Japanese for your training in the dojo

Talk the talk while you walk the walk

So you made the trip and you have arrived and you are ready to train in the Mecca of karate that is Okinawa but wait, there is a slight problem, and that is the language barrier. You get to the dojo and find out that the master does not speak English. What to do now? No problem, because here is a list of the basic Japanese an aspiring pupil will need for karate training. Study hard and prosper.

English Japanese
Please; Please Help Me
Thank You
Excuse Me
Good Morning (Hello)
Good Afternoon (Hello)
Good Evening (Hello)
Good Bye
Line Up
Ready; Open
Move Back
Move Forward
Strike; Punch
Bow (courtesy)
Beginning; Opening
Ending; Closing
Sparring (meeting of hands)
26 Step Sparring / Continuous
5 Man Sparring / Surrounded
1 Step Block And Counter
2 Attacks, 2 Blocks And Counter
Weapons (ancient martial art)
Onegai Shimasu
Arigato Gozamashita
Ohayo Gozaimasu
Ippo Ato
Ippo Mae
Renzoku Kumite
Kakomi Kumite
Ippon Kumite
Nihon Kumite
Karate Training in Okinawa

Karate Training in Okinawa


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Traveling on the Monorail in Naha

Travel above the heart of city

When you come to Okinawa, the monorail which is known as “Yui Rail” is a good way to travel around Naha. With 15 different stops high above the city streets, it gives a great view of the city of Naha. The trip from the airport (Naha - kuko) to Shuri castle on the monorail takes about 30 minutes. The cost is under 400 yen one way. (Make sure to keep your ticket after you use it in order to get through the gate as you will need it when you exit at your stop.) If you buy a 1 day pass for 700 yen you can use the monorail an unlimited amount of times for a 24 hour period. That being said, it is important to know that the monorail opens at 6 AM and closes at 11:30 PM every day. If you need to get around the city after that time you can always catch a cab. As for the buses, it will depend on the company since they all have different schedules. More on that at a later date.

Returning to the monorail ticketing system, the ticketing machines in the station have English available as an option. If you will be in Naha for an extended period of time and don't want to have to purchase a ticket every time you go to a monorail station, you can purchase from the ticket machines (or the counter) prepaid rechargeable cards that you swipe at the ticket gates. These cards are called “Okica” (オキカ) and they can be purchased with varying amounts of money stored on the card as needed. You can charge these cards in prepaid amounts ranging from as low as 1000yen on up to 30,000 yen (roughly 10 USD to 300 USD). Additionally these cards can also be used for the four local main bus companies of Okinawa. These are the regular city and inter-island buses, not the big tourist buses. Additionally, according to http://www.japanupdate.com/2015/04/local-bus-companies-switching-to-okica-system/ - “People can get a refund for points depending on the frequency of use. For example, one can get 10 points for each ¥10 used for commuting. The points can then be used for a fare from 100 points on.”- (On the Okica card.)

Picture of the Okica card

Picture of the Okica card

All of the monorail stops have their merits but the monorail stop I want to talk about today is the Oroku station. If you have just arrived from Europe or wherever location that uses 220 volts as plug-in power, and you need a plug-in converter to charge your electronics, or if you need sun block lotion, band-aids, blister ointment, sandals, shorts, etc. Then the Oroku station is the perfect place to stop for shopping because it is connected to an Aeon mall with supermarkets, drugstores, restaurants, a food court with local delicacies, and ATM machines. JP (Japan's post office) is on the 4th floor and they will take debit and credit cards from foreign countries. In Okinawa, the ATM's close at 10 PM during the week and 9 PM on the weekends. I know what you are thinking. That's crazy and inconvenient, but that is the way it is here, so if your going out and need money — get it before 9 pm. Japan is mostly a cash society and the prefecture of Okinawa is no exception to that. Most big restaurants and night clubs accept credit cards, but the smaller places like izakayas and little mom and pop bars will not accept credit cards or debit cards. So get your cash funds ready, because in my opinion the little places are much more interesting than the big restaurant chains, and the local people are friendly and engaging.

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Okinawa – Climate

Everything you need to know about the sticky sunshine

Sky and sea during the summer months in Okinawa.

Sky and sea during the summer months in Okinawa.

The climate of Okinawa can be extreme at times, and at other times mild and pleasant depending on what time of the year it is. The main island lies at around 26 degrees latitude and so has a subtropical climate. Although the tourist brochures advertise this place as an island paradise with beautiful sunny weather in a mild and warm climate, the reality of the weather here can be a bit different than that. The main island is often covered in clouds of some sort a majority of the time. If you enjoy clouds and cloud formations mixed in with your sunshine, then this is the place for you. In the summer, huge thunder clouds build up daily and can threaten rain at any time if the conditions are right.

