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Okinawa Shorin Ryu New Zealand
Matsubayashi Ryu
Karate - Kobudo

Okinawa Shorin-ryu
New Zealand
Matsubayashi-ryu karate & kobudo
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2012 -  HAISAI UCHINA
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Okinawa Shorin Ryu New Zealand Copyright 2006
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2012 -  Haisai Uchina
It was hot and humid weather that greeted Shihan Kevin, Shihandai Tim Herlihy and senior club member Jim Johnston as they landed once again on the Island of karate.This would be Kevin Sensei's fourteenth trip to Okinawa, Tim's eighth and Jim's second. Here once more to refresh, learn, absorb and sweat.
" training at Kodokan Taira dojo with newly elected President of the WMKA ..."
Greeting the kiwi's at the Toyoko Inn hotel was, good friend, Canadian Tony Gibson from Bowmanville Matsubayashi Ryu. There to join the team in training at Kodokan Taira dojo with newly elected President of the WMKA, Kancho, Yoshitaka Taira, Hanshi 10th Dan.
Catching up with friends shopping at Shureido and a little sight seeing was on the list of  "must do's" for the guys and over the next two

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It was hot and humid weather that greeted Shihan Kevin, Shihandai Tim Herlihy and senior club member Jim Johnston as they landed once again on the Island of karate.This would be Kevin Sensei's fourteenth trip to Okinawa, Tim's eighth and Jim's second. Here once more to refresh, learn, absorb and sweat.
Kevin sensei, Jim, Tim and Tony
Cold beer on a hot day ...ah
weeks these and many more things were accomplished. Departing New Zealand's cold wet winter the kiwi's were immediately hit by the hot sub-tropical climate and fast moving typhoon 'Haikui' that was converging on the Island.
Taira dojo training

Training at "Jitchaku" dojo is always a pleasure with friendships and respect grown and forged over many years of traveling to Okinawa. Kancho Taira, Shihandai Higa and senior members Manabu Sensei, Sato san, Kancho's son Satoru and resident serviceman Damian Finke has made and continue to make each visit by the kiwi's enjoyable and memorable.
 
On this visit to Taira dojo the invitation to train on two occasions was extended to Australian karateka Reece Cummings and well known "Dojobar " owner James Pankiewicz. Both thoroughly enjoyed the sessions and solid training with the guys.

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Sato san, Tony Gibson, Damian Finke, Jim Johnston. Front: Shihan Kevin, Kancho Taira, Tim sensei.
Kancho Taira  demonstrating correct form for "wari uke zuki" from kata Chinto.
Tim & Tony
Tony & Kevin sensei
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Greeting the kiwi's at the Toyoko Inn hotel was, good friend, Tony Gibson from Bowmanville Matsubayashi Ryu, Canada. There to join the team in training at Kodokan Taira dojo with newly elected President of the WMKA, Kancho, Yoshitaka Taira, Hanshi 10th Dan.
Catching up with friends shopping at
Dojo group training working kata with Kancho Taira .
Over the next two weeks lots of sweat was to be left on the dojo floor as Kancho Taira  worked many area's of the visitors technique. Covering kihon to kata, Bo to bunkai, yakusoku kumite to kama and kiso tanren to tonfa! - Absolutely fantastic and the cold beers after each session were just as good!
 
" The dojo is the place where courage is fostered and superior human nature is bred through the ecstasy of sweating in hard work."
O'Sensei Shoshin Nagamine
Cold beer on a hot day...ah
Kevin sensei, Jim, Tim and Tony
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Once the training has finished there is always the good food, drink and company.
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Shureido and a little sight seeing was on the list of  "must do's" for the guys and over the next two weeks these and many more things were accomplished. Departing New Zealand's cold wet winter the kiwi's were immediately hit by the hot sub-tropical climate and fast moving typhoon 'Haikui' that was converging on the Island.
At Taira dojo after kobudo training. Sato san, Jim Johnston, Herlihy sensei, Tony Gibson, Satoru san (son of Kancho)
Front: Shihan Plaisted, Shihandai Higa, Manabu sensei
Tonfa training at Taira dojo
A visit to the Nagamine Haka

