Karate Training in Japan

Posted by Dave Wollard

Karate Training in Japan


It was quiet, deathly quiet save the chatter of the local forest animals. The morning mist hovering low to the ground. you could not even see your face. Suddenly in the distance, there was a shadow. Ever so slight. A tree? A deer? A man….Suddenly a hush fell over the forest and all went quiet. The morning fog began to part and the shadow became human! It was……………….Oh, sorry. Just the early morning haze in Tokyo. Slipped off into some sort of warrior’s dream.

While in Japan giving the lecture to ER nurses I also had the opportunity to train at the head dojo of the Nihon Karate Kyoukai (JKA-Japanese Karate Association). In past years the most powerful and well known of the Karate organizations in Japan, recognized by the Ministry of Education. Their new dojo was not initially what one might expect given the international reputation of the JKA and its history of producing some of the leading exponents of Shotokan, like Nakayama, Osaka, Enoeda, Kanazawa, Mikami, Ueki, Ozaki, Nishiyama and of course the legendary Tanaka. It was outwardly a small building of 4 stories scrunched between two other buildings on an alleyway. The taxi driver had a most difficult time finding the location even with written instructions and color maps all in Japanese!

My schedule allowed only one day of training, but it was a monumental day for me, as I was actually able to meet the legendary Tanaka Sensei within the first few minutes of being there. I also met Yamamoto Sensei who spoke a good bit of English and was most polite to both me and my wife. I had spoken with Naka Sensei prior to my trip and he had given me a schedule of training, but something had gotten “lost in translation” and I missed the first class of the day, but was able to video part of the class. There was a group from Australia who had come for a week to train. Shina Sensei worked their tails off! Nemoto-sempai was also assisting. Drill after drill, kick after kick, form after form. The snap of each punch, each kick, and the sound of the kiai. An awesome scene. After their class, they bowed out in the apporpriate way and cleaned the dojo floor before departing.

My wife and I then took a train to the area where I could go to Champ Video, which is THE place to go for karate videos in the Tokyo area. I go there each time I go to Japan. I spent a few hundred dollars on books and videos and visited with my contacts there, then we took the train back to Idobashi for the afternoon class taught by Nemoto Sempai. It was a small class which I liked. All in Japanese of course. There was one other gaijin from Scotland there with whom I trained. Again, basic after basic. Punches, kicks and honing our technique. Going through kata (forms). And then class was over. Too soon. We bowed out and cleaned the dojo floor.

I was very sad that there was no more time to train, but my wife was tired and it was getting late with a little more than one hour train ride then walking to the hotel.

It is an experience I will never forget. I hope to go back soon and train again. Even with 4-dan ranking in other marital arts and brown belt in Shotokan, it was still very hard work!

I hope others interested in martial arts can train there at some time, not because their instructors are better, but for the cultural enrichments!

Dave Wollard, R

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1 Comment

  1. anna

    A very inspiring trip to Japan related to martial arts, has always been my dream. Thanks for sharing all your experiences for all of us. Please keep sharing such nice articles.


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