Since there is so much water vapor in the air here, the island has exceptionally high levels of humidity at times. In the summer, this means incredible hot, sticky, and uncomfortable weather. To get an idea of how hot it can feel, the humidity averages around 80 to 85%. That means on a day where the temperatures are around 85 degrees Fahrenheit, 30 degrees Celsius, it can easily feel like around 37 degrees Celsius, 100 degrees Fahrenheit. When the actual temps go up to into the nineties Fahrenheit, thirties Celsius, the heat index can easily go up to 104 degrees Fahrenheit, 40 degrees Celsius or more. That means as a tourist, certain things are a must due to this mugginess. I always recommend carrying bottled water with you as there are a dearth of public water fountains. Fortunately there are plenty of convenience stores and vending machines around the cities where water and other drinks can be purchased. Muggy conditions can drain the body of water quickly as one constantly perspires, which can be uncomfortable, if not downright dangerous on a very hot day here. I also recommend that you carry a small hand towel with you at all times during the summer, as even a short walk on a humid day can leave one dripping with sweat.

If you intend to work out here during the summer whether it be for karate, running, or something else, be prepared for short, hot, and difficult workouts if you are not used to sultry conditions. If you are thinking of exercising inside to escape the sun, be prepared as well as there is a lack of air conditioning in the karate dojos and basketball gyms. Water or other sport drinks, sweat towels, and common sense are musts. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are definite possibilities in summer here so take it easy. Humid weather can drain even the fittest athlete in a very short time. Showers are also a must after a workout as the constant humidity during the day will keep you and your workout clothes wet after exercising. Additionally, body odor quickly becomes a factor as well. A shower will help cool you off and your friends and family will thank you for it.

One more item worth noting is sunburn. Sunburns, especially in summer can happen rapidly and be very painful. In spite of all the clouds, the sun is strong here and will start burning the skin within 15 minutes of exposure. A strong sunscreen is recommended then for anyone planning to go outdoors for extended periods of time. This holds true for most of the year and one can easily get burned in fall and spring as well. So put that in with your water and towel also.

A great way to enjoy the summer heat is to go to the beaches during summer. The waters around the islands are downright warm ranging from upper 70s to low 80s F, upper 20s to around 30 C. This makes for great swimming and snorkeling temperatures while staying cool from the ambient air.

The transition to summer time is from May to June and it brings the rainy season. The rainy season is a monsoon that lasts for about a month and with it comes endless rain and humidity. When it rains in Okinawa and this is especially true of the rainy season, the rain comes down in buckets. It pours and literally there can be a couple of inches dumped in a couple of hours. This torrent of joy can go on all day long, and off and on for days at a time. Due to this, a good umbrella is recommended if you come to Okinawa during that time. Cheap ones can be purchased at any local Daiso stores which are the Japanese equivalent to dollar stores in the states.

Once the rainy season mercifully comes to an end, the real heat of summer kicks in until October. Thunderstorms are common in the summer and can literally drag on for hours sometimes. One particular species of lightning that happens here during the summer is heat lightning where there might not be any actual thunderclouds in the area, but lightning is happening nonetheless, seemingly coming from nowhere and without any sound. The final delight of summer worth mentioning is the typhoons which is the name given to hurricanes in the United States. Typhoons usually originate south of here in the Pacific and then either move west to the Philippines or move north to Taiwan, Okinawa or the mainland of Japan. These storms can come in multiples just like the hurricanes that originate off of the coast of Africa. They can range from almost nonexistent to down right terrifying. Typhoons are unpredictable and often times you will not know with 100% certainty how strong they will be until they are actually hitting the island. From my personal experience, best to err on the side of caution. That being said though, Okinawa is probably the best place on earth to ride out a typhoon safely. The buildings and infrastructure here are built to take & withstand category five hurricanes. There is often little property damage like what Americans are accustomed to in the states and the power and water supply is also not usually an issue when a typhoon hits. The best thing to do when a strong typhoon comes to Okinawa is stay in your hotel and ride it out safely. If the bus service is shut down in the main city of Naha, it means that generally most people are taking the day off and most places will be closed until the storm passes. If you are feeling foolhardy and courageous enough and feel like venturing out during a typhoon, there will probably be a few crazy taxi drivers out and about, ready to take you wherever you need or desire to go.

The fall, winter, and spring are all much shorter in comparison to the summer lasting about two months each. The winters can be cold and windy but also mild and uneventful compared to mainland Japan. The temperatures in the winter can drop down to 50 degrees Fahrenheit, 10 degrees Celsius which in itself is not bad, but add in the winds and the wind chill can easily make it feel a bit colder. Because of that, if you decide to visit in the winter, a good coat and maybe a light scarf is recommended for those cold days.

