If you’ve ever wanted to learn Karate in Okinawa look no further. This unique experience can be yours if you are trust worthy and hard working. The Okinawa KarateDo UechiRyu Zankyokai Nagahama Dojo offers both yoga and karate to beginners, intermediates and experienced instructors. The chief focus at the school is of course old-style Karate training with the purpose of creating a peaceful lifestyle while developing the means to protect that lifestyle if necessary.
On a small subtropical island such as Okinawa, it is usually physically impossible to take a road less travelled. However, if you are up to the challenge, you may find a certain small karate dojo in Yomitan to be just that rarely available detour.
When I got to Okinawa, I didn’t know a lot about martial arts, though I knew that Okinawa was considered the birthplace of karate in Japan. And, after having watched the Karate Kid movies, I thought it would be great to learn the way of karate at its source. The only problem was that I wanted to study it for my own personal satisfaction and self-improvement, not to fight in the ring or perform for others to see and judge on the tatami.
There are many places on Okinawa that will teach you the basic moves of karate, on and off the military bases. Luckily, I did not know about them when I saw the UechiRyu Zankyokai Dojo in Nagahama Yomitan for the first time. The location, environment, students and, of course, the sensei all made a positive impression on me. My intuition did not let me down since the philosophy, principles, and rules of the Uechi Ryu style have also appealed to my senses.
Surprisingly, the teacher (Seizan Sensei) is an American – trained almost wholly here on Okinawa, licensed and certified a true “Hanshi Kyudan” – a 9th degree black belt holder – and the only foreigner residing in Japan holding that rank level in the UechiRyu system. He began training in UechiRyu in 1974 in the States, but has been training on Okinawa since 1979. He teaches classes 50/50 in Japanese and English, so there was no barrier to learning the finer points and more subtle philosophies of the art.
His Okinawan wife (Sumako) teaches Yoga on Saturday mornings, too, and is a licensed Thai Masseuse. That’s right – all this under one roof!
Most importantly, this dojo offered me an opportunity to train and practice alongside my husband and daughter as opposed to just sitting outside and waiting for the session to be over. An ability to study the principles of karate as a family has been paramount in our quest to embrace this particular way of life. We don’t compete at tournaments in this dojo, so there is no pressure to beat total strangers senseless in front of family members! The dojo is a place where one can do physically challenging exercise, relax with a green tea and a snack during the break period, or it can be a healthy psychological outlet after a long day when you leave all your problems outside the screen door and just practice karate for a few hours.
As time passed, the learning process allowed me to understand that true karate is not simply a martial art, but a life art – a true lifestyle. Personally, I can apply the knowledge gained long after I leave Okinawa.
Thanks to my wonderful colleagues at StudyMartialArts.Org, I’m able to share this list of full-time Martial Arts School Reviews. Click the link and you’ll be able to compare and contrast Martial arts schools based on student reviews, price and StudyMartialArts.Org’s independent assessment.
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Martial Arts School Reviews
Here are some links to schools which have either been reviewed by students directly or have been collected to provide site users more information to help you narrowing your choice down.
Tianmeng Shaolin Kung Fu School – China
Tianmeng Shaolin Kung Fu Academy primarily focuses on teaching the traditional Meihua Quan (Plum Blossm Fist) which has both internal and external elements. In addition to Meihua Quan, Shaolin Kung Fu, Qigong, Qin Na, Tai Chi, Xingyi, Bagua, are also taught here. The school itself is relatively new and it has all the facilities that students will require to build a solid foundation in Martial Arts or reach higher levels. The school is unique for Meihua poles and Meihua training methods. These are designed to impove balance, internal power and footwork in a very short time.
Master Chen Fusheng’s Martial Arts Academy is located in Lixian Zhen, Daxing District of Beijing. Here you will learn traditional Bagua, Bajiquan, Pigua, Qi gong, Tai Chi, Tong Bei, Gong Li, Xi Yang Zheng, Hei Hu, Xingyi and Praying Mantis. Master Chen will teach you the best aspects of each of these styles for combat as well as his own Qi gong and fighting style Ba Ji Zhan Dao this is translated as Baji Battle Way. Master Chen has a vast wealth of knowledge in traditional martial arts and also in martial, healing and longevity qigong.
Rising Dragon Martial Arts School is location in Yongping county in Southern Yunnan Province. Yongping County is a very mountainous region which borders Myanmar, Laos, and Vietnam and has an average altitude of 1980m. YongPing has a population of around 170,000. and is located roughly in between the two Cities Dali and BaoShan, which are both no more than an hour’s drive away. The area is steeped in history with numerious temples, senic areas, mountains, lakes and even natural hot springs to visit.
