Interview with Mike Spain of Japan Karate Institute Wadokai, Chiang Mai
Property Type: Karate
1. Who is the dojo’s founder and what prompted him/her to build the school? Is there any rich history behind its making?
Mike Spain learned karate in Kona, Hawaii, USA, under Roy Woodard at Nippon Kokusai Karate Center, which was an affiliated school of Kiyohisa Hirano’s Japan International Karate Center in Honolulu, Hawaii. When Sensei Roy moved to Alabama to take over the Southeast Region of JIKC, Mike became the Kona instructor.
In November, 2000, Mike moved to Chiang Mai, Thailand, to live. In searching for a Japanese karate school in Chiang Mai, Mike had no success. So he joined the Chiang Mai University Aikido Club. One day Mike noticed a young man teaching karate to another young man in the same area that the Aikido club was practicing. Approaching the young men and inquiring, he found that the young man teaching karate spoke English well. In further inquiry he found out that this man had been a high school exchange student to the USA. When the young high school student was in South Carolina, USA, he joined Dale Coker’s Japan Karate Institute, which is also an affiliated school of Japan International Karate Center. Mike offered to help the students since he was more advanced in the Japan International Karate Center organization, being a Nidan, or 2nd degree Black Belt in Japan International Karate Center karate.
After contacting Dale Coker, Mike found out that Sensei Dale would be visiting Thailand. To make a long story short, Mike began teaching karate in Chiang Mai under Dale Coker’s Japan Karate Institute in 2002.
In October of 2003, Mike tested and was awarded Sandan (3rd degree Black Belt) in the
Japan Karate Institute/Japan International Karate Center organization.
Realizing the relationship of Aikido’s movements and principles to what Mike learned under Roy Woodard, he embarked on a quest to learn more about Wado Ryu karate. Indeed, Kiyohisa Hirano was a student of Hironori Ohtsuka and in fact was part of the group, including Hironori Ohtsuka, Tatsuo Suzuki, and Yoshio Kawaguchi, which Walter Nishioka had arranged to visit Hawaii to demonstrate Wado Ryu karate in the early 1960’s.
In 2007, Mike visited Robbie Smith’s New Zealand Wadokai and practiced under the JKF-Wadokai vision of Wado karate. Fortunately, this was as a result of also attending Toby Threadgill’s Shindo Yoshin Ryu workshop which Robbie Smith was sponsoring in
Hamilton, New Zealand.
Later in 2007, Mike was fortunate in contacting Richard Mosdell who arranged for Mike to visit and practice at the Shiramizu Dojo of Sensei Takamasa Arakawa in Sugito, Japan.
In February, 2008, Mike returned to Shiramizu Dojo where Sensei Takamasa Arakawa, Richard Mosdell, and Lawrence Liang, along with all of Shiramizu Dojo, helped Mike prepare to challenge the JKF Wadokai Shodan examination in Tokyo. On March 2, 2008, Mike successfully challenged and passed the Shodan examination.
And now the quest and journey continues…… Japan Karate-do Federation Wado Kai karate at Japan Karate Institute, Chiang Mai.
2. What forms of Japanese martial arts do you teach in your school? Can you please share with us the history behind them?
At Japan Karate Institute, Chiang Mai, we practice the style of karate known as Japan Karate-do Federation Wadokai, For short, JKF Wadokai karate.
As indicated by the name, this vision of Wado Ryu karate is recognized by the Japan Karate-do Federation as one of the four main traditional karate styles of Japan.
Wado Ryu karate was formulated by Hironori Otsuka. Mr. Otsuka was well versed in Shindo Yoshin Ryu jiujitsu when, in the early 1920’s he watched a performance of what became known as karate. This performance was led by Gichin Funakoshi, the person that formulated what became known as Shotokan karate.
By melding together techniques, ideas, and principles of Shindo Yoshin Ryu and Shotokan, Hironori Otsuka made his style of what became known as Wado Ryu Karate.
