Off to Okinawa to spiritual home of karate

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From Oamaru to Okinawa – Peter Newberry is off to the spiritual home of karate.

He is visiting the Okinawa Islands, south of Japan, as a guest of Terry Hill, a New Zealand karate master who has been invited to Okinawa.

Prominent Okinawan karate practitioner Morio Higaonna, who was a “national treasure” of Okinawa, wanted to see Hill before he died. They had had a close relationship when Hill fought in his younger days.

A fifth dan at the Oamaru Goju Ryu Karate Club, Newberry was appointed to the position of “kambukai” in 2017 with Goju Ryu Karate Do New Zealand.

There are eight kambukais in New Zealand – and they were all invited to Okinawa by Hill.

Newberry will attend a five-day seminar and other dojos around the island, meeting the masters of different disciplines of karate.

“It will be a really personal tour, I will just be in awe at these guys.

“No matter what these guys say it is from the horse’s mouth.”

In a way, he said he would be representing New Zealand karate and helping forge connections between dojos here and in Okinawa.

“Most people think that karate is Japanese, but it is from Okinawa,” Newberry said.

“The word karate is a very modern word, it was made up in the 1900s.

“All the karate styles are based off Naha Te – Naha is the city in Okinawa.”

Newberry said he always wanted to visit the islands and this was the perfect opportunity.

He will also go to a major martial arts seminar and train in several disciplines.

“If you put it down to the nuts and bolts, you are just drilling yourself in mixed martial arts, the same as cage fighting.

“The only difference is one is a drill and one is reality.”

Once the group finishes its visit to Okinawa, it goes to Japan to follow the historical trail of Japanese swordsman Miyamoto Musashi.

Newberry said martial arts were all about being better every day, and he was looking forward to passing on what he learnt in Okinawa to his students in Oamaru.

He leaves on Sunday and will be away for three weeks.