Kunyu Mountain Shaolin Martial Arts Academy is a popular and long running International Kung Fu Schools in Shandong Province. Located in a beautiful rural setting on the edge of the Kunyu Shan National Park the school offers students of all abilities the chance to learn Shaolin Kung Fu, Taichi, Qigong,Wing Chun, Xingyi, Bagua, Baji, Northern Praying Mantis and Sanda.
Kunlun International Martial Arts School is a traditional Chinese kung fu school in rural Yantai. The school adjoins and uses the facilities of an ex-military base so as a result has excellent facilities. The school employes translators and has support staff in Yantai City. The School specialises in Seven Star Praying Mantis Boxing, Plum Blossom Praying Mantis Boxing, and Throwing Hand Praying Mantis Boxing as well as traditional Shaolin Kung Fu, Qi Gong and internal styles such as Bagua, Chen Style, Tai Chi and Xing Yi.
Wudang Hongdao Kung Fu School – China
Wudang Hongdao Kung Fu School’s lineage comes from the Xuan Wu Sect of Daoism and is located near Zhong Guan Temple on Wudang Shan. Situated on the Mountain and with training taking place in and around the temple. The school offers a unique experience and the chance to study martial arts as well as study the healing arts of internal alchemy, qigong on herbal studies. Students should have some level of Chinese and knowledge of TCM to get the most out of their healing arts studies. Part of their studies will involve finding and identifying various mountain herbs for the Zhong Guan Temples daoist monks as well as learning about their uses.
Lion Muay Thai Camp – Thailand
Lion Muay Thai is Phuket’s fastest growing Muay Thai camp offering students an opportunity to learn a new martial art, get fit and have fun in the paradise island of Phuket. Nestled amongst lush greenery in an area called Rawai the camp offers seclusion without being too far away from the local amenities. Students who attend this school include seasoned fighters and beginners. This is because the gym caters to every need. As a result students may get a chance to train alongside or rub shoulders with world champion fighters who appear on international fight shows and work with some of the best trainers in Thailand.
Kung Fu School, China – China
The Kung fu School, China offers Sanda, Shaolin Kung fu and Taichi quan intensive martial arts training. All this is provided by an equally intensive master. Master Wang Xinglong is a 32nd generation disciple of the Shaolin Temple. At the age of 12, he joined the Shaolin Temple and studied traditional Shaolin martial arts under the 31st generation disciple, Master Shi DeQian. At the school students should expect to train 8 hours each day, five days per week. All skill levels are welcome at the school and each student gets personalised training where Master Wang Xinglong considers your skills, strengths weaknesses, preferences and goals. Progress is solely determined by the effort you put in and your ability to learn and practice the skills.
Maling Shaolin Kung Fu School – China
The Maling Shaolin Kung Fu Academy is located in Xingyi City in Norther Jiangsu Province. Headmaster Bao founded the school recently, having previously been training international students at other academies. He has set up a fantastic place to train and live, where students can learn 7 different styles of Chinese martial arts. The main style is of course, Shaolin Kung Fu, although you can also learn Baji Quan, Tai Chi, Xingyi, Qigong, Sanda (Chinese kickboxing) and Bagua.
Yangshuo Taichi School – China
Yangshuo Taichi School was the first registered International Taichi and Kung fu training School in Yangshuo. The school is located in a tranquil and truely stunning location a bike ride from Yangshou. The school headmaster, Master Huang is a National Taichi Champion who is enthusiastic and dedicated to teaching Taichi as a martial art, as a healing art and also a philosophy.
Qufu Shaolin Kung Fu School – China
Qufu Shaolin Kung Fu School is a medium sized Shaolin Kung Fu school that has a freindly and welcoming feel. A perfect alternative to the often overly busy and inpersonal Shaolin Kung Fu Schools located in and around Dengfeng. This school is located on the outskirts of Qufu City, the birth place of Confucius and was founded in 2008 by 34th Generation Shaolin Warrior Monk Master Shi Yan Jia. Although the school is not located in and around Dengfeng it is one of only a few that have been given the seal of approval by the venerable Shi Yong Xin Head Abbot of the Songshan Shaolin Temple in Henan. This is a direct result of the Schools links to the Shaolin Temple’s Warrior Monk demonstration team.