On a warm sunny morning before training Kevin sensei, Tim, Tony and Jim embarked on a journey to the Nagamine Tomb, it being only a short distance from both dojo and hotel. The team had sought permission to make the visit and all agreed this would be an ideal time, while together in Okinawa, to pay their respects.
With the recent passing of Soke Nagamine this trip to the Haka would be extra special as it gave the guys the opportunity to reflect on, acknowledge and appreciate the commitment, passion and lasting legacy left by these Masters of Matsubayashi ryu.
Having visited the tomb many years before the guys were amazed just how much the surrounding landscape had changed. School sport courts and apartment buildings are now relatively close by and high rise buildings and housing expansion is beginning to encroach, though the view from the tomb to the habour  is still as beautiful as ever.
The team laid flowers and performed kata in honour and respect to the Nagamine family, on behalf of Matsubayashi ryu NZ, Bowmanville Canada and many friends from within the WMKA. View video of kata Fukyugata ichi at the haka.
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Taira dojo training

Training at "Jitchaku" dojo is always a pleasure with friendships and respect grown and forged over many years of traveling to Okinawa. Kancho Taira, Shihandai Higa and senior members Manabu Sensei, Sato san, Kancho's son Satoru and resident serviceman Damian Finke has made and continue to make each visit by the kiwi's enjoyable and memorable.
 
On this visit to Taira dojo the invitation to train on two occasions was extended to Australian karateka Reece Cummings and well known "Dojobar " owner James Pankiewicz. Both thoroughly enjoyed the sessions and solid training with the guys.

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Clockwise: 1.Shihan Plaisted;  2. Jim Johnston, Shihandai Herlihy & Shihan Plaisted;  3.Kevin, Tony Gibson & Tim;
Bottom: 4 & 5. Tony Gibson
 A moment to remember and a time to reflect. With regards and respect from Matsubayashi NZ and Bowmanville Canada.
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The Dojo Bar

A karate trip to Okinawa is just not complete without visiting ( more than once ) the iconic  "Dojo Bar."
Located on Sogenji-dori between Monorails, Miebashi Station and Makishi Station on the same street as the Shureido shop.
James Pankiewicz owns and operates a unique establishment in Naha where martial art enthusiasts from all over the world congregate to meet, greet, drink and talk karate. All sharing a common bond that is "budo and beer. "
James has an amazing range of beverages available, from imported and local beer's to original cocktails with names very similar to that of Matsubayashi Ryu kata, and like the kata these shot's pack a punch
There is also loads of information available at the Dojo Bar with regards to training and / or visiting clubs in Okinawa. James has a wealth of knowledge regarding the Budo community on the Island.
A few late nights were had at the Bar by the Kiwi's, Canadian's, Aussie's and Okinawan's where food, drink and great conversation ( karate of course ) was shared.
 

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Jim impersonating James at the Dojo Bar
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Sato san, Tony, Damian Finke, Jim. Front: Shihan Kevin, Kancho Taira, Tim.
Tim & Tony
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Clockwise: Jim, Kevin sensei, Kancho Taira, Reece, Tim, Tony, Yogi sensei, Sato san.
Taira Masaji sensei and Kevin Plaisted sensei
Clockwise: Kevin sensei, Jim, Tony, Reece Cummings, Taira Masaji sensei, Miguel Da Luz, Tim (obscured)
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When visiting the Dojo Bar make sure you hit the makiwara and sign the wall. Check out the portraits, artwork and try the pizza. Don't forget to have a chat with James and his staff who are great to talk to and fantastic host's who make you feel welcome.

The Dojo Bar
Clockwise: Standing: Reece Cummings, Jim,
Seated: Tim, unsure, James Pankiewicz, Kevin & Tony
Kancho Taira  demonstrating correct form for "wari uke zuki" from kata Chinto.
The Okinawa Karate Museum

Travelling north-east to Nishihara was definitely a trip Shihan Kevin, Tim, Tony and Jim wanted to make. Located there is the famous "Okinawa Karate Museum" owned by respected Budo master Dr. Tetsuhiro Hokama, Hanshi 10th dan. Who is head of the International Goju-ryu Kenshi-Kai  Karate and Kobudo Association.
After contacting  Hokama sensei over the phone  Kevin sensei was able to arrange a visit to the museum outside of usual opening times which was just fantastic for the guys who on many trips to Okinawa had not yet visited Nishihara.
Good friends with Kancho Taira  and Matsubayashi Ryu, Hokama sensei's work in the field of research, promotion and literary publications on Okinawan martial arts is highly respected within the Budo community and indeed through out the world. His english language book's are a "must have" to compliment any karate library.
Arriving at Hokama dojo the team were first invited in for tea with the sensei before moving upstairs to view the museum. A very polite and  welcoming man it was such a wonderful opportunity to sit and chat with the master as his Budo knowledge and world travel experiences are truly remarkable.
 

