Organized by the Okinawa General Bureau, the “Okinawa Kansei – Bunka Sangyo Symposium” (Okinawa Sense – Culture related Industry Symposium) was held March 23, 2011 14:00 to 17:00.
The Okinawa governor Mr. Nakaima Hirokazu (son of Goju ryu master Genkai Nakaima and head of the Okinawa Dento Karatedo Shinkokai) and some 250 people came to the venue, the National Theater Okinawa. Among them, the elite of the Okinawan karate and representatives from local universities and the OPG
After lectures from Mr. Moritake Tomikawa, president of the Okinawa International University, and Mr. Ozaki, CEO of Yoshimoto Kogyo, a panel discussion on karate was held. Panelists were as follow:
- Kiyuna Choyu, secretary of the Okinawa Dento Karatedo Shinkokai (Shorin ryu - Sukunai Hayashi- Risshikan Hanshi 10th dan)
- Uechi Tetsu, head of the Okinawa Traditional Karate-do Kobudo International Studying Center
in Yomitan (Uechi ryu 6th dan)
- Hirata Taichi (Artist and opera/theater director; will become the head of the new OPG Culture and Sport Department April 1st)
- Miguel Da Luz (Editor of Okinawa Karate News
- Ms. Sakiyama Ritsuko, as coordinator
During the discussion, it was stressed on that this scheme of "how could karate support more Okinawa's economy" has never been and will never be about making local Okinawan karate a business. This was never in the mind of the Okinawa General Bureau and it was once again made clear to the public.
The idea is that today, many non-Okinawan karate people are more and more looking for true traditional karate rather than sport karate. Facing this situation, Okinawa - as the birthplace of karate - definitely needs to furthermore promote itself and strengthen its actual international network composed of many traditional martial artists.
But for this to happen, Okinawan masters needs to protect and polish the cultural treasure that is karate. By karate I mean the martial arts that were created on island with their tradition and philosophy. This is actually one if not the main purpose of this concept.
Karate has already been supporting the Okinawan economy with the visit of many foreign karatekas through many years, tournaments and seminars. Now there is a need of really organizing the local environment so that more people could come and experience and/or rediscover Okinawan Karate and Kobudo. By this I mean not only building a karate hall (a request and desire from many local masters) but also creating an official front office for Okinawan karate and kobudo (physically and virtually through the Internet).
I had the chance to speak with some of the leaders of Okinawan karate after the symposium and all expressed the same views. “Today was a good start as Japan (through the Okinawa General Bureau) has in a way recognized the cultural value and potential of karate.” Now, like I said during the panel discussion, it is time to stop babbling about the past, but learning from it it is time to act fast and efficiently.
I can not tell you – as I am not yet aware of something that I can not yet see - what the future will be, but I believe that one should “strike the iron while it is hot”.
If you have any comments, I will be happy to here them anytime and pass them on to the related parties in Okinawan.
Miguel Da Luz