3. What are the principles and concepts that you uphold and try to instill in your students?
Class Ceremony : This is performed at the beginning and at the end of class.
Purpose of Seiza – Orderliness and humbleness to the mind and body.
Close eyes, mokuso. Purpose of mokuso -
(beginning of class) Warming up the mind for training hard.
(end of class) Warming down the mind after training hard.
(Open your eyes)
Purpose of JKI training – Not to conquer others, but to conquer the weaknesses within oneself.
We do this by following 5 Dojo Precepts:
1. Uphold the Principles of Propriety and Courtesy
2. Cultivate the Spirit of Effort
3. Perfect a Mind of Patience
4. Live the Way of Truth
5. Do Not Lose Self Control or Act in a Violent Manner
3 Basic Factors for Mental Strength
- Try hard
- Never give up
3 Basic Factors for Mental Attitude
3 Basic Factors for Relationships With Others
The class ceremony is very important to Japan Karate Institute training. Each person must overcome the weaknesses within themselves so that they may live a good and harmonious life for themselves and with other people. We must discipline our minds and bodies so that we can do what is necessary to accomplish these goals and all other goals in our lives. The teachings of the class ceremony will help guide us on the right path. The guidance of the words in the class ceremony are more important than any physical technique. Indeed, by following the thoughts of the class ceremony it will help in improving physical technique along with mental strength, attitude, and discipline.
4. Why do you think it is important for people to learn martial arts?
BENEFITS OF KARATE TRAINING
Discipline the Mind and the Body
Health – Promote and maintain strong bodies and minds
- Body Fitness
- Weight Control
- Improve cardio vascular efficiency
- Make strong minds
- Improve focus
- Learn self control
- Build a strong spirit
- Increase will power
Learn to make good choices, and the conviction to say ‘no’ when offered bad choices
- Increase self-awareness
- Build confidence
- Make a person with good character
Recreation – Sport
5. What difficulties and obstacles have you encountered so far with regards to teaching martial arts and how did you overcome them?
Teaching martial arts in Thailand has been difficult because I cannot speak Thai. I have benefitted by having Thai students that can speak English and help in translation.
6. What advise and/or insights can you share with our readers who want to pursue their interest in the Japanese form of martial arts?
Anyone who wishes to pursue a Japanese form of martial art should do so. Do not have fear or doubts. Persevere and don’t give up.
7. Can you give a short biography of your instructor(s)?
1991 : Started training in Nippon Kokusai Karate Center (JIKC) under Sensei Roy Woodard, Kona, Hawaii.
1992 : Assist Sensei Roy Woodard instructing at Nippon Kokusai Karate Center, Kona, Hawaii.
1993 : Earned Shodan in JIKC karate.
1993 : Instructor at Nippon Kokusai Karate Center, Kona, Hawaii
1996 : Earned Nidan in JIKC karate.
1997 : Chief Instructor, NKKC, Kailua-Kona when Sensei Roy Woodard moved to Alabama to takeover JIKC, Southeast.
2000 : Moved to Chiang Mai, Thailand.
2002 : Start teaching JIKC karate under Sensei Dale Coker’s Japan Karate Institute to students at Chiang Mai University (not affiliated with CMU)
2003 : Earned Sandan in JIKC/JKI karate.
1992 – 1996 : Nippon Kokusai Karate Center Academy of Instructors
1994 & 1995 : Coach for JIKC-Kona team to USA-AAU National Karate Championships.
2007 : One week training at Robbie Smith’s New Zealand dojo and attend Toby Threadgill seminar.
2007 : Two week training with Takamasa Arakawa at his Shiramizu Dojo in Sugita, Saitama, Japan.
2008 : Trained with Takamasa Arakawa at Shiramizu Dojo in preparation for challenging the JKF Wadokai Shodan examination. Successfully passed and awarded JKF Wadokai Shodan certificate.
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