MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII --
Japanese students from the Nippon Sport Science University, founded in 1891, flew from Japan to hold a free demonstration of traditional Japanese performing and martial arts for Marine Corps Base Hawaii at the Semper Fit Center, Feb. 13, 2014.
This was the school’s second annual demonstration to introduce Japanese arts to Americans, and MCB Hawaii was chosen this year because of its relationship to the country, with those serving at military bases in Japan, and for those Marines who played an important part in the wake of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami.
More than 130 students and representatives of the university displayed a variety of talents in areas like kyudo (Japanese archery), aikido (weaponless self-defense), judo, sumo, Nihon buyo (classical dance), karate, shorinji kempo, naginata (long-handled sword), kendo (fencing) and wadaiko (drums).
The university is Japan’s leading school in physical education and sports, and is focused on developing a sports culture and promoting the Olympic movement. There are two campuses, located in Tokyo and Yokohama, Japan.
Lt. Col. Robert K. Maldonado, the commanding officer of Headquarters Battalion, gave opening remarks, welcoming the crowd and thanking the university for performing.
After a drum performance and dance, the students began with kyudo, which focuses more on the manner before the shot rather than the shot itself.
The students then showed their skills in martial arts, like aikido, judo and sumo. Judo is now a popular sport, practiced in 200 countries and an Olympic sport since 1964. Sumo is the national sport of Japan and has the longest running tradition among the martial arts. A match between a NSSU karate athlete and a local karate champion ended in a tie.
The members of the crowd were invited to the mats to receive short lessons in judo and sumo exercises by the student athletes.
Pfc. Donovan Eberlein, a rifleman with Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, and a native of Kokomo, Ind., said his platoon sergeant told him about the event and he wanted to go because he likes watching fighting competitions.
“I wanted to come and compare UFC to this event,” Eberlein said. “It was great to watch, and I would say this is more artistic, but still very interesting. I could see Marine Corps Martial Arts Program moves during the karate exercise. My favorite part of the night was when the (local) athlete karate match happened. It’s good to be able to experience other cultures like this.”
After the crowd returned to their seats, the event continued with kendo, considered the most important art form for bushi, or Japanese warriors.
The students performed more dances and drumming, then the crowd was again invited to the floor to this time participate in a traditional Japanese dance to the song, “Tokyo Ondo.” The students showed everyone how to perform the dance.
Maldonado said it was very interesting to see true Japanese techniques.
“This event was a great opportunity for MCB Hawaii and everyone to come out and experience the Japanese culture through their performing and martial arts. We are lucky to have this chance.”