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DOJO BAR in Naha City – a bar for karate enthusiasts from around the world
post : 2016.12.12 18:00
People may think Chatan Town is the place to enjoy multicultural shops and restaurants but a certain bar in Naha City has a great international atmosphere. Located between Shintoshin and Kokusai Street, DOJO BAR is always full of visitors from all over the world. The bar's owner is himself a karate practitioner from England.
The outside may look mysterious… But, once you step through the door, the atmosphere is warm and welcoming. Owner, James Pankiewicz wanted to create a space with “laid back feeling.” He is very friendly and DOJO Bar is an enjoyable mix of dojo and authentic British pub.
The bar is not just for karate lovers. Everyone from locals to tourists have a great time in this bar. Some people just enjoy the communications between ethnicities and cultures while others come to practice a foreign language. Regular customers are not only karateka (karate practitioners).
The handmade pizzas and authentic fish and chips are must-tries. Pizzas are made from scratch every day with selections including Greek style or spicy Jalapeño.
James uses beer for his fish and chips batter resulting in a fish fillet that is crispy on the outside and a moist on the inside. Fish and chips is English soul food and his recipe is authentic.
Of course, the name DOJO BAR in the land where karate was born means something too. Karate gi (practice uniforms) worn by famous karateka, autographs and traditional martial arts weapons are displayed throughout the bar. Visitors come from all over to view the exhibits and to talk karate with James. He is very knowledgeable about martial arts.
As a boy in England, James grew up watching kung fu and samurai movies before starting karate and he read “Gorin-no-Sho (Book of Five Rings)” by Musashi Miyamoto when he was in high school. Now, he occasionally refers tourists interested in traditional Okinawan culture to local dojos.
“I like karate because it of its elegance as well as its power,” said James, “Keeping an open mind is the key to speed and preciseness in karate.” He goes on to explain that Okinawa is a unique because of cultural influences from Japan and China while retaining its own identity despite the outside influences. “Karate symbolizes Okinawa’s history,” he said. “It's very flexible.”
Indeed, James seems to project as much respect and understanding for Okinawa as many who were born and raised here.
“I love my life here,” said James. “I enjoy the ocean breeze and meeting with uminchu (fishermen). I used to live in Greece and England – other places that have close relationships with the sea and their own uminchu. Fishermen in Okinawa are exceptionally kind people. It is their nature to help and care for each other. My customers from foreign countries have nothing but positive comments about Okinawa's safety and the friendliness of its people.”
James thinks that the responsibility of the karateka is protecting people. “Protecting does not mean using force,” James said. “It means keeping the situation safe.” James believes that force should be used toward creating a life without conflict. “More often than not,” James explains. “Ego causes fights. For example, if you don’t agree with others, feelings of rage form and then verbal or physical violence follows.” James says that conflict doesn't happen without notice. “There are steps leading to every fight,” he says, “You need to control yourself at each step.”
James believes that karate is a great tool for controlling everything about yourself including your ego – and his words are very persuasive. I felt like I was listening to one of our elder local people. I believe that James and those elders do have something in common: a powerful compassion that comes from overcoming hardship or pain.
Address: 101 Asato, Naha City, Okinawa
Hours: 19:00–25:00, daily
Okinawa CLIP photo writer: Noriya Fukuda