The Okinawa Grandmasters Edition

For the first time ever Belgium welcomed 4 Okinawan Grandmasters in a tour for the promotion of Karate in Europe.

The 2020 Okinawa Karate Grandmaster Tour in Belgium was a very successful edition from start to finish.

It started with a meeting with Flanders Minister of Sports Mr. Ben Weyts, a quick bus tour in Brussels and a lunch meeting with the Governor of the Province of Antwerp and her deputies.

During a mix of a historical walk and omiyage shopping in Antwerp we saw some Rubens paintings, drank an Elexir d’Anvers and admired the statue of Nello and Patrasche. In the evening we mastered the art of drinking “Le Chevallier” and payed a visit to “Manneken Pis” and “Jeanneke Pis”, two of the “must see” statues in Brussels.

On Friday we found “little Okinawa” in the Motobu-ryu Moidi Dojo of Hubert Laenen in Heultje.  The national Radio 2 station was present for an interview.

Afterwards there was a closed workshop in Leuven where the Grandmasters teached a selected group of high level budoka’s.  In the evening the delegation attended a reception in the historical town hall of the City of Leuven with the mayor and the Japanese Ambassador.

The first “public” seminar was on Saturday in Leuven. With over 200 participants the Grandmasters got to see for the first time how interested and willing to learn the Belgian and European participants are.

Over 200 participants from 17 countries and 3 continents received their “Guardian of Ryukyu” certificate on Sunday January 19th, 2020. The Guardians of Ryukyu seminar in Heist-op-den-Berg was the last seminar of the tour and it closed with an official dinner with the local mayor and aldermen in a medieval location.

Immediately after dinner the delegation left fort the airport to return to Okinawa. The local police commissioner even arranged for a police escort to bring the tour bus as fast as possible to the airport.

The Heist-op-den-Berg Hosts – Hubert Laenen, Chris Michiels and myself – would like to express their deepest and utmost gratitude to the Okinawa Prefecture and the Grandmasters for making this all possible.

Words can not describe how proud and honored we are to be the hosts of this event.

Domo Arigato Gozaimasu and Otsukaresama!