The All Hawaii Kendo Championships

Waiakea Uka Gymnasium, Hilo, Hawaii

November 23, 2002

By Kathy Nekomoto with excerpts from the biographies written by Arnold Fukutomi

            The Big Island, the youngest but largest island in the state of Hawaii and well known for it’s friendly people became the setting for the All Hawaii Kendo championships on November 23, 2002.  It was held in the early morning at the Waiakea Uka gymnasium on the gentle slopes in Hilo. 

            This championship tournament was very special due to its dedication to two sensei’s instrumental in keeping the art of kendo alive on the big island.  President Arnold Fukutomi opened the tournament with a dedication to Sensei Atsuo Nishioka of the Hilo Hongwanji dojo and Sensei Charles Narimatsu of the Hilo Kobukan dojo.   A brief biography follows.

            Sensei Atsuo Nishioka will celebrate his 80th birthday in 2003 and it also marks his 67th year in kendo training.  He began training at the age of 12 years old in kendo and attended mandatory Japanese language school after a regular English school curriculum.   In his first six years in kendo, Nishioka Sensei learned that kendo is built upon the development of the fighting spirit, respect for one’s teacher and others, loyalty to parents, sponsors and the country.  Though successful in competition, he later chose to de-emphasize winning as the goal to training and instead he chose to focus on character building.

            He later joined the infamous 442nd Infantry Regiment and shared the many hardships with his nisei companions.  Out of this experience arose the belief and confidence that he could do anything if he tried and he was as good as any man. 

After returning from the war, he continued his success in his occupation with the state department.   He returned to kendo training in 1964 and continues today as the Chief Advisor to the dojo.  His son, Sensei Owen Nishioka, now operates the dojo.

            Sensei Charles Narimatsu began kendo training at the age of eleven under Hikiji Ichiro Sensei of the Hilo Shobu Kai.  His feeling about kendo was that it develops awareness and the keen reflexes of the eye, mind, and entire body.  In addition, there is the stamina which comes through intense practice urging the body through exhaustion to attaining the feeling of “gambare” or power to endure, enabling one in daily living to accept life graciously and gratefully, with a spirit of helpfulness, humbleness, respect and compassion towards others.   Although Narimatsu  Sensei retired as chief Instructor, he still generously donates his time to the art and members, ensuring the future of kendo in Hawaii.    He truly is a living treasure.

            The honorable guests included the Honorable Mayor Harry Kim of the Island of Hawaii and Mr. Hisao Imazu, chief executive officer of the Kanidouraku Company of Japan.  Mr. Imazu came to present the grand champion with the perpetual trophy and a trip to Japan.

            The Chief Judge was Dr. Noboru Akagi Sensei and the Master of Ceremony was Carl Nakamura Sensei.   Sensei’s Curtis Nishioka (uchidachi) and Mark Nishioka (shidachi) demonstrated the Nippon Kendo Kata.   There was a goodwill keiko before lunch and an Iai-do demonstration by the Hawaii Kendo Federation Iaibu branch after lunch.

            The many participating kendo clubs were Aiea Taiheiji, Ainakoa Shiseikan, Hilo Hongwanji, Hilo Kobukan, Kenshikan, Kenyukai, Lihue, Mililani, Mitsune, Myohoji, Wahiawa, and Waipahu Seibukan. 

             The day was filled with excitement and the atmosphere friendly.   The awards were given and President Fukutomi ended the tournament with some closing remarks.

            The following are the results of the division winners:

Yonenbu Division

            1st place          Braxton Fukutomi

            2nd place        James Okada

            3d place         Audrey Pack

Shonenbu Division

            1st place          Riley Iyo

            2nd place        Cael Goodin

            3d place         Yukari Hirako

Seinenbu Division

            1st place          Colin Maruoka

            2nd place        Shem Kim

            3rd place         Karen Mejia

            3rd place         Gregory Gates

Women’s Division

            1st place          Roxine Kubo

            2nd place        Kathy Nekomoto

            3rd place         Karen Mejia

            3rd place         Kazuko Hirako

Yudansha 1-2 Dan Division

            1st place          Billy Kang

            2nd place        Eric Narimatsu

            3rd place         Gail Mejia

            3rd place         Elton Ushio

Yudansha Open Division

            1st place          Mark Kawabata

            2nd place        Andy Fujimoto

            3rd place         Roxine Kubo

            3rd place         Grant Matsubayashi

Kanidouraku Award

            Mark Kawabata        

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