In September 2018, representatives of Taichokun Singapore, led by Dominic Lim, visited Okinawa and were warmly received by Sensei Hanshi Tetsuhiro Hokama (10th Dan Goju Ryu) of the Okinawa Gojuryu Kenshi Kai Karatedo Kobudo Association. During our time in Okinawa, we had a chance to understand the unique culture of the Okinawans and its relationship to Chinese culture.For example, we learned about the origins of the word karate. The character “kara” 唐 means China, and “te” 手 means hands. Interestingly enough, karate seems to be a bridge between both cultures. Kungfu was spread to Okinawa from Fujian, China, where it developed into karate.
Yet, it was through our training with Sensei Hokama that we were able to see the similarities between our two arts. This further reinforced our view that Okinawan karate and Hokkien kuntao, such as Taichokun, share the same roots.
Goju in Okinawan means hard and soft, and training for both was done. The hard part of the training seems to derive from Chinese taichokun/luohan, while the soft segment is closer to Fujian White Crane.
We were honoured to train with Sensei Hokama, and training in karate at his school opened new insights in our own training. From conditioning to practising techniques, the Okinawans still preserved the traditional way of training, which is very similar to the methods employed in Hokkien kuntao.
After the training, we were pleasantly surprised with a celebration by Sensei Hokama and his students. Dominic Lim had the honour and good fortune to experience real Okinawan cuisine, side-by-side with one of the greatest masters in karate!
We thank everyone at Kenshikai for the amazing hospitality. It was great fun training with you all. We hope to see you soon, and please come to visit us in Singapore!