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Tony & Kevin sensei
Kevin sensei, Dr Hokama sensei, Tim sensei, Tony & Jim.
The museum upstairs from the dojo is an amazing collection of artifacts, literature and Budo history amassed over many years by the master with many rare and historically significant pieces on view. It was a great privilege to also have Hokama sensei and his senior visiting student, Louis from New York, escort the visitors through the museum and offer insight's and explanation on the many exhibits.
 
As the tour through the museum was drawing to an end the honour to have calligraphy brushed by the master was an opportunity not to be missed. A master calligrapher, Hokama sensei created wonderful pieces for all the visitors before they left.
The Okinawa Karate Museum is at 147-2, Uehara, Nishihara Town, Okinawa.

Dojo group training working kata with Kancho Taira .
Over the next two weeks lots of sweat was to be left on the dojo floor as Kancho Taira  worked many area's of the visitors technique. Covering kihon to kata, Bo to bunkai, yakusoku kumite to kama and kiso tanren to tonfa! - Absolutely fantastic and the cold beers after each session were just as good!
 
" The dojo is the place where courage is fostered and superior human nature is bred through the ecstasy of sweating in hard work."
O'Sensei Shoshin Nagamine
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Dr Hokama sensei created calligraphic pieces for each of the group.
A Shodan testing

When training in Okinawa there is no greater honour and privilege than to have the opportunity to test for a new grade.
Jim Johnston was preparing to undergo his testing for shodan in New Zealand but with the trip to Okinawa planned Shihan Kevin sought an arrangement with Kancho Taira for the testing to take place while visiting the Island.
Over many training sessions under the watchful eye's of Taira Kancho, Shihandai Higa and Shihan Kevin, Jim's kihon, kata, bunkai and yakusoku kumite was tweaked, fine tuned and sharpened in preparation for the big day.
Kevin sensei  was given the date and time as to when Jim was to undergo testing. It so happened that when that day arrived it could not have been a hotter day on the Island.
Judging by the amount of sweat being continuously wiped off the dojo floor during the testing it was evident Jim was working hard for his new grade.
Over a period of three hours, which included kata and bunkai preparations with Kevin sensei, Tim and Tony, Jim successfully completed and achieved the tasks set for him.
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The testing panel comprising Kancho Taira and Shihandai Higa were pleased with Jim's effort and awarded him his Shodan. Kevin sensei, Sato san, Tim, Tony and WMKA Secretary Riki Nomura were also very happy for Jim and his achievement. An extra special moment was the presentation by Kancho to Jim of a new shodan certificate and brand new Shureido obi, Kampai!

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The testing panel watch intently.
Shihandai Higa & Kancho Taira.
Kancho Taira presents Jim Johnston with his shodan certificate and his new black obi.
Once training has finished there is always good food, drink and company.
Peace Memorial Park

Located at the southern end of Okinawa close to Itoman city is the magnificent and serene Peace Memorial Park. Having heard from many people about how wonderful  this park is, it was decided by all four that a visit there had to be done. The park is situated on the historically significant  Mabuni Hill, site of the Japanese Military headquarters on the Island and scene of heavy fighting in late June 1945 at the end of the Battle of Okinawa. The memorial park is a sombre reminder to us all what War and the devastation it causes brings to both people and country. Set amongst beautiful landscapes and breath taking views to the coastline and ocean beyond it is hard to imagine what went on here during the Battle of Okinawa and the "Typhoon of Steel" that rained upon the Island during World war II . Many amazing sculptures and monuments like the "Corner Stone of Peace" are found through out the vast outdoor area with indoor exhibits featuring static displays and archive film footage that truly captures the colour of War. The park is  dedicated to the memory of the many Okinawans, Japanese and Westerners that perished in the Okinawan and Pacific campaigns and is a constant reminder that Peace must prevail.
Attracting many visitors each year the Peace Memorial Park was an enjoyable experience for the Kiwi's and Canadian and is certainly a "must see" for anyone visiting Okinawa.
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Eternal peace flame.On bottom of fountain is a map of the pacific.
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Path leading down to the coast.
pathway to hill top monuments and best views to coast.
Peace hill monument
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At Taira dojo after kobudo training. Sato san, Jim Johnston, Herlihy sensei, Tony Gibson, Satoru san (son of Kancho)
Front: Shihan Plaisted, Shihandai Higa, Manabu sensei
A visit to the Nagamine Haka

