Return to Miura Sensei’s Shofukan Dojo

On June 8, 2012
Over the weekend, I got the chance to return to my karate dojo to train with the Miura family. I have been on an extended hiatus, due to work for AJET and my board of education, but with that behind me, I have time for serious study again.

My teacher, Miura-sensei, is 83-years-old, a 9th degree black belt, and the highest ranking master in Itosu-ryu style karate in the world. We train in a dojo that is attached to his home, where he lives with his wife, two adult sons, one of their wives and grandson. They are the most incredible people, and I am so fortunate to be a student there. Training at their home is undoubtedly one of the things I enjoy most in my life in Japan.

Practicing karate in Japan is such a unique experience, and completely unlike the experience one would have in America. Japanese martial arts culture, in general, isn’t driven by profits and has nothing to do with running a business, advertising classes, or being an instructor’s main source of income. Usually, karate and other martial arts in Japan are practiced by people as a casual hobby in a private group. There’s good points and bad to this, but as far as Miura-sensei is concerned, this fact results in someone of his wisdom and stature not being as widely known or having the notoriety that he would have in America.

I truly believe that this is a great example of how the intangible goals of the JET Programme can be realized. Someone from a completely different culture can come here, become a part of a community that’s the same, but different at the same time. They can see the differences and learn from them, have introspective moments during that time, and use what they learn throughout the rest of their life. They can actually further the understanding of other cultures with people all over the world. If you’re like me, you believe that intercultural understanding can make the world better for everyone.

I’m sincerely grateful to Miura-sensei for giving me opportunity, and creating an environment which I’m able to reflect on and recognize these things. Because of his acceptance of me as a student and a foreigner, he has unknowingly become a participant in internationalization that could likely be known by many, many more than me. To that end, I say to him “ありがとうございました!”