Our first night in the hotel was great, comfy bed, silence and SPACE! My alarm went off at 8am, as I needed to be up and at the port for diving at 10am.

I quickly grabbed breakfast from the lounge and also a few shots from my rooms balcony, as it was now daylight… stunning view!

Since i’ve owned my own kit for diving, I’ve become a bit of a diving snob and need to wear my own kit. I can only compare it to wearing someone else’s shoes, it just doesn’t feel right and you can never get comfortable. This is the reason why I brought the extra case, as its a lot. So I trundled off with my case to the car and headed out for the 15 minute drive to the port where I was meeting a guy called George from Sunkissed Divers.

Scuba Diving

I arrived about 9:45am and shortly after so did George, with 2 other ladies from Singapore who would be diving as well. It was nice that it would just be the 4 of us, as some times the groups are so large you spend 20 minutes faffing about on the surface before a dive.

I signed all of the usual PADI paperwork and begun to setup my gear. We then loaded it onto the boat we were taking (and about 20 other snorkler’s). The 1st dive would be a cave dive into the Blue Cave at Okinawa, it wasn’t too deep anywhere from 5 to 10 metres, which also meant it would be warm, as I only had a shorty wetsuit on – it turned out to be 23 degrees in the water, so very comfortable.

During the dive we saw lots of fish as you would expect, but the dive through the cave made it even better, especially when we turned around and were coming back out with the daylight above you.

After the first dive we returned to the shore for a change of air and a drink drink/wee break. We would go back in for our 2nd dive about an hour of surface time. the 2nd dive was in a different location, but had some great canyons we could swim through, it was also slightly deeper at 15m, but on this dive we got to see a turtle, which made the whole dive worth it.

After the 2nd dive it was time to pack up and get away, so I grabbed this quick photo with the 4 of us.

Hotel Pool & Beach

After diving I headed back to the hotel to see what Mick and Tony had been up to… turns out not a lot! I took some photos around the resort and found Mick and Tony loitering around the pool, they’d spent their morning on the beers and in and out of the pool. I decided to have a quick dip myself and then hit the indoor pool as it started raining, where we found a steam room and a Jacuzzi, yes please!

Shorin-Ryu & Kobudo Lesson

It wasn’t long before we had to get ready to leave for Naha to get to the Shorin-Ryu/Kobudo lesson I had arranged. I think the day on the beers and sun had taken its toll on Mick and Tony, so they bailed out on me and I was going solo! The drive its about an hour to Naha from where we were, so I had to leave at 5:30 to make the 7pm lesson start time.

At this point the heavens had opened and it was raining hard! I parked up in Naha where I was told and headed over to the Dojo, the Asato Dojo. James Sensei met me at the door and invited me in. He gave me a tour of the dojo and allowed me to take some photos of his great setup… I was very jealous! It also turns out James ran the Dojo Bar which was a famous bar for martial artists visiting Okinawa, but sadly had to close it during COVID. Lets hope it reopens one day!

The lesson was adults only and the other students began turning up. There was a mix of grades, 3 yellow belts, 1 green and 1 brown… then me an out-of-his-depth black belt. We bowed onto the mat and started the lesson with a kneeling bow. The lesson started with running through the different sets of basic moves in Shorin-Ryu. The stances were a big difference, as you are mainly upright and there isn’t much of a visible stance, its very fast moving and relaxed, the aim is to be close to your opponent and in control of the situation.

After a few basics I was melting, the dojo in Tokyo was hot, but added with the humidity and that it was 6 degrees hotter in Okinawa my Gi was drenched within minutes. We then moved onto some Kata and I got to run through some of the Shorin-Ryu kata’s which I believe there are 3 main ones that they practice (I may have that wrong).

Finally James Sensei was kind enough to incorporate some Kobudo into this lesson for me, as I really wanted to have the chance at some traditional Okinawan Kobudo using a Bo (Bojitsu). More often that not Shorin-Ryu has Kobudo built into its syllabus as well and its common for both to be practiced. After some Jo training with Sensei Paul Grimsey, I felt confident I wouldn’t look like an amateur… but I did! The moves were very similar to what we had been doing with the Jo, it was some of the different hand positions I struggled with. I obviously need more practice!

I absolutely loved the lesson and all the students were so accommodating and willing to partner with me. I especially loved the partner work with the Bo, theres just something about hitting 2 sticks together! James Sensei was excellent at explaining what he was doing at every stage in Japanese and English (Just for me). James Sensei originally is from the UK having grown up in Somerset and then Watford and we’ve both had the joy of working in Luton. He decided to study more into martial arts and did a degree over in Tokyo in Japanese, which is where he met his Okinawan wife and then moved to Okinawa when they had children… apparently he didn’t want them growing up in Watford (I can’t blame him).

He was kind enough to have a photo with me at the end, also signed my licence and in return I handed him an ESKA badge for his ‘wall’ which I signed. So now we have a little piece of ESKA over in Okinawa.

It was now nearly 9pm and I hadn’t eaten since a pack of crisps and a salad when diving. So I headed out into Naha to find something local I could munch on… Gyoza it was! The below was a set meal and my was it lovely. After food I headed home for some much needed rest, ahead of an early start tomorrow.

Click here for the next post: Part 10


Sensei Steve

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