Fall and Spring are probably the best times of the year in Okinawa. The weather is usually tolerable and pleasant with clear and mild days in November and at the beginning of May around the Golden Week holiday. That being said, the weather at all times of the year can turn on a dime and go from pleasant to nasty in the space of just a few hours. So always be prepared and check the weather forecast before going out the door. The best way to do that is to go to the Japan Meteorological Agency abbreviated JMA at http://www.jma.go.jp/jma/indexe.html. Click on the Radar & Nowcasts (Precipitation, Thunder and Tornados) link for a radar shot of any and all precipitation or other weather events in the area. Clicking on that link will bring up a large radar map of Japan and all one needs to do is click on the island of Okinawa to get a close up view of what is going on in the skies weather-wise. Two other websites for Okinawa that I recommend in regards to typhoon forecasts are http://www.stripes.com/blogs/pacific-storm-tracker/pacific-storm-tracker-1.257110 and http://www.westernpacificweather.com/. Both of these sites will give you up to date information on any typhoons that are heading toward Japan.

With the right planning, there is decent weather all year round in Okinawa to be had for all, so come and enjoy!

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Spring Sale!

This spring Gateway To Okinawa is offering a discount to groups coming to Okinawa. Valid until June 30th 2015. Buy ten rooms and get one for free. Support your sensei or a hard working poor student with a free room. If you are interested please fill in the contact form.

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Zen Okinawa Karate Do Renmei Bonenkai

Seasons greetings all,

I have uploaded some video to our Gateway to Okinawa Youtube channel from the latest Zen Okikuren Bonenkai. It is all in Japanese but I hope you can get something out of it. There is also some Okinawan singing and dancing.

The location of the even was a place call Naha Ryotei.

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About 6 months ago I was asked to join a moai. For those who don't know what a moai is it's just a gathering of people for a certain purpose. Usually money is involved as everyone every month contributes a set amount and after some time you are able to withdraw a large amount of money.

I belong to two moai in Okinawa one with my main dojo and another. The moai for my dojo is about getting together outside of the dojo to socialize. The second moai was created by Uezu sensei of Uechi-ryu and Kobudo. The purpose of this moai is a discussion group on the propagation of Okinawan karate. As a result myself and James Pankiewicz of the Dojo Bar were asked to join. The members include many high ranking karate and kobudo practitioners as well as several others with skills that could contribute to the group's purpose.

We had our meeting last night at the Dojo Bar and I took some photos that I though people might like to see.

Moai1This second photo includes Paul Babadelis sensei and Steve Lyons sensei of the Ryusyokai who are not part of the moai, as well as Taira Masaji sensei who is part of the moai.Moai2The number of members is fluid at the moment but there are around 10-12 members at this time. As you can see the number of people who stayed for the party was just a handful.

PS I am working on a series of posts from our first seminar series so stay tuned.


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Martial art bio of Moromisato Shinsuke sensei

真武館 範士(九段)諸見里 真助



194611月 沖縄県具志頭村(現:八重瀬町)にて出生

19675月 沖縄拳法親田道場入門

19713月 本部御殿手聖道館入門 上原清吉先生に師事

20033月 本部御殿手上原清吉先生より範士の称号授与

20035月 道場再開設(真武館)

20038月 沖縄空手古武道世界大会空手古武道セミナー参画

20062月 第29回日本古武道演武大会参加(日本武道館に於いて過去9回参加)

20089月 沖縄県護国神社第50回記念大例祭奉納演武

20133月 第28回沖縄県空手古武道演武大会参加(過去8回参加)


Martial art bio of Moromisato Shinsuke sensei, Hanshi 9th dan, head of the Shinbukan


December 1946 Born in Gushikami Village (Nowadays Yaese Town)

May 1967 Started Okinawa Kenpo at the Oyata Dojo

March 1971 Entered the Motobu Udundi Seidokan Dojo and became a student of Uehara Seikichi sensei

March 2003 Awarded the Hanshi title from Motobu Udundi Uehara Seikichi sensei

May 2003 Opened his dojo, the Shinbukan

August 2003 Instructed karate & kobudo seminar during the Okinawa Karate Kobudo World Tournament

February 2006 Demonstrated at the 29th All Japan Kobudo Demonstration (9 participations to this event held at the Nihon Budokan in Tokyo)

September 2008 Participated in the dedicatory demonstration of the 50th Commemorative Festival of the Okinawa Prefecture Gokoku Shrine

March 2013 Demonstrated during the Okinawa Prefecture Karatedo Federation’s 28th Demonstration (8 participations to this annual event)

