Seikichi Odo: A Master of Generations

It has been 12 years since the passing of the late Grand Master of Okinawa Kenpo Karate Kobudo, Seikichi Odo. In the Okinawa Kenpo ‘family’, the years may weigh on us with fear, pain,  joy and hope.  We have come so far since Odo sensei’s passing, yet it seems like yesterday when he was telling me to do my kata, “one more time.”

Okinawa Kenpo of Oregon

Seikichi Odo

I really thought my sensei spoke very little English. I felt sorry for him. Afterall, he DID keep telling me to repeat my empty hand or weapons form, OVER AND OVER,  by saying “one more time.”  LITTLE DID I KNOW there was something else going on…

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Call Me Kyoshi, Call Me Crazy

The debate in Okinawan Karate on rank, (read: I am a [enter the Japanese title describing black belt level], or senior student (read: I trained with this master for 2 weeks in Okinawa back in the 1980s, therefore I am a senior practitioner], or I trained under the guy who opened the first dojo in America, or other various ‘criteria’ people have created in the karate world to promote their marketing efforts of their school is so well…1980s.  

Okinawa Kenpo of Oregon

I loved this movie. I still do. It needs more fight scenes though.

Don’t get me wrong: The idea of having ranks in Okinawan Karate is awesome.  But what do they really mean?

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Misogi 禊: The Purification of Okinawa Kenpo

Since antiquity, the ritual of Misogi 禊 has been performed in Japan, the Ryukyu islands and all parts of Asia. In ancient times it was the Yamabushi 山伏, the ‘mountain hermits,’ that would perform such tasks as extended periods with no sleep, breath training and of course the infamous “standing or sitting under the waterfall in winter time.”  Ceremonies such as these,  represent the heart and soul of ancient East Asia that still finds it’s way into everyday circumstance.  Take for example the salutation of ‘How are you?” – in Japanese one would say ‘O genki desu ka?’ お元気ですか?  Note the word Ki in this common phrase. Ki  is the word for life force, life breath, vital air or energy in the Japanese language.  This is an example that underlies  how integral the world view of life force, energy and the soul are central in Japanese vocabulary.

Okinawa Kenpo of Oregon

Yes, that’s cold water. Notice the ice and snow next to him. Brrrr!

In the traditional ‘old ways’ of Okinawa Kenpo practice, I personally knew of many Okinawan karate sensei that would participate in such ceremonies.  I was lucky enough to study under the late Seikichi Odo.  He introduced me to several Yuta (Traditional Okinawan Shaman) which performed various ceremonies including variances of Misogi and their applications within Okinawan Karate.

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Bushido: The Way of the Warrior

Okinawa Kenpo of Oregon

Bushido

Bushido  roughly translates as “the way of the warrior.”

Bushido 武士道 originates from the code of conduct from the samurai.  It emphasized frugality, loyalty, martial arts mastery and honor. It is a maxim found in all martial arts. My sensei, the late Seikichi Odo was from an Okinawan dynasty of samurai.  This was a rarity within Okinawa as well as within the martial arts community.  The first use of the word  武士 (Bushi) was found in one of Japan’s oldest books, the 古事記 (the Kojiki-“The Record of Ancient Matters”) written in approximately 712 A.D.  What is most important is that the use of 武士 (Bushi) at that time also related to the concept of the ‘educated warrior-poet.’  Some people say that the days of Bushido 武士道 are extinct.

I don’t believe that. Neither should you. 

dojopractice

Bushido, the moral code of the samurai, took decades of organic growth.  Our dojo, Okinawa Kenpo of Oregon, keeps 武士道 (Bushido), alive in every dojo practice.

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On Ko Chi Shin 温故知新

温故知新 or “On Ko Chi Shin” roughly translates as “study the old, understand the new.”  It is a maxim found in all martial arts. My sensei would say “keep one foot in the past and one foot in the future.”  At the time he was referring to “a true” kobudo application of a defensive maneuver involving multiple assailants with implements of minor and mass destruction.  They say the old ways Okinawan Karate have been erased with time.

I don’t believe that. Neither should you.

Okinawa Kenpo of Oregon

Okinawa Kenpo “old school” style

AND NOW FOR SOME EXCITING NEWS…

Okinawa Kenpo: The Four Ways of Fighting

Okinawa Kenpo of Oregon


We practice a traditional style of Okinawan Karate that traces back it’s roots to the late 1400s.  The framed scroll you see at my acupuncture and medical clinic is the lineage chart that illustrates the genealogy of our karate system.

Okinawa Kenpo of Oregon

Naha Bushi Sakiyama lineage of Okinawa Kenpo

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Okinawa Kenpo: a complete system of self defense

Okinawa Kenpo, a complete ‘hard and soft’ system of Okinawan Karate, has a curriculum based on classical kata (empty handed forms) and kobudo (weapons-based forms).  In addition, there is a foundation that involves  rigorous body conditioning, a unique blend of nerve strikes,  “knock out” strikes, and an aspect  of bunkai which I call,  translational bunkai.  What  separates Okinawa Kenpo from all other karate is the long standing established use of the Bogu Kumite ‘Gear’ to allow for free form full contact reality-based fighting.

Okinawa Kenpo of Oregon

Kenwa Mabuni, circa 1925, wearing Bogu Gear.

Shigeru Nakamura introduced the world to the Bogu ‘Kumite’ Gear in 1923.  In 1925 he introduced the Bogu equipment to what was known as Siam, (now known as Thailand) and introduced the Bogu Gear to Indonesia and Malaysia in 1927.  Historical records show that he had several prototypes that his uncles were developing around the turn of the century.  Shigeru Nakamura, felt that the system that was later to be called “Karate” was not rigorous enough in its training methods and that new training methods and equipment needed to be developed.  Shortly before he was made the next head of a Ryukyu Ti lineage that traced its roots back to the late 1400s, he pursued this endeavor and thus creating the Ryukyu Islands version of ‘mixed martial arts.’

Okinawa Kenpo of Oregon

Shigeru Nakamura, my teacher’s, teacher.

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