April 11, 2010
A golden moment
Today I won't dwell on bad news but rather remember a magic moment that reflects a little of the kindness and hospitality of the Okinawa people.
One day last week as our afternoon training session ended at the prefectural budokan (martial arts training faculty), we were hanging out in the adjacent park and beginning to think about returning to the hotel when a group of schoolgirls came by on their way to naginata training.
A naginata back in the day was a weapon, kind of like a staff with a blade on it. Women often trained in it to protect the home when the men were away. Today, naginata-do is practiced as a budo, or martial way of spiritual and physical cultivation. The metal blade has given way to wicker and bamboo.
They tried their English on us as we greeted them back in Japanese. I suppose they are used to Western karate pilgrims. We pointed to their naginatas and used our hands to ask for a demonstration in the park.
It didn't take a whole lot of persuading. They demonstrated several two-person kata or training exercise, giggled and bowed. We bowed, applauded and giggled as well and then we waved goodbye.
Just another day in Naha ...