On Friday, December 23 (a national holiday), over 300 Shiramizu students assembled at a local recreation center gym to participate in the last practice of the year. At the end of the practice was the annual '1000-punches' (zenbontsuki). Not only was it a great practice for everyone, but those students who did well in competitions, from local to the national championships to the Asian championships, received special gifts of recognition.
Afterwards many of the core adults had some good fun at the year-end party (bonenkai), a very important event for all companies, schools and of course karate clubs in Japan. I'm sure everyone have many bonenkai to attend due to different commitments. (This is different from the shinenkai, the beginning of year party in just a few weeks - sweet!)
It's truly been a unique year, very topsy-turvy from the triple disaster on March 13, to the 2nd full-time dojo opening in Satte City, to multiple interns coming and going, to the internship being reset again for 2012.
As things have gotten back to normal, I think it's amazing how Shiramizu has continued to grow and be vibrant, both in getting new members, in current members deepening their traditional knowledge of Wadoryu karate plus in members now growing up to be adults who are achieving great things in different competitive leagues (high school, university and adult) plus moving up the dan ranks.
For visitors coming to sleepy Sugito City where the head dojo is, about one hour north of Tokyo, probably no one would ever think such a small place could produce so many members creating a vibrant, active club run by professional karate instructors. As I think about all the professional instructors I have known over the past 25 years, while many have had one or two very good strengths as an instructor, no one has been as well rounded as Arakawa Sensei, nor as consistent day after day, year after year, at teaching and promoting, not to mention event hosting, in such a positive manner. I myself as a pro coach concede this fact, but that's why I still learn from Arakawa Sensei, and that's why so many people come to visit the dojo. No one is perfect, but the infectious energy for karate here at Shiramizu is great to experience.
Happy New Year to our many, many readers. We wish you all a great 2012. Look for the intern blog to again be very active over the new few months. Plus we also look forward to all our visitors again showing up, which I think starts with quite a few people coming from Canada in just a few weeks.