From 28 July to 11 August 2018, Reece Cummings – head instructor of the Cummings Karate Dojo (Karate Canberra) – travelled to represent Australia at the 1st Okinawa Karate International Tournament in the birthplace of karate, Okinawa Japan, along with over 2,000 other participants from around the world.
The tournament, held as a joint initiative between the Okinawan Government and Society for the Advancement of Traditional Okinawa Karate (Okinawa Dento Karate Shinkokai), was promoted as a way for practitioners to deepen their understanding of traditional karate.
The Tournament which was attended by participants across more than 50 countries went over four days, and was coupled with two days of seminars run by Okinawa’s highest ranking instructors (sensei) who ran various training sessions.
Reece Cummings, who has been teaching karate at his dojo in Mitchell for nearly 10 years and practising karate for nearly 20 years, entered the tournament’s largest category – the male ages 18-40 traditional shuri-te kata division – which had nearly 200 competitors.
Reece was successful in placing equal 2nd in his Qualifying Round on day one with a score of 41.9/45, putting him in the division’s top 21 and automatically advancing him to the Tournament’s Main Rounds on day three. With tough competition in the Main Round, Reece was eliminated with an extremely close result of 3 to 4, meaning he did not advance to the next round, but placed him in the top 32 competitors out of nearly 200.
While a significant experience, the Tournament was not the main purpose of the trip.
“Each year, I visit Okinawa and every second year I take a group of students to travel and train with our Okinawan sensei, Master Toshimitsu Arakaki, one of the island’s highest ranking karate instructors. This year nine students of varied experience levels accompanied me on the trip.” Reece said.
The training part of the trip consisted of a minimum of four hours training per day – two hours in the morning and tour hours in the evening – meaning the students were exposed intensively to not only the physical training of karate, but the mental, cultural and historical aspects, too.
“Karate is not just about the physical skills – it’s about taking the traditional martial arts and applying it to the modern world. Students not only increase their fitness, they build confidence and discipline.” Reece said.
The instructors and students are looking forward to their next group trip in 2020, where they will also watch Karate be displayed at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics for the first time ever.