On a warm sunny morning before training Kevin sensei, Tim, Tony and Jim embarked on a journey to the Nagamine Tomb, it being only a short distance from both dojo and hotel. The team had sought permission to make the visit and all agreed this would be an ideal time, while together in Okinawa, to pay their respects.
With the recent passing of Soke Nagamine this trip to the Haka would be extra special as it gave the guys the opportunity to reflect on, acknowledge and appreciate the commitment, passion and lasting legacy left by these Masters of Matsubayashi ryu.
Having visited the tomb many years before the guys were amazed just how much the surrounding landscape had changed. School sport courts and apartment buildings are now relatively close by and high rise buildings and housing expansion is beginning to encroach, though the view from the tomb to the habour  is still as beautiful as ever.
The team laid flowers and performed kata in honour and respect to the Nagamine family, on behalf of Matsubayashi ryu NZ, Bowmanville Canada and many friends from within the WMKA.
Jim takes in beautiful view from monument of the southern coastline.
Spectactular hill top view over looking the lush bush and caves.
Kiwis at  the Southern Okinawan coastline
Friends

Enjoying the company of friends and having the opportunity to make new one's are some of the great pleasures of visiting Okinawa.
Meeting Miguel Da Luz was one of those pleasures. An amazing and sociable man who is well known for his literary accomplishments and  budo connections on the Island.
Miguel is a  good friend of Kancho Taira and  is a no-nonsense straight talker who on many occasions translated for Kancho, Sensei Kevin and the guys on matters regarding Matsubayashi Ryu.
Sharing a beer after training, having a laugh together and eating delicious food made by dojo family members reinforces why returning to Okinawa and Taira dojo is such a pleasure.
It is not only for the expert and rewarding training but also and importantly the friendly and welcoming atmosphere that has always been extended to the kiwis and their friends.  
 Mata yassi.  See you again.
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Kevin sensei with Miguel Da Luz
Local kid calls Police after man takes his bike.
Taira dojo BBQ party at Sato san's house.
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Four friends having a great time  at  'Maui's steak house "  on Kokusai dori.
Farewell send off at airport by Kancho Taira, Shihandai Higa and members of Jitchaku dojo.
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 A moment to remember and a time to reflect. With regards and respect from Matsubayashi NZ and Bowmanville Canada.
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Jim impersonating James at the Dojo Bar
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The Dojo Bar

A karate trip to Okinawa is just not complete without visiting, more than once, the iconic  "Dojo Bar."
Located on Sogenji-dori between Monorails, Miebashi Station and Makishi Station on the same street as the Shureido shop.
James Pankiewicz owns and operates a unique establishment in Naha where martial art enthusiasts from all over the world congregate to
Taira Masaji sensei and Kevin Plaisted sensei
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Clockwise: Kevin sensei, Jim, Tony, Reece Cummings, Taira Masaji sensei, Miguel Da Luz, Yogi sensei and Tim (obscured)
meet, greet, drink and talk karate. All sharing a common bond that is "budo and beer. "
James has an amazing range of beverages available, from imported and local beer's to original cocktails with names very similar to that of Matsubayashi Ryu kata, and like the kata these shot's pack a punch
There is also loads of information available at the Dojo Bar with regards to training and / or visiting clubs in Okinawa. James has a wealth of knowledge regarding the Budo community on the Island.
A few late nights were had at the Bar by the Kiwi's, Canadian's, Aussie's and Okinawan's where food, drink and great conversation
(karate of course) was shared.
 

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Clockwise: Jim, Kevin sensei, Kancho Taira, Reece, Tim, Tony, Yogi sensei, Sato san.
Clockwise: Standing: Reece Cummings, Jim,
Seated: Tim, unsure, James Pankiewicz, Kevin & Tony
When visiting the Dojo Bar make sure you hit the makiwara and sign the wall. Check out the portraits, artwork and try the pizza. Don't forget to have a chat with James and his staff who are great to talk to and fantastic host's who make you feel welcome.

