We just returned from a weekend in Toronto to celebrate the opening of Tony Gibson-sensei’s new dojo, Ryu Shin Karate Dojo, and participate in the accompanying seminar featuring WMKA President Yoshitaka Taira-sensei, who’d traveled from Okinawa, and Shigehide Akamine-sensei of Argentina. Also in attendance were Matsubayashi-ryu practitioners from New York, Ohio, and Florida, as well as many seniors including Frank Baehr-sensei, who introduced Matsubayashi-ryu to Canada nearly fifty years ago.
The last we saw Taira-sensei and Akamine-sensei was in 2000, at the WMKA World Seminar hosted by our parent dojo, Matsubayashi Shorin-ryu of Little Tokyo. At that time they accompanied the second Matsubayashi-ryu headmaster, Takayoshi Nagamine-sensei, as well as Yasuharu Makishi-sensei, both of whom have since passed on.
During the closing dinner, we were all treated to an extra-special surprise as Taira-sensei presented Akamine-sensei with a certificate pronouncing him 9th Dan, Hanshi, thus making Akamine-sensei the highest ranked Matsubayashi-ryu practitioner in the Americas and Europe. It was a rare and moving experience to witness such an honor bestowed upon a true gentleman and exemplar of our art.
In all, it was a memorable weekend of training and camaraderie, and a true celebration of the spirit of Matsubayashi-ryu. Congratulations to Tony Gibson-sensei and all the best for the future success of Ryu Shin Karate Dojo. Thank you for sharing the occasion with us. Ganbatte!