Joel Reeves writes about Okinawa, Martial Arts and Health. With over thirty years experience he has lived and trained in Japan and Okinawa where he is a private student of Higa Kiyohiko at the Bugeikan dojo in Shuri. Author of 'The Karate-ka – A search for the old to understand the new' he currently lives in the UK and works as a Shiatsu Therapist specialising in injuries and stress related illness.

Kajadefu – The blossom and the bud


Last Sunday a trio of us gathered to begin rehearsing the traditional Okinawan dance ‘Kajadefu’. Sherry Sugita, Minami Gima and myself, first met at the annual London Okinawa Day celebrations and the idea of collaborating dance, music and martial arts was enthusiastically agreed by all.

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Okinawa Day 2016

Okinawa Day 2016 London

Thank you to the organisers, performers, support volunteers and spectators for making Okinawa Day 2016 another memorable event. In my opinion Okinawa Day 2016 was the best yet.

From the moment I arrived the atmosphere was charged and uplifting, with stalls selling delicious food, refreshments and products from Okinawa.

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High praise for ‘The Karate-ka’

Moving Zen - C W Nicol

I was pleasantly surprised today to find a comment on one of my Youtube videos from someone who inspired me to travel to Japan and train in karate. The comment was left a little over a month ago but as I rarely check in on Youtube it was discovered a little late!

In 1962 C.W. Nicol travelled to Japan and began training in karate…

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Tachimura Kusanku – Karate Kata

sakugawa no kon

This week I’ve mostly focussed my personal training around one form in particular. Tachimura Kusanku. There’s something in the movements I’m really ‘feeling’ right now and it’s getting to that stage when whole sections of the form are ‘opening up’ to reveal a subtle inner depth. It’s both absorbing and nourishing on a personal level.

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High kicks in Okinawan karate?

Miyagi teaching - kicks

“Does your style teach any high kicks?” This question came up in conversation last night, and the simple answer is “Yes, but not many.”

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Spring & reflections on why some karate teachers close their doors


“I really enjoy training with you. It’s like my teacher is an outlaw.”

At first I thought he said ‘in-law’, as if I were some kind of relation or extended family member, but the comment didn’t really make sense. Then I realised he’d said ‘outlaw’.

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Maai – Understanding timing and distance in martial arts


In martial arts the concept of maai is often explained a little like ‘controlling the striking distance’ in relation to two opponents. But it means so much more than this.

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Mokuso: “Karate begins and ends with gratitude”


Very often we hear the phrase “karate-do begins and ends with curtesy”, which, in the West, has largely come to mean ‘start and finish with a bow’. But I’d like to pass on something that my teacher Higa Kiyohiko impressed upon me, which I feel goes far beyond simply ‘paying respect, for respects’ sake’. It’s this, “At the Bugeikan, training begins and ends with gratitude.”

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Okinawa Ti kata?

“In its purest form Okinawa Ti has no kata. Not in the sense that karate has anyway.”

However as ‘Ti’ was blended with Chinese Boxing, to create karate there are traces of its techniques and strategies within some of the oldest karate kata still around. Particularly those of the Shuri-te line of influence.

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The two hands of Okinawa Ti

two hands of ti

“Most people assume that empty-hand combat comes before weaponry training. When in fact, the opposite is true.”

Ti, like karate, advocates using any part of the body as an effective weapon for self-defence. But the origins of Ti actually stem from its weaponry practice and are, in a sense, a direct extension of weapons usage, both in physical form and strategy.

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