The Dojo Bar
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The Okinawa Karate Museum

Travelling north-east to Nishihara was definitely a trip Shihan Kevin, Tim, Tony and Jim wanted to make. Located there is the famous "Okinawa Karate Museum" owned by respected Budo master Dr. Tetsuhiro Hokama, Hanshi 10th dan. Who is head of the International Goju-ryu Kenshi-Kai  Karate and Kobudo Association.
After contacting  Hokama sensei over the phone  Kevin sensei was able to arrange a visit to the museum outside of usual opening times which was just
Kevin sensei, Dr Hokama sensei, Tim sensei, Tony & Jim.
Dr Hokama sensei created calligraphic pieces for each of the group.
fantastic for the guys who on many trips to Okinawa had not yet visited Nishihara.
Good friends with Kancho Taira  and Matsubayashi Ryu, Hokama sensei's work in the field of research, promotion and literary publications on Okinawan martial arts is highly respected within the Budo community and indeed through out the world. His english language book's are a "must have" to compliment any karate library.
Arriving at Hokama dojo the team were first invited in for tea with the sensei before moving upstairs to view the museum. A very polite and  welcoming man it was such a wonderful opportunity to sit and chat with the master as his Budo knowledge and world travel experiences are truly remarkable.
 

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planned Shihan Kevin sought an arrangement with Kancho Taira for the testing to take place while visiting the Island.
Over many training sessions under the watchful eye's of Taira Kancho, Shihandai Higa and Shihan Kevin, Jim's kihon, kata, bunkai and yakusoku kumite was tweaked, fine tuned and sharpened in preparation for the big day.
Kevin sensei  was given the date and time as to when Jim was to undergo testing. It so happened that when that day arrived it could not have been a hotter day on the Island.
Judging by the amount of sweat being continuously wiped off the dojo floor during the testing it was evident Jim was working hard for his new grade.
Over a period of three hours, which included kata and bunkai preparations with Kevin sensei, Tim and Tony, Jim successfully completed and achieved the tasks set for him.
A Shodan testing

When training in Okinawa there is no greater honour and privilege than to have the opportunity to test for a new grade.
Jim Johnston was preparing to undergo his testing for shodan in New Zealand but with the trip to Okinawa
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Kancho Taira presented Jim Johnston with his shodan certificate and his new black obi.
The testing panel comprising Kancho Taira and Shihandai Higa were pleased with Jim's effort and awarded him his Shodan. Kevin sensei, Sato san, Tim, Tony and WMKA Secretary Riki Nomura were also very happy for Jim and his achievement. An extra special moment was the presentation by Kancho to Jim of a new shodan certificate and brand new Shureido obi, Kampai!

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Eternal peace flame.On bottom of fountain is a map of the pacific.
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Peace hill monument
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Kiwis at  the Southern Okinawan coastline
Peace Memorial Park

Located at the southern end of Okinawa close to Itoman city is the magnificent and serene Peace Memorial Park. Having heard from many people about how wonderful  this park is, it was decided by all four that a visit there had to be done. The park is situated on the historically significant  Mabuni Hill, site of the Japanese Military headquarters on the Island and scene of heavy fighting in late
June 1945 at the end of the Battle of Okinawa. The memorial park is a sombre reminder to us all what War and the devastation it causes brings to both people and country. Set amongst beautiful landscapes and breath taking views to the coastline and ocean beyond it is hard to imagine what went on here during the Battle of Okinawa and the "Typhoon of Steel" that rained upon the Island during World war II . Many amazing sculptures and monuments like the "Corner Stone of Peace" are found through out the vast outdoor area with indoor exhibits featuring static displays and archive film footage that truly captures the colour of War. The park is  dedicated to the memory of the many Okinawans, Japanese and Westerners that perished in the Okinawan and Pacific campaigns and is a constant reminder that Peace must prevail.
Attracting many visitors each year the Peace Memorial Park was an enjoyable experience for the Kiwi's and Canadian and is certainly a "must see" for anyone visiting Okinawa.
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Taira dojo BBQ party at Sato san's house.
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Friends

Enjoying the company of friends and having the opportunity to make new one's are some of the great pleasures of visiting Okinawa.
Meeting Miguel Da Luz was one of those pleasures. An amazing and sociable man who is well known for his literary accomplishments and  budo connections on the Island.

Local kid calls Police after man takes his bike.
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Kevin sensei with Miguel Da Luz
Miguel is a  good friend of Kancho Taira and  is a no-nonsense straight talker who on many occasions translated for Kancho, Sensei Kevin and the guys on matters regarding Matsubayashi Ryu.
Sharing a beer after training, having a laugh together and eating delicious food made by dojo family members reinforces why returning to Okinawa and Taira dojo is such a pleasure.
It is not only for the expert and rewarding training but also and importantly the friendly and welcoming atmosphere that has always been extended to the kiwis and their friends.  
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Four friends having a great time  at  'Maui's steak house "  on Kokusai dori.
Farewell send off at airport by Kancho Taira, Shihandai Higa and members of Jitchaku dojo.
 Mata yassi.  See you again.