Monday, August 20, 2007

The Internship Explained...

Each year, a new Canadian becomes the Shiramizu intern for 12 months to teach English to the dojo students while becoming absorbed into the world of karate! As well, the intern gets to experience all the ancient to super modern aspects of today's Japan.

The Shiramizu Karate Club is run by Takamasa Arakawa (no relation to Toru Arakawa). Shiramizu teaches the Japan Karate Federation (JKF) Wadokai association's vision of the Wado-Ryu style. The JKF Wadokai is one of the largest karate associations, with thousands of branch clubs in Japan, and several hundred around the globe. It is considered part of the main four JKF associations along with the JKF Gojukai, JKF Shitokai and the JKA.

The intern application process takes place annually with applications being sent to the Shiramizu Agent (me) to be reviewed with Arakawa Sensei. The new intern is chosen about 6 months prior to arrival to allow them to prepare for their trip, save money, etc.

Why Canadians only? Shiramizu has a strong connection with the official Canadian Wadokai group (Canadian Zenkuren Wado Karate Association), however in future Wadokai members from other countries may be invited to apply.

A typical group of karate kids having fun in front of the camera in a Shiramizu English class.

To date, there have been 3 interns. Mark (Aug 2005-2006), Paul (July 2006-2007) and now Lawrence (July 2007-2008).

The simple background on the internship starts in 2001 when I met Arakawa Sensei in Canada when he came to visit for seminars with Hideho Takagi Sensei of the Guseikai club fame. (Actually he remembers meeting me in Tokyo in '93 or '94, but I was so new to Japan then I don't recall). I again saw him that summer in 2001 in Japan during the Kenzen Vancouver club's 3 week trip. I was very impressed with his abilities, his positive nature and his keen desire to promote karate in a responsible manner.

In 2004 when I got married in Japan, I finally visited his dojo and was again very impressed, especially by how he ran a professional club. The enthusiasm of all the members young and old, plus the efficient way the club operated, inspired me to study on a daily basis how Arakawa Sensei puts the whole karate club package togethed.

By the end of the year I gave my Vancouver dojo over to my students and we moved to Japan where I started going to the Shiramizu dojo almost everyday, in addition to several others. From April 2005 I began teaching English classes for the kids after my regular coaching work in Tokyo, and we arranged to have Mark from my Vancouver dojo come to Japan in August to take over most of the classes for me. And that's how the internship took off.

Mark at his August 2006 Wadokai dan test in Chiba prefecture.

Mark at the North Tokyo 39th Annual Karate Championships.

2005 Wadokai World Cup Canada team and supporters, with Head Coach Reza in the middle. Norma took the picture I think, which is why she's not in it.

Paul, Mark and myself with the high school/adults English class in August 2006.

Mark with myself, Arakawa Sensei and Kikuchi Sensei as he leaves Japan at the end of his internship on August 14, 2006.

Paul sweeping an opponent off their feet at the 40th Annual North Tokyo Karate Championships, November 3, 2006.

Paul and myself, relaxing after a good day sometime in the spring of this year.

The current intern Lawrence and myself will try to post things of interest as time rolls along. If someone wants to know more about something related to Shiramizu or karate in Japan, feel free to ask. We'll try to reply to your inquiry or at least point you in the direction of someone who can.


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