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Marines get shot at learning karate

Date Posted: 2009-01-23

A karate clinic sponsored by the Japanese Foreign Ministry and the U.S. Marines to promote a deeper understanding of Okinawan culture was everything organizers hoped for, and more.

Some 200 Marines assigned to the Camp Kinser-based logistics group participated in lectures on the spirit of Okinawan karate, as well as its basic “kata” noncontact exercise. The exercises were led by local martial artists, including the 2008 women’s world karate champion.

“Karate is suited to build discipline,” an Foreign Ministry official based in Naha said, “as well as mental and physical training.” He said the goal was to help Marines be more attuned to local culture and channel energies into other activities than committing crimes.

“They hve natural aptitude, probably because they’re well trained,” says Tsuguo Sakumoto, who led the instructors throughout the clinic. Sakumoto, a professor at Okinawa Prefectural University of Arts, said he was impressed with the speed with which Marines picked up on karate techniques. He volunteered to give Marines a chance “to train intensively with me.”

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