Soke's Corner

September 1, 2010

Dear TKFI members and friends,

A very happy day to you.

I have finally acquired some time to write a few thoughts to share with you. It certainly has been a busy few weeks but very rewarding, fun and educational.

Our TKFI Nationals was very successful and probably the best quality competition ever. From preparation and planning to the competition, clinics and celebration dinners, the tremendous display of karatedo spirit and character was outstanding. Parents, athletes, coaches, officials and volunteers all had high praises for every aspect of our championship. Comments like, •I have been to many national championships but this one had the kind of atmosphere and quality that exceeds all others•, and 'the officiating was very consistent and fair and everyone seemed to work together for the benefit of the athletes•, made me proud of all of you who worked so hard in producing this kind of first class event. Many thanks to Danilo Torri Shihan, his wife Adelle and Alessandro and Sabrina, their patient and understanding children for a great job in undertaking this year's nationals.

Congratulations to all of you who participated as competitors, officials, coaches, volunteers, sponsors and spectators. Thank you for having trust in us and supporting our event wholeheartedly. Thanks to Gilvan Gentil Shihan and Juan Amaya Sempai from New York for their generous help in officiating our many divisions.

The staff at Trumbull Marriott was very friendly and helpful and made our stay there very memorable. Our thanks to all of you.

This year's nationals had an international flavor with the representatives from Italy, Spain, Brazil and Chile. What a wonderful opportunity for all of us to really meet and exchange language, customs, foods and of course karate with each other. Gracias, obrigado, arigato, grazie and thanks to all of you.

Special appreciation goes to Dave & Linda Roonie and children for hosting the Brazil team along with Irene sensei from Fresno. Your dedication and support has made lasting friendships and provided opportunities for many of our TKFI family members that could not have been realized without your help.

Grazie to Filomena and Ilio Divito, Shihan Danilo's beautiful bride's parents for opening their home to the Shihan Kai members and Senseis for a wonderful meal and great conversations. A traditional polenta dish by Fausto Arabi tested all the men's arms with the careful mixing technique necessary for the perfect texture. Ilio's special homemade wine added to the perfect touch for a tasty meal.

This year's gasshuku was, unfortunately too short, but nevertheless, a great learning opportunity. Our appreciation to Andrea Guarelli Kaicho, the president of the Association of Italian Kobudo of Okinawa, for sharing his knowledge of Matayoshi Kobudo.

Our Shihan kai meeting had all members present for the first time. Our meeting lasted through the wee hours of the morning but was laced with lots of laughter, translations and duncan doughnuts. Shihan Tony Mendonca directed the meeting and Shihans Ceci Cheung, Ivano DiBattista, Joan Gombau Ventura, Danilo Torri and Dwight Grover were all present. Giovanni Granados sensei was elected to serve as our newest member of the TKFI Shihan Kai. Congratulations •Gio Wakate•! We have the confidence that you will serve as an outstanding leader and to promote TKFI and Saito-ha Shito-ryu.

Other appointees who were also present at the meeting were Liz Satriano, Sofia Parada, and Jim Hamilton. Congratulations to Joan Lara Aguilera, Shodan-ho, from Spain and Danilo Torri, Godan from Connecticut, for passing your test at this year's gasshuku. Continue your karate journey with passion, dedication and class.

The New York City tour opened lots of eyes, especially for those that never stepped foot in a large city. A sense of amazement, awe and nervousness was easily seen as athletes got to see places like Rockefeller Center, Time Square, Wall Street, Ground Zero, the Statue of Liberty, Grand Central Station and the Empire State Building.

Next stop for some of the Italian delegation was the majestic Niagara Falls and Canada. A spectacular view of the power and beauty of water cascading, falling and misting was a sight never to be unforgotten. For the Brazil team headed by Ubiratan de souza Lima of Mirrasol, off to Grants Pass, Oregon they went with a 9 hour layover in Salt lake City. To break the monotony of airport food and travelers, Ubiratan Shihan arranged for a grand tour of the Mormon temple.

