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Richard Sensei’s Corner: Being a Japanese overseas home stay Karateka 海外ホームステイする空手家になる

JKFan karate magazine 2010 #5

The fifth article in the monthly Richard Sensei's Corner series is about being a Japanese overseas home stay Karateka. Since my main topic is only printed in Japanese in the magazine, the English version may be read here on my blog -just scroll down!

My bilingual interview this month is with Mark Waterfield is the Coach of Buntoku Gakuen Junior & Senior High School Coach in Kumamoto City. Originally from Canada. Mark has extensive experience competing at the Canadian National Championships and numerous international events.


今月のバイリンガル・インタビューはマーク・ウォーターフィールド氏は熊本市にある 文徳学園中学・高校空手道部のコーチです。もともとカナダの出身で、カナダ選手権大会や数多くの国際大会で試合をしながら経験を積んできました。

To order this month's magazine go to JKFan's order page!

Article 5 Being a Japanese overseas home stay Karate-ka

One of the great advantages about Karate relates to the many Japanese style associations having numerous overseas branches. For the Japanese Karate-ka, these connections provide excellent opportunities to see the world, make non-Japanese friends, learn foreign languages plus experience Karate in different countries.

The best way to take advantage of these connections is to find a home stay family through one’s own style association. Normally utilizing the personal friendship between a Japanese instructor here and a non-Japanese instructor overseas is the key as the Japanese instructor can make an introduction to the foreign branch.

For example, in my former Canadian dojo, if I received a request from a Japanese Karate-ka who wanted to come to Vancouver, I would find out how long they wanted to come for and what they wanted to do. If they are coming on a 90 day tourist visa, they probably wanted to travel around. If they were coming on a student visa for 6-months or 12-months, normally they were coming to learn English at one of the many English language schools. Many Japanese also received a 12-month ‘working holiday visa’ which allowed them to work as well.

With this information, I would offer the opportunity to be a host family to my club’s members. Normally several people would be interested because many Canadians enjoy accepting home stay guests.

In terms of Karate, the Japanese Karate-ka is normally warmly accepted into the overseas branch dojo as most members are happy to meet someone from their own Japanese style association. When any Japanese Karate-ka visits, everyone sees Japanese Karate for real in the flesh, making everyone more curious about Japan. This is motivating for the Japanese Karate-ka too because people are interested in them right away which helps them make friends and learn the language faster.

Like many countries, it is important as a home stay guest to realize is there is no ‘one Canadian culture’. Canada is made up of numerous cultures because it is a country of immigrants and First Nations, so a home stay family could be Italian-Canadian, German-Canadian, or in Vancouver where 50% of the population is Asian, it could be Chinese-Canadian. This is a bonus for Japanese home stay Karate-ka because they can experience not just typical Canadian culture, which includes eating maple syrup on pancakes and watching ice hockey on TV every night, but also seeing how immigrants have integrated into Canadian society while also keeping their own identity. It's is successful immigration policies keep the Canadian population from shrinking.

One of the great bonuses for Japanese Karate-ka visiting Canada is that not only can they compete in the local tournaments, but they may try out for provincial teams and thereby compete at the Canadian National Championships! While their results at the Nationals will not qualify them for the Canadian Team, the reason for this unique policy is for Canadian athletes to get more tournament experience with foreigners.

Home stay families and the overseas branch members normally become lifelong friends with the Japanese they host. Therefore being a home stay guest truly creates a precious international dimension to one’s life, which of course helps bring the world closer together.