Songshan Shaolin Traditional Wushu Academy is located inside the Original Shaolin Temple in Henan Province. The Shaolin Temple is was included in the UNESCO’s World Cultural and Natural Heritage List in 2010. And training at this school will uniquely allow you access to this amazing iconic cultural site. Indeed the training grounds of the school are located in areas where Temple monks train regularly.
The Yuntai Mountain International Culture and Martial Arts School was founded by Shi Yan Lin, a vastly experienced Shaolin Kung Fu master who teaches both Chinese and international students. The Martial Arts training at the school will primarily focus on the various Shaolin fists and weapons as well as Sanda and Taichi. In addition to the Martial Arts training the school also offers students the opportunity to study Chinese in combination with their martial arts training. The school itself is located in the famous Yuntai geological park, which attracts thousands of tourists every year. This area is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful place in Henan Province.
Zen Martial Arts Training – Senegal
Zen Martial Training is located in Les Mamelles. The school offers authentic Chinese traditional martial arts with traditional Asian healing arts along with the combat sport of Taekwondo. The head instructor of the school has over 20 years of experinece in competitive martial arts and has lived and studied martial arts in China for over 6 years. The Head instructor of the school speaks, Chinese, English, Spanish & French and is certified as a Yue Jia Quan Master, has a 5th degree belt in Mantis Fist, 3rd Dan in Taekwondo and is certified in acupunture and herbalist.
Following in the footsteps of Miyamoto Musashi
In honor of Miyamoto Musashi and his inspirational Go Rin No Sho (The Book of 5 Rings) the following information is for those wishing to visit Japan and various significant Miyamoto Musashi sites of interest. The following is his post with a little added extra information by me.
One of the best general resources is the Japan National Tourist Organization website at http://www.jnto.go.jp/ That being said, some of the places which martial artists may want to visit are very much off the beaten track and require a lot of searching online, questioning friends and strangers (a visit to any local dojo for help is highly recommended) and help from a local tourist office or bus station. Japan has very low crime, and its people are usually very helpful, so you will eventually get to where you need to be. Please be very respectful to everyone you deal with. For specific directions to the Reigando Cave I suggest getting to the Kumamoto City bus terminal / station and asking (you can write in English if you don’t speak Japanese and can’t find an English-speaking person). This site is also helpful: http://www.manyou-kumamoto.jp/contents.cfm?id=292
The Reigando Cave (霊巌洞) is basically a small cave in the mountains close to Kumamoto city. It is on the grounds of the very old Unganzenji temple (雲巌禅寺), and it was here, in this cave, where Miyamoto Musashi was said to have written his treatise the Go Rin no Sho (五輪書) in the early 1640′s. Here is a link to a relevant blog http://kenshi247.net/blog/2011/06/20/kendo-places-11-musashi-no-sato/ and here is a youtube link so you can have a look at the cave. Although this gives a good idea visually of how the cave looks. I really feel that you have to visit these places to feel the connection and the sense of peace. Its all about being truely there. That is after all why we enjoy traveling and why it can be a catalyst for awakening.
These links are for Ganryu-jima. – “Ganryūjima (巌流島, (formally Funajima 船島) is an island in Japan located between Honshū and Kyūshū, and accessible via ferry from Shimonoseki Harbor (下関港). It is famous for the duel between Miyamoto Musashi and Sasaki Kojirō. The small island was named for its boat-like appearance, and later became to be called the Ganryū kenjutsu school Kojirō had founded” (wikipedia)
During Golden Week (May 3-5) a small festival is held in honor of the epic duel fought between the legendary swordsmen Miyamoto Musashi (author of the Book of Five Rings) and Sasaki Kojiro known as the Demon of the West. They met in 1612 on the island which is now known as Ganryujima and when the duel was over Kojiro lay dead and Musashi was victorious. The actual details of the duel are debatable but the legends of it are very persistent. It’s said that Musashi purposely arrived late, unwashed, and carrying a wooden sword he had carved out of an oar on the way over – all of this to unnerve his opponent. Kojiro is said to have struck first but failed to cut Musashi down. Musashi smacked Kojiro on the head killing him or in the some versions finishing him off with a blow to the ribs.
And if you do pass through Shimonoseiki to get to Ganryu-jima, I recommend that the more adventurous of you try the “fuku” or Japanses blowfish. It’s the famous fish which can kill if not prepared properly, and rumour has it that chefs have to be specially licensed to prepare it, and that they have to try a piece every time they make fuku.