Wayne Joseph’s Blog

Running with the Big Dog

Karate Sensei Speaks Softly, but Carries a Bamboo Stick

Karate Sensei, Richard Nakano

“Speak softly, but carry a big stick,” former American President Teddy Roosevelt said.  The Rough Rider motto also comes from Richard Nakano who has been teaching karate in Waimea for the past 42 years.

Nakano has taught thousands of people the art of karate for more than four decades and his method of instruction has varied according to the temperament of each student.

Yes, karate is an art, not a sport, as this writer quickly learned while interviewing Nakano Sensei.  “We don’t place a heavy emphasis on competition, instead our emphasis is on character building,” he said.

Nakano also provides his students with a history lesson on the art of karate which is largely based on Nishioka Shihan’s (founder) Karate history.

“It is important that the students learn the founder’s history to truly appreciate our unique style of Karate; Modified Shorin Ryu,” he said.

  The soft spoken Nakano takes a no nonsense approach to teaching karate and believes in using firm discipline should the situation arise.

“Each person is a little different and I need to teach to their individual learning styles,” Nakano said.  “I have a big split bamboo stick and I show it to all my students and have used it on a few.”

Former student, Steve Morifuji, can attest to Nakano’s strong discipline style as he had on occasion felt it on his head.

“He should have awarded me the bamboo stick after all those years, as I’m sure it still has part of my scalp on it,” Morifuji said, with a wide grin.

The 70 year old Nakano Sensei has been teaching the modified Shorin Ryu style of Karate since 1963 and has been the head instructor for the International Karate League, Waimea Branch, since 1968.

“I actually got my start in learning karate while I was attending the University of Hawaii,  at the Manoa Campus,” Nakano said.  “I met an instructor who got me interested and I was recommended as a student.  Back in those days you needed to be recommended in order to take martial arts.”

During his career as student and instructor Nakano has emphasized character building and discipline as well as self-defense in his training facilities.

“He encourages goodness and decency in his students to ensure that the skills learned will only be applied in self-defense,” Morifuji said.

Nakano believes that only students of good moral fiber should be evaluated with a physical and mental examination test, for possible promotion to a higher rank.

Since the inception of Nakano’s Waimea Dojo in 1968 the Sensei has kept one session free of charge and another session where students are charged a mere $5 per month.

“We don’t do this for profit,” Nakano said.  “We charge a nominal fee when we use the church because we need to pay for rental space and we make it free when we use the county facility because it’s free for us to use.”

“Nakano Sensei has been donating his time and experience willingly for the betterment of the youth and adults in this community,” Morifuji said.  “His passion is to see that proper techniques are passed on to students who have good moral character and become productive and responsible members in our communities and citizens of the world.”

Reviewing notes of an interview of Nakano Sensei that son Brit conducted for a term paper, Morifuji, despite being a disciple of the bamboo stick, recently nominated Nakano to be inducted into the Big Island Sports Hall of Fame. 

“We felt the Nakano Sensei was very deserving of getting this honor and took it upon ourselves without telling him beforehand,” Morifuji said.

The BISHF selection committee also felt that Nakano was well deserving of being inducted into the BISHF’s 12th class and will honor him along with six others at the wall unveiling at the Prince Kuhio Plaza at 10:30 am on August 22.

Along with Nakano the BISHF will also honor Mo Mathews, swimming; Harold “Russian” Furtado, track & field;   Manny Veincent, outrigger canoe paddling;  Ruth E.K. Walker, Aikido; Hamilton Manley, basketball;  and Francis “Bo” Saiki, baseball/softball; at the induction ceremony followed by a luncheon at the Nani Mau Gardens at noon.

Anyone interested in attending the luncheon ceremony is asked to contact Ellsworth Fontes at 935-5519 or Ellsworth Custom Cycles at 969 Kinoole Street.  Cost is $20 for adults and $15 for children ages 10 and under.  Tickets must be purchased at least four days in advance as there will be seating is limited.


August 16, 2010 Posted by | Profiles | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment