Richard Amos is a karate teacher, and a life-long student of karate, who is virtually peerless in a number of ways.
Not only is he one of the very few foreign who has been through the instructors training program of the Japan Karate Association (which is a feat of herculean proportions), but taught alongside many of the great master instructors of the JKA. In explaining Amos-Sensei’s role, position, and impact on Shotokan karate to my wife, Kazuyo, I jokingly compared Amos Sensei to being the David Bowie of Shotokan. While in comparison, I would be like bassist of Whitesnake, Neil Murray, who is discoverable only on Facebook.
Here are a few links to get a brief insight to the man, his career, and his position in the karate world:
Amos-Sensei and I have been in touch with each other over the years, and I have always found him to be very personable and knowledgable, both in equal measure. He has the uncanny ability of being completely relevant in his own karate discovery and growth, particularly as he heads a major karate organization that is all over Europe and North America, and also maintains strong human connections with karate teachers in various groups all over the world. My own karate teachers, even 20 years ago, described Amos-Sensei’s karate technique as “sublime”. He is the real deal.
A heavily sought after instructor, guide, and resource for Shotokan karate, Amos-Sensei has been a steady source of energy and inspiration for many karate students. One might think that he would have an overly bloated opinion of himself, and the significant following he has, but from the moment we met on the train platform at Takamatsu Station I could sense right away that within all that history, years of training, wealth of experience, deep connections all over the world, he was also a very kind, thoughtful, and humorous man.
We started the day with coffee and the group storing all the unneeded bags in the station coin lockers. Then we took a bit of a stroll down to Ritsurin Garden. It is a little far away, but after an overnight trip on the sleeper train, Seto Sunrise, we figured the group could use some time to stretch out their legs.
Ritsurin Garden was quite nice, as usual, and the group could take in the historical and natural beauty of the area. Amos-Sensei and I had a chance to visit and get to know each other a little and the other teachers scattered around to soak it all in. A few managed to get into one of the tea houses for green tea too.
Following the garden we decided to head out to Yashima. A brief taxi trip there and we were on the plateau overlooking the Seto Inland Sea. We enjoyed the museum, but agreed that more information was needed about some of the items inside in English, and then headed down towards the famous udon restaurant Waraya. We ordered far too much udon, but it was a unique experience nonetheless. This was real Sanuki dining in a very old and original udon restaurant, a must-do when coming to the heartland of noodles.
After that, the group was in need of finding their hotel rooms, getting a bath or shower, and then we regrouped later for dinner. We located a fairly good izakaya nearby and everyone could get a much needed dinner, complete with beer and a few curious dishes as well.
By the end of it, the group was pretty tired. It had been a long ride from Tokyo to Takamatsu, and Ritsurin and Yashima, while spectacular were just enough walking around for one day to ensure a deep sleep that night. We said our goodnights and then parted ways.
On the taxi ride back to my house I was thinking about how incredible it really was to have this particular group of people coming to visit Kagawa-ken. Between the nine members of the group there were a couple centuries of karate training. A lot of blood, sweat, and tears were put into the creation of this unique group. Nevertheless, despite the hardness of this kind of training, within each member of the group was a kindness and a consideration that I thought was remarkable. Easy-going, humble, willing to learn, interested, curious, and gentle… to my own experience of being a young man growing up on the dojo floor of Taniguchi-Sensei, who personifies all these virtues I respect, I felt an immediate kinship and recognized something beyond the punches, kicks, blocks, and movements that we have in common. Karate can make good people, and here they were.
Next blog: Otemae and Zentsuji!