The mild fall weather of Canada’s West Coast was the perfect back drop for the fall Ryukyu
Kobudo Shimbukan Gasshuku held in Vancouver, British Columbia. Not only was this the first
Shimbukan Gasshuku held in the City of Vancouver, but for Canada as a whole. For Hiroshi
Akamine Kaicho, this is his second visit to Canada, with his first being twenty years ago when he
came on holidays.
Both Akamine Sensei and Kagemasa Yoshimoto Sensei arrived in Vancouver, weary eyed and fatigued, in the early afternoon at the Vancouver International Airport. William Chung, the
Chief Instructor for the Vancouver Shibu Dojo and the host for this event, picked them up and
took them home for a bit of rest. The best cure for jet lag was a good lunch and a trip to
downtown Vancouver for some sightseeing.
After a good night’s sleep, Akamine Sensei and Yoshimoto Sensei met up with Dell Hamby
Shihan from Switzerland and Jerry Holt Sensei from Minnesota, USA for a site seeing trip to
Whistler, British Columbia. Also joining us on this trip were Alice, Brittany, Garson; from the
Vancouver Shibu Dojo, Thomas Ruegge from Switzerland; and the Club mascot; Bullet, the Jack
Russell. En route to Whistler, we stopped at the Britannia Mine where everyone had a chance
to look at some First Nation’s art and the beautiful scenery.
After Britannia Mines, we headed over to Shannon Falls and savoured more of the beautiful
sights. Both Yoshimoto and Hamby Sensei found the perfect ray of light amongst the trees.
Shannon Falls is the third highest fall in British Columbia stretching up 335 metres.
The town of Whistler was the official site for the 2010 Winter Olympics. During the winter
months, it is transformed into a winter wonderland for skiers and snowboarders. In the
summer, the town is the place where avid mountain bikers take to the trails.
For Day 3, we began the day with a trip to Stanley Park. This is one of Vancouver’s most
famous sites. On this trip, we were also joined by Sandy, from the Vancouver Shibu Dojo, and
her husband George.
Ohh, did we mention that Yoshimoto Sensei really like trees? We also met a famous
Hollywood movie star, John Travolta, while we were there.
The evening was the first session of the gasshuku. The session began with kobudo training,
where Akamine Sensei went over some of the nuances of the bo basics.
The second session was karate oriented with Akamine Sensei providing instructions in Shorin
Ryu karate and how it differs from the mainstream Japanese karate. The session was well
received with it ending with a demonstration of the kata, “Seisan” demonstrated by the
Shorin Ryu-Tim Jurgens, Uechi Ryu-Dell Hamby, Shito Ryu-William Chung, Isshin Ryu- Jerry Holt,
and Wado Ryu- Bob Mooney
The day began with a trip to North Vancouver and a visit to the Lynn Canyon Park. Many of the
folks from the Lonsdale and White Bear Dojo also joined in on the trip and added to the
The evening was spent with everyone working on the bo and sai. Akamine Sensei spent time
with everyone reviewing their kata and providing expert advice to better their techniques.
In the morning, we set off to Granville Island, the public market area for Vancouver. Here
Akamine Sensei and Yoshimoto Sensei got a chance to see some of the craft stores and savour
some of the fine and diverse tastes of a multi cultural community.
The evening was spent practising the special weapons: nunchaku, tonfa, tinbe-rochin, and nicho
kama. Again, the expertise from the Shihan present was invaluable to all those that took part in
For Akamine Sensei and Yoshimoto Sensei, Day 6 was a day to catch up on some sleep. The jet
lag can be quite draining when one has to invest both physical and mental energy into the
teaching. So for the better part of the day, they both kicked back and relaxed and prepared for
the night time grading. For Yoshimoto Sensei, he needed to pick up some gifts for his students.
For those that weren’t aware, Yoshimoto Sensei and his wife, Setsuko, have their own dojo on
Kume Island, which is 90 Km from Naha, Okinawa. Yoshimoto Sensei found some Canadian
chocolates to bring home.
The evening grading session for the gasshuku was nerve racking for all the participants. The
early session was spent with a quick review of everyone’s mandatory kata. Then it was time for
the exam, starting with the special weapons, followed by the bo, and then the sai. Everyone
poured their energy into the test and they all did very well.
Congratulations to the following members in their grading results:
Shorin Ryu Mukenkai: Dan Bellig-3rd Dan, Sam Murray-3rd Dan, Bob Pettitt-Provisional 3rd Dan,
and Ryuka Jurgens-Jun Shodan
Ryukyu Kobudo Shimbukan: Tim Jurgens-6th Dan, Jerry Holt-3rd Dan, Thomas Ruegge-3rd Dan,
Kyndell Harkness-2nd Dan, Denise Buss Callen-2nd Dan, Alice Chung-2nd Dan, Brittany Chung-2nd
Dan, Bob Mooney-2nd Dan, Sam Murray-Shodan, Jan Marie Andersen-Shodan, Greta Hittner
Bennett-Shodan, Raiden Chung-Shodan, Johnny Hermann-Shodan, William Joe-Shodan, Sandy
McLaughlin-Provisional Shodan, and Gerry Van Gaalen-Provisional Shodan
Day 7 was a full day workshop. This was a session that catered to everyone’s ability from
beginners to advance kobudo practitioners. This session covered basics as well as kata for the
majority of the weapons in our syllabus. Akamine Sensei also taught bo versus sai and
demonstrated the techniques of the latter as an effective weapon. Also present at this session
was Mario McKenna Sensei and his students from the Ryukyu Kobudo Shinko Kai. Don
Shapland Sensei and Norm Losier Sensei from Ryukyu Kobudo Tesshinkan also dropped by to
say hello to Akamine Sensei.
After the session, we headed to a Korean Restaurant to celebrate Akamine Sensei’s 30th
birthday…hence, we brought out “two” birthday cakes…
With the Gasshuku over, it was time for everyone to relax and enjoy their visit to Vancouver.
For Akamine Sensei and Yoshimoto Sensei, this was an opportunity for them to enjoy a bit more
of Vancouver’s sights like Gastown, Chinatown and Queen Elizabeth Park. This was also an
opportunity to catch up on a bit of shopping.
This day was also Thanksgiving Day in Canada. To celebrate this event, it is a tradition to have a
nice turkey dinner. So Alice Sensei and some of the Vancouver students prepared a nice
Thanksgiving dinner at William Sensei’s home for Sensei.
The last day of visit for Akamine Sensei and Yoshimoto Sensei were spent eating a lot of food.
The city of Vancouver is truly a diverse community offering some of the best cuisines the world
has to offer. The night was capped off with a visit to La Casa Gelato, an ice cream parlour that
boasts to offer over 218 different flavours of ice cream.
Day 10 marks the final day in Vancouver as we see both Akamine Sensei and Yoshimoto Sensei
off at the airport. At the conclusion of the first Shimbukan workshop in Canada, the students
from the Vancouver Shibu Dojo want to thank all those that took part. A special thanks to all
the Shihan and Sensei that traveled great distance to attend and support this event. And to
Akamine Sensei for sharing his knowledge and techniques in Ryukyu Kobudo with everyone in