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Winner Takes All Rodeo bucking its way to Okinawa

Date Posted: 2004-10-28

American style rodeo is coming to Okinawa City November 6th.

The Okinawa Bull Riding Association (OBRA) and Okinawa City International Association (OCIA) will be hosting the “Winner Takes All” Rodeo Competition at the Okinawa City Bull Arena. The event promises to be a day of fun, competitions and prizes for both kids and adults—as well as bull ridings by several American and Japanese riders.

The Okinawa Bull Riding Club began August 15, 1998 by a group of bull riders and rodeo enthusiasts at a local hangout called Whiskey River. With facilities and equipment for rodeo virtually non-existent, early members put their back into searching, buying, and sometimes building from scratch materials that could be used for their cause. The dream of bringing American rodeo to Japan was under way.

Within two months, the new organization rented three bulls, built a chute, and acquired necessary equipment to conduct bull ridings. Only a month and a half old—on October 3, 1998, the Okinawa Bull Riding Club wrote history by producing the first bull riding event in Japan at the Agena Bullfighting Arena in Gushikawa City at the invitation of the Gushikawa Bull Fighter’s Union.

With membership growing steadily, the group changed its name to the Okinawa Bull Riding Association in December 1998. Shortly after, in May 1999, the group picked up its first Japanese members.

A lot of work goes into preparing for a rodeo. Before the rider and bull can be unleashed, certain preparations had to be made. Rosin has to be thoroughly rubbed onto the bull rope to give the rider a better hold. The riders also spend a great deal of time stretching and getting focused mentally. All of the equipment is also double-checked to make sure there is no risk in harming the animals. After this is accomplished, the bulls are brought out for a quick runaround.

The bullfighters spend some time riling up the animal by grabbing its horns, yelling, and running past it to stir up aggression as well as warm up the bull’s muscles so they don’t cramp up on center stage. Finally, after all this is accomplished, the rider mounts the bull, the gates swing open, and the rest is intensity as the rider attempts to earn points by showing skill in his ability to ride the bull.

Spectators of all ages can get involved—and possibly win some cash in the process. In one event, “Money the Hard Way”, a ribbon is tied around a bull’s tail. Whoever is able to get the ribbon wins the prize. There will also be a kid-sized version of this game called “Calf Scramble” for children ages 5-10, and the OBRA is working on getting a pig for even younger kids. In another interesting game called “Bull Poker”, four poker playing competitors are set in the middle of the arena. A bull is unleashed and whoever has the guts to stay seated the longest takes the pot.

Four Japanese, one Okinawan, and several American riders will be participating in the “Winner Takes All” rodeo competition. A very multi-cultural event, organizers are urging the public to turn out and show support for the Okinawa Bull Riders Association.

Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for children, and free for kids under five years old.

For more information on the OBRA or to learn how to get involved, check out www.rodeojapan.com or contact Chad Leblanc at krzykjun23@yahoo.com or T.J. Mobbs at usdevildog20@yahoo.com.

Driving to the rodeo is very easy. From Kadena Gate 2, drive straight and turn right at the first stoplight for highway 23. Drive straight, pass the Okinawa Expressway Entrance #4. You’ll see part of the expressway overhead. Drive under it and turn left at the next stop light. The Bull Arena is up ahead. If you missed the turn and can see Kadena Gate 5 on your right you went too far.

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