2007 Year End Report
2007 has been busy for the United States Honbu. The year began, as it always does with the “Akamine Eitsuke Sensei Tsuitou Embu Taikai” held in Florida. Students from across the US and Canada attended. And, those who could not attend trained privately at their home dojos in honor of Akamine Sensei’s memory. The 2008 Taikai will be held on January 13th in Satellite Beach, Florida.
The first quarter of the year saw us turn lemons into lemonade. First, the lemons. Rising Suns Productions released the “Akamine Eisuke” DVD, with out so much as a courtesy contact with the Akamine family, or the Okinawan or U.S. Honbu dojos. However, while investigating the source of the material, we were able to reconnect with Clarence “Taiju” Lee, a long-ago visitor to the Akamine Sensei’s dojo. While never a formal student of Akamine Sensei, Sifu Lee considers him a highly respected teacher and strong influence.
Rick Wong, a student of Sifu Lee, set up a visit between Mr. Lee and myself, Dometrich Sensei’s West Coast representative. The visit went very well and I am happy to report that, while there are certainly differences in the waza, it is clear that Sifu Lee learned our kata well. Future visits should only serve to strengthen this tie with a long-lost family member and his organization.
Given the strong demand for a DVD re-release of “Taira Shinken: Father of Kobudo”, initial work began on this project. In addition to updating the VHS release, the new DVD was planned to also address Akamine Eisuke Sensei’s life and work. However, those projects have been put on hold at the request of the Okinawan Honbu. We understand there are some changes and updated information from the Okinawan Honbu and are certainly interested in working with them to deliver the best, most accurate historical work possible.
Dometrich Sensei’s Kihon DVD series remains very popular. As always, Dometrich Sensei strongly emphasizes that no DVD can replace a qualified and committed instructor, but she has seen the value the DVD provides serious students as a reference. Currently, the Kihon series is very much a home-grown product. In 2008, we will begin work on updating this series with a more professional production and look for the most appropriate way distribute this high-quality instructional support material.
Finally and most importantly, Dometrich Sensei continues to travel the United States and Canada teaching over 1800 students in over 50 dojo across the country. As Akamine Sensei before her, Dometrich Sensei places the greatest emphasis on sound waza as the foundation of good kata and therefore an overall understanding of the fighting concepts which form our art. Ever the tough taskmaster, Sensei is happy with the progress of most of the students she sees in her Shibu and Doko Kai. Most students are progressing with solid, combat-effective waza and, their kata are coming along as a result.
One key measure of success is the growing appreciation among her students that Kobudo is a martial art, which, while complementary to karate, is also a separate and distinct discipline. This is an important milestone, particularly in North America. Unlike Okinawa, students and teachers here often see weapons training as an interesting bit of “fluff” on top of their existing karate curriculum. By spreading the word at dojo across North America and at special events like the annual Martial Arts Symposium and the Arnold Classic, Dometrich Sensei is changing the way Americans and Canadians think about Kobudo and, in the process, bringing new students to the art with each dojo visit.
In closing, on behalf of Dometrich Sensei and all of my kyoudai in the United States and Canada, I wish everyone in the organization, from Akamine Kaicho to the newest person in the dojo, a happy holiday season and a safe and prosperous 2008.
Douglas A. Daulton
Ryukyu Kobudo Hozon Shinkokai
Beikoku so Honbu
International Communications Representative