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Australian Travel Agent

Karate travel prices

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Hokama Tetsuhiro

Hokama Tetsuhiro

President of the Okinawa Gojuryu Kenshi Kai Karatedo Kobudo Association



Tetsuhiro Hokama was born in Taiwan in 1944 to his parents, both of Okinawan decent. He  began training informally under his grandfather, Seiken Tokuyama, in 1952. In 1961 his formal  training began at the Naha Commercial High School Karatedo club, which was under the  supervision of Mr. Chiyokutani Irashi (Gojuryu), under Seiko Higa. That same year he began  training with the legendary Seiko Higa (1898 -1966) a student of Kanryo Higaonna (1853-  1915) and Chojun Miyagi (1888-1953). It was at Higa’s Dojo where he met Shinpo Matayoshi  (1922-1997 Kobudo teacher) and began learning Kobudo, Hakutsuru ken (White Crane fist)  and Kingai Ryu (a martial art that his father, Shinko Matayoshi 1888- 1945 learned in  Manchuria).

Upon the death of Seiko Higa in 1966 Hanshi Hokama continue his training with one of Higa’s  top student Seiko Fukuchi (1919-1975) who was Seiko Higa’s assistant instructor. He also  trained in Okinawan Kobudo under Shinpo Matayoshi.

In 1974, he became the director of the Okinawan High School Karatedo Association, after  establishing several Karatedo clubs, and was awarded the title of Shihan in 1977. He was a  technical advisor for the All-Japan Karatedo Ken Yu Kai, and secretary for the All Okinawa Karatedo Association.

Of Hokama Tesuhiro's prominent accomplishments is his book History of Okinawa Karate, published in 1984, followed by Hokama Sensei opening the first ever Karatedo Museum in January of 1987, called the Okinawa Prefecture Karatedo wa Kobudo Museum in Nishihara Okinawa and built a monument in Okinawa to noting it as the birthplace of Karatedo. He currently heads the Okinawan Ken Shi Kai organization.

Tetsuhiro Hokama is a 10th Dan Gojuryu Karatedo Hanshi, President of the Okinawa Gojuryu Kenshi Kai Karatedo Kobudo Association and founder of the first Karatedo museum in the World. Although not as well known in the United States compared to other Okinawan Gojuryu teachers, Hanshi Hokama is one of the most knowledgeable Gojuryu Karatedo masters. He has a deep understanding of the “Old Ways” of Karate.

(Taken with permission from http://www.tetsuhirohokama.net/About_Us.html )


Web Presence







We at GTO hope you enjoy this in our second instalment of our bio series.

A special thanks, out to my friend, Chris Willson at www.travel67.com for the use of his fine photos for our website.

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Senaha Shigetoshi Ryusyokai Kaicho

Senaha Shigetoshi

World Ryusyokai President


Senaha sensei is the first teacher to be profiled in our seminar series. We hope you enjoy these posts.




August 1958 Started learning Karate under Meitoku Yagi
September 1958 Started learning Kobudo under Shinken Taira
April 1967 Became Director of the All Okinawan Karate-do Association
April 1969 Became Vice-President of the Okinawa Karate-do Gojyu-Kai
October 1974 Established the Tomishiro Meibukan Dojo
April 1983 Became a Judge at Shogo-Shinsa
April 1987 Became President of the Okinawa Karate-do Gojyu-Kai
June 1987 Received Hanshi 9th Dan
1988 Invited to Brazil to teach Gojyu-ryu
April 1985 - 1993 President of the Okinawa Gojyu-ryu Meibu-Kai
October 1993 Invited to the 1st China-Ryukyu Bujutsu Goodwill match in Taiwan
April 1995 Became President of the Tomishiro Bujutsu Kyokai
April 1996 Organized the 2nd China-Ryukyu Bujutsu Goodwill match in Okinawa
August 1996 Invited to Canada to teach Gojyu-ryu
October 1996 Invited to Germany to teach Gojyu-ryu. Demonstrated at the World Budo Action Seminar
September 1998 Invited to Canada to teach Gojyu-ryu
March 1999 Formed the Ryusyokai
August 1999 Invited to Canada to teach Gojuryu. Demonstrated at the Beikoku Shidokan Tai Kai.
August 2000 Invited to India to teach
October 2000 Invited to Cuba to teach
July 2001 Invited to Canada to teach
July 2002 Invited to Canada to teach
August 2004 Invited to Canada to teach

Since 2004 Senaha sensei has made many trips to Australia and Canada, plus one trip to Europe. He is still very active in teaching in Okinawa and abroad and likes to lead by example.

Taken with permission from www.ryusyokai.org






Web Presence








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We are very happy that Senaha sensei has agreed to work with us at GTO. He is considered on Okinawa and abroad to be one of the leading experts on Goju-Ryu karate and should not be missed.



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