6 hours             ¥22,500

Translation              12 hours          ¥45,000

Subtitling             12 hours             ¥45,000

Editing                       24 hours               ¥90,000  

Final Checks                   8 hours           ¥30,000


We will need two professional 24TB hard drives before filming begins, and additional video equipment.

We want to bring production quality as high as possible.

Approximate total budget required per 30-minute episode 500,000 yen



Main Sponsor  $10,000                    

Organization name and logo /graphic full page at the start and end of the each video.  

YouTube only allows static title cards and end cards where there’s a paid promotion. These title cards and end cards can include graphics and the sponsor or marketer’s logo and product branding. Must be co-branded with the creator’s name/logo so first full-page logo will be Ryukyu Media Productions.  Title cards 2 seconds. End cards 3 seconds.


Sponsor  $1,000            

Dojo / Organization name and logo at end of each video


Key Supporter  $500             

Dojo / Organization name at end of each video


Supporter  $100                                    

Individual’s name at the end of each video

To become a supporter or key supporter click on the following PayPal link to securely make you donation. 

In the description box please include your name as you’d like it to read in the credits.

Norihiko Masuda Okinawa Goju-ryu Karatedo Kyokai Kyoshi 7th dan JKF Goju kai Technical committee member. Photographed July 25th 2021 for Karate Masters Portrait Project in Onoyama Park, Naha City, Okinawa.


  1. You see value in our goal to document and archive Okinawa karate and kobudo culture.
  • You are aware that if we don’t receive financial support Series Two can’t happen.
  • You understand that the knowledge held by many of the karate masters is important, and wish for it to be archived before they pass.
  • You realize that we are racing against the clock to record memories, and the Okinawan language. The oldest masters have unique memories of WWII, post-war Okinawa, and talk using a mixture of Japanese and the Okinawan language. 
  • The Karate Masters Portrait Project and now the video series are seen by hundreds of thousands of people. If you want to reach out to the international martial arts community, you can do it through sponsorship of our series. 
  • You enjoyed Series One and want to help make more.

To become a supporter or key supporter click on the following PayPal link to securely make you donation. 

In the description box please include your name as you’d like it to read in the credits.

To become a Sponsor or a Main Sponsor then please first contact us, and we will give you information on how to send us your logo.