Arriving finally at Medford airport, they were met by Ida Saito and Robert Burstein Sempai. As for me and the Oregon team, our flights to Medford from JFK was cancelled. The next flight we were scheduled for was the next day. After a couple hours of patient negotiations, I was able to arrange a flight that same day by way of Memphis, Seattle and finally Medford (just for me as only one seat was available). Well not so fast in getting my hopes high. The flight out of JFK was delayed at the gate and by the time I arrived into Memphis, the last flight to Seattle had already said bye bye. I had a nice dinner at the Raddison that evening and finally arrived in Medford around noon the next day.

After getting reacquainted with everyone, shuffling everyone to the Bursteins• and our home was surprisingly smooth. Training at the hombu dojo was exhilarating and the BBQs at Bob & Shihan Ceci's beautiful mountain home, Sensei Jim & Misty's warm home with swimming pool, and Sempai Robert & Jaine's Wiliams Ranch home filled everyone's appetite. Thanks to our great hosts and a big gracias to Margaret Sundin Sempai for the use of her van.

The trip to the Crater lake National Park was uplifting as we rose from the hot valley floor to the cooler mountains surrounded by miles of evergreen forest. No place else on earth combines a deep, pure lake, so blue in color; and sheer surrounding cliffs, almost two thousand feet high. Lots of photos were taken.

The Hellgate Jetboat excursion was the best ever, even for Ida and I. Our guide Mike, the vice-principal at Hidden Valley High School made certain everyone on his boat got wet with numerous spins and sudden stops. Tiago and Sofia were drenched. The beauty of the Rogue River is hard to match, considering the air is so fresh, and the bald eagle and Osprey swooping beside the boat to clench the fish thrown by our guide. What a sight. We filled our tummies with the all-you-can-eat brunch complimented by champagne and apple cider at the beautiful and rustic OK Corral facility.

Time spent in the Rogue Valley is not complete without a trip to Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park. Established in 1929, this predominately old growth coast redwoods park is bisected by the clear and beautiful Smith River. The park has about 20 miles of hiking and nature trails, and although not known for the tallest redwood trees is the most unspoiled redwood park. Most of our Brazilian friends slept during the trip getting to the park. The winding road crossed into California and took about an hour and forty-five minutes from Grants Pass. Finally arriving and looking upward, and seeing with their own eyes, the huge trees stretching its arms toward the skies with a remarkable cathedral-like appearance, hushed and serene, it humbled everyone's soul. The coolness of the air was welcome to some and a bit too cold for others. Yet the spirits were high and soon it took eleven members with outstretched arms and clasping hands to surround one of the huge wonders of the world. The laughter and voices echoed through the brilliantly backlit foliage and settled with the many sounds secretly held by these majestic giants.

A quick stop to smell the Pacific Ocean's fragrance and to sink the feet into the firm sand had everyone running, picking up remains of crab and shells and leaving imprints of feet bearing the beauty of kata above. A huge redwood stump rested the tired but contented group for memories to take with each click of the camera.

Back at the hombu dojo for one final family gathering was a feast of good chow, even with spam musubi prepared by Crystal Takaki, Ubiratan Shihan's wife's look-alike. A huge cake arranged by Kimberly Marquez touched the Brazil team as it displayed their country's color. A hula dance performance by Ida Manuel and Herolyn was a special treat to all. The air was then filled by karaoke enthusiasts and students who still hide behind their shyness. Language was no obstacle and soon everyone was laughing, dancing and having a blast. A big thanks to our staff and Greg Bock, aka, Mr. karaoke.

Promotion recognitions were granted to Eder F. M. Redigolo, Shodan, Haysllan L. Possebon, Nidan, Naiane F. Martinez, Nidan, Crislaine A. Silva, Sandan, Rodrigo Fernandes, Sandan, Rafaela Ferreira Saes, Sandan and Tiago A. Pereira, Sandan. Congratulations and continue to serve all those in tremendous need in your town. You are a walking example of what TKFI stands for and I hope many of our members will be inspired by your commitment and dedication.

Thanks to God that everyone arrived safely home.

I am honored to have great leaders and dedicated members to help in our outreach program to spread what we believe karate was intended for. I pray that we will have many more years of wonderful experiences. God grant you many blessings.

Del Saito Soke

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