Rugby World Cup 2019 brought me to see Itosu-kai family in Japan from Ireland
Soke Sakagami and Karen Dolphin from Switzerland
Getting the chance to train in Japan is always an honour. This time I took the occasion of the Rugby World Cup to meet up with old friends and the Itosu-Ryu Family.
From a spectacular opening ceremony, packed stadia and fanzones, record broadcast and social media figures to superb action and emotional scenes in Kamaishi, it was a spectacular start to Rugby World Cup 2019.
Asia’s first Rugby World Cup delivered unforgettable moments as ‘rugby mania’ has gripped Japan – never has a host nation been so engaged. Japan seized its moment to shine on the global stage as a special opening ceremony attracted universal fan and media praise, wowing a sell-out Tokyo Stadium crowd with a blend of Japanese and rugby history.
Between Rugby matches I took the opportunity to train in different dojos around Tokyo. I was delighted to be able to train in the Honbu dojo under the guidance of Soke Sakagami again. Being able to train in the hombu with Soke is always very special for me. Its like coming home to the centre of our karate world and really ground me in my practice, giving me so much motivation for the next months.
Meeting old karate friends is always a highlight. Our Itosu family is a very special one, welcoming people back who you may not have seen for many years, the bond of our karate training is very strong.
Each time I travel to Japan I appreciate being able to visit Sensei Kitaoka’s dojos. I always learn so much and enjoy Many thanks for Ai Kitaoka and Ayumu Oda for their kindness also. Oda’s memory of the details of katas is amazing and I always learn so much from training together.
This trip I also went to train with my old friend Maiko Murata in her dojo. We had not seen each other since the World Championships in Malaysia in 2009, what a great example of karate bringing friends back together after 10 years. When you step into a dojo and train together it is like there was no long gap and everyone speak the same language …of karate.
My next trip to Japan will be for work on the special occasion of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. Karate will make its first appearance on the Games programme at Tokyo 2020, with men and women competing in kata and kumite events at the Nippon Budokan.
Karate's quest to secure a place on the Olympic programme dates back to the 1970s. In 2015, the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee proposed the inclusion of karate as one of five additional sports, a decision that was approved by the International Olympic Committee. Athletes will compete at the Nippon Budokan, the spiritual home of Japanese martial arts and a legacy venue from the Tokyo 1964 Games. I am sure this will be an exciting time and one karate will remember for ever.
With Sensei Suzuki and members of Hiyoshi Branch in Yokohama
With Sensei Kitaoka and the members of Sho Karatedo Club in Tokyo