Hajimemashite. In Japanese, this means “it is a beginning” and would be used similar to “nice to meet you” when greeting someone for the first time in English. One of the things that amazes me every time I go to a martial arts tournament is how many new people I meet that share this unique interest with me. Since joining Maine Traditional Karate in 2016 I have had several opportunities to participate in various events. Most recently my family and I attended the Battle of Maine in Waterville and the Warriors for Life Tournament in Dover-Foxcroft. Every time we go we see familiar faces and we also get to meet new people from Maine, Canada, and several New England states.
As martial artists that train regularly with the same dojo members every week, it can sometimes feel like we exist in a silo. In a rural area like Maine it can feel even more so like our community is a small splinter apart from everyday society. Within the OSMKKF, we have our nearby fellows in the Orland Karate Dojo under Sensei Stan Leach to connect with, but we are many many miles from a lot of our other sister dojos in the US, Okinawa and South America. Our fantastic leaders such as Hanshi Shipes, Kyoshi Engelby and Kaicho Isao Kise visit us annually, and our dojo black belts travel afar to connect with the federation on a regular basis. We have access to a rich culture with a modern organized martial art deeply rooted in ancient traditions. This experience travels thousands of miles directly to us!
It is important to regularly step back and see the larger picture. We exist, not in a silo, but in a community that spiderwebs across the area connecting in more ways than one. Our style of Okinawan Shorin Ryu shares roots with many other martial arts going all the way back to ancient China. When I participate in these tournaments, I see so many connections between our styles by observing the other participants. Yes, each art is distinct in how it operates and where it places emphasis in its materials. But there are so many basic principles tied together throughout our styles and it feels like we are apart of something so much bigger when I notice these elements.
Much like our common roots in martial arts, the people involved are everyday citizens like you and I. I’m not the most social person, but I have met so many people by regularly going to these tournaments that we recognize each other in the other communities we are a part of. There’s an undeniable sense of fellowship you find by connecting with others, regardless of rank, style or dojo. I would highly recommend everyone take a chance and find their own “Hajimemashite” moments. Take a chance on meeting new people and doing new things. Karate is a journey with many beginnings, and most of those are well after you are fitted into a gi with a fresh white belt around your waist.
For the Battle of Maine, dojo members Sempai Josh Curtis, Gabe Curtis, Zen Taylor, Nikolas Long and Mikel Leighton stepped on the floor to represent MTK. At the Warriors for Life Tournament we had Sophia Santiago, Jessica Fortier Leighton, Logan Leighton and Mikel Leighton on the floor. Everyone performed and represented both dojo and Sensei Steve admirably. Thank you to the participants and the dojo family that came to support everyone!
Results for individuals can be seen by clicking on their profile photo in the MTK Dojo Members page.