By Jenifer Tull-Gauger


On our first morning, our group of almost 20 karateka went to the beach, which helped alleviate a little bit of the humidity and heat.  But this was not to be a day of rest, as we had planned.  This was to be a grueling day of kata.  We were on camera for Tokyo TV, representing the Alliance.

West Texas Karate – Bushu Kan people were already by the water training when I got there.  We filtered in and joined them in kata.  Being adjacent to the ocean helped alleviate a lot of the heat, and the wind erased the humid feeling.  Our sweat was swept away, and we didn’t realize how much water was evaporating out of our bodies until later.

We did our kata in order: see below for video links to some, many thanks to David Wray, one of our gracious hosts, for the video.  You can hear and see the wind – how it blew my hair in my face (even though it was tied back).  On several moves, sand got kicked/blown into my eyes, either by myself or the others around us.  It was difficult to move and balance in the soft, abrasive sand, while fighting the physical exhaustion that was coming on stronger by the minute.

We took a drink break under a nearby gazebo and realized how dehydrated we were getting.  The shade canopy helped a lot: it made the heat go from unbearable to stifling.  (I learned on this trip that Arizona really does have a dry heat, even on our most humid days.)  My husband the Boyscout shared some energy-drink-hard-candy he’d bought at the grocery store.  Those helped replace our electrolytes.  Marty Rhoades Sensei showed us what looked like light scrapes on his ankles, apparently from jelly fish when he’d waded into the water.

We quickly got back to kata training.  When we’d finished the five Pinans, Kaicho asked for a volunteer to do Passai.  I think everyone felt like me – I could do the kata, but the flesh was weak, and I was hesitant to perform in my body’s current sub-par state, especially on camera.  Kaicho stepped up himself and demonstrated.  Next, he asked for Kusanku volunteers, and we were all in survival mode at that point, I don’t think it got done.  Don’t judge us as lazy black belts until you’ve walked and flown and trained the thousands of miles it took to get to that point in Okinawa, at the end of June.  The lesson here: Know your limits.

When kata practice was done, we were happy to grab ice cream and/or cold sodas and drinks from the beach’s vending machines, before swiftly moving off to our next stop, Chibana Castle/Uhugushiku tomb.


Naihanchi Shodan:

Naihanchi Nidan:

Naihanchi Sandan:

Tomari Seisan:


On to Okinawa trip #3