5th November 2005 - Hawaii
I tend to get Karate withdrawal syndrome if I don't train, so before I went on my 20th anniversary holiday with Claire my wife I checked out if there were any local clubs.
I was pleasantly surprised to find a club in our association on the very island I was staying on. A couple of e mails later and I had arranged to be picked up at my hotel at 7am Saturday morning. (We only arrived Friday pm, not sure if the wife was too impressed, left her to go shopping)
Hawaii is known for its hospitality. Sensei Kim picked me up from my hotel and told me a lot about their club as we drove the fourty odd minutes to the dojo.
The dojo was at a local school, training outside but under cover.
Sensei Edward established his current club in close association with the local church after a few years rest from karate following poor health.
I think Kim was a little concerned that I may find the club a little too informal, the lesson starting with a prayer etc. The club did work to Hawaii timings and students arrived throughout the class.
I was trying to collect my thoughts about what I could say about my visit to Fujiwara sensei's dojo. I come from a church background myself, my father being a retired C of E priest ( not that priests retire really) Fujiwara Sensei (5th Dan) become the chief instructor of the JKA / Hawaii, appointed by his good friend Asai Sensei. Since turning to Christ at New Hope Mililani, Hawaii Sensei now wants his knowledge to glorify Christ. In Sensei's words " Jesus Christ : Chief Instructor - Ed Fujiwara : Instructor" Sensei has worked closely with senior pastor Mike Palompo to run a club for the community, that is designed to be fun, safe and uphold high Christian values. New Hope also have very high traditional Shotokan standards!
Sensei means teacher as most people know, but I read somewhere where one of the karate masters addressed an elderly Japanese man as "Sensei". His student asked what grade he was and from which association, only to be told that he had never been involved with karate. The term Sensei had been used because of the respect that the gentleman was held in by the Shihan.
It appeared to me that Sensei Edward had more to teach than Karate, he has a vast depth of karate knowledge that is evident in his teaching, but more than anything humility.
I could not have been made more welcome if I had been Asai sensei himself.
I like to think as Karateka we are one family.
I was talking to Sensei Keith Gullen from York last week and I said that it was difficult to put my finger on what I gain from training with our extended karate family, from Sensei Edward it has been inspiration in both my karate and in my faith.
After training Sensei took me to lunch and gave me a club badge which I will wear on the base of my Gi jacket with pride.