||Seattle Branch, U.S.A. / April 2012
- Contributor: Andrew Crowder
Recent Outreach Activities by Seattle Branch
The Seattle branchrecently did outreach activities involving elementary school, highschool students, Western Washington University, and the Oneness Community of Seattle. We're always on the lookout for chances to reach out to the local community, and activities of this kind are the best way to let people know experience the philosophy and purpose of Shorinji Kempo training.
Demonstration for Japan Night at John Stanford International School
The Seattle branch gave a demonstration and offered elementary school students a chance to learn about Shorinji Kempo at the annual John Stanford International School (JSIS) Japan Night program on February 3.
John Stanford International School is the first public elementary school in Seattle to offer foreign language immersion programs. There are two such programs at the school, Spanish/English and Japanese/English. Each school day, students in these programs have a half-day instruction in English, and a half-day in the foreign language. Each year, Japan Night is an important activity for the school's Japanese / English program. There are food sales, games, cultural activities, and stage performances and demonstrations. The event draws parents of students at the school, and even neighborhood families, so is a good chance to reach the wider community.
Because two of the kenshi in our dojo are also students at JSIS, Seattle branch master Hiroshi Onaka decided to make them the centerpiece of the demonstration. These two kenshi, Takakura Yuhara and Hotaru Hasegawa, demonstrated techniques. About eight adults also took part in the demonstration. We all did kihon, and moving kihon. At the end of the program, students from the school were invited up to the stage and learned how to do uchi uke and shita uke. This proved popular, with some teachers and some parents joining the kids onstage.
At one point in the middle of the program, branch master Hiroshi Onaka also performed tan en techniques. He did this on the spur of the moment, because the program was moving faster than we had planned, and so there was a little extra time to fill. But this turned out to be a good thing, because his performance was one of the highlights of the program. As a couple of us explained to Onaka-sensei afterwards, US audiences, at this kind of event, always enjoy seeing "the boss" perform.
Class Supporting Japanese Camp at Liberty High
On March 3, the Seattle branch offered a chance for local high school students to experience the elements of a typical Shorinji Kempo practice. The event took place at Liberty High School in Renton, Washington, for 90 minutes on Saturday morning and was part of a daylong Japanese language "camp," during which the students were supposed to speak entirely in Japanese. Other activities offered during the day included taiko drumming and kendo practice. Seattle branch Assistant Branch Master Keiji Fukumoto made the connection with this group; we had done a similar event the year before at a school one of Keiji's sons attended.
The students were given printed copies of seiku, seigan, and shinjo, and were invited to recite them with kenshi as we did a true Chinkon-gyo. Mr. Ota, the consul general of Seattle, attended at our Chinkon-gyo and first part of kihon practice with these students. We moved on to kihon, and basic footwork, blocks, and punches, and then to moving kihon, and finally to a few basic techniques.
Towards the end of the event, students were able to watch a true application of some of what they had learned when Branch Master Hiroshi Onaka and Assistant Branch Master Keiji Fukumoto performed a brisk and interesting kumi embu, with some big throws and some fast exchanges of strikes.
Finally, Onaka-sensei gave a talk about the meaning of "bu" and also about the deep meaning of the word "okagesama." Putting this talk right after the kumi embu, when the students could connect these philosophical ideas with the "real" Shorinji Kempo, seemed to capture their attention and spark their curiosity.
Of course, we also practiced Tenchiken dai nana after this event. We finished this workshop after noon and we were so hungry and went to Dim Sum with all to make our stomach (onaka) happy
Remembering and Supporting the People of Northern Japan
The Seattle and Seattle University branches have also taken part in two recent activities to support the people of northern Japan and to commemorate their suffering. Two Japanese students, Mizue Aoki and Yuri Kumakura, from Western Washington University in Bellingham, WA, near the border with Canada, visited our class one night. They had connected with branch master Hiroshi Onaka at one of entrepreneurs' business study groups. The two of them were doing a school project to help the people of northern Japan feel that they had not been forgotten. Their project was to ask people to write on paper two things: the thing they valued most in their life, and the words of encouragement they wanted to send to the people of Fukushima. Then still photos or short videos would be taken of each person holding the sign they had made, and these pictures and videos cut together into longer pieces that would be posted on the Web. The URLs for these projects are:
- A message for Japan (Click here for YouTube Video)
- What do you value most in your life? (Click here for YouTube Video)
Onaka-sensei helped introduce these students to other communities such as the Northwest Zen Center, and Japanese Saturday school for further video shoots. We are happy to be a part of their projects to remember March 11 and to do something for others.
Memorial Service for Those Who Lost Their Lives March 11, 2011
On March 15th, the Seattle branch took part in an interfaith memorial service for the victims of the Northern Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. The service was held at St. Ignatius Chapel on the campus of Seattle University, a university affiliated with the Society of Jesus of the Roman Catholic Church. The service included opening and closing remarks from the branch master Hiroshi Onaka, a homily by Seattle University professor Jason Wirth, chanting from the Vietnamese Buddhist tradition, a brief address by Kosho Itagaki of the Japanese Zen tradition, and the chanting of the Mourner's Kaddish from the Jewish tradition. Ms. Aoki and Ms. Kumakura also attended the service and played a part of their video project..
Not just because of Kaiso 100th birth anniversary, it is our branch spirit to contribute to any local community service we can to enrich our life together. As Onaka-sensei reminds us, we always need to remember to be thankful to others; this is the meaning of Okagesama.
Andrew Crowder, 3rd Dan