Two local people receive a martial arts plaque during trip to Japan

August 19, 2012|By JANET HEIM |
  • Pat Hunt and Michael "Mike" Robinson spent April 25 to May 1 in Japan as part of an American team competing in Iaido, or Japanese swordsmanship. The Americans defeated their Japanese hosts.
By Kevin G. Gilbert/Staff Photographer

SMITHSBURG, Md. — Pat Hunt and Michael “Mike” Robinson have been doing martial arts for about 40 years and a recent trip to Japan provided the opportunity to present each of them with a plaque commemorating their lifetime dedication.

They were two of four people to receive the award, out of the 300-member international team, Robinson said.

Hunt and Robinson were in Kyoto, Japan, from April 25 to May 1 as part of a 15-member U.S. team that competed in Iaido, or Japanese swordsmanship, with other teams competing in a variety of forms of martial arts.

They attended the Dai Nippon Butoku Kai’s Japan Butoku Sai, which this year marked the 50th anniversary of the event and the fourth year as a worldwide event. Hunt’s and Robinson’s team took highest honors, or first place, against a Japanese team and an international team in Iaido.

“It was a privilege and an honor to be able to participate. We were very pleased with our performance,” Robinson said. 

Iaido emphasizes drawing and cutting with the samurai sword, called a katana, in one fluid motion.

Since 1973, Hunt, 60, who owns and teaches at Smith’s Karate in Smithsburg, and Robinson, 53, an instructor at the karate school, have been honing their skills in the martial arts.

They have been training together in Iaido for 15 years. Hunt is a second-degree black belt and Robinson is a third-degree black belt, both in Iaido. 

“This is a martial art that’s not done a lot,” Robinson said.

Robinson said there were 350 competitors from Japan and 300 people competing from 22 other countries.

Their performance was judged by representatives of Dai Nippon Butoku Kai, which governs Japanese martial arts worldwide, Robinson said.

Hunt received an email from Carl Long of Wilkes-Barre, Pa., a sixth-degree black belt in Iaido with whom she and Robinson train, with these congratulatory remarks.

“This event is an opportunity for the Hombu board of directors to view and evaluate the true Japanese Budo (budo is a Japanese term that describes martial arts, according to Wikipedia) that is being practiced throughout the world. The attendees are observed 24 hours a day to determine if they are living up to the standards set by the ancient code of Bushido (which translates to “the way of the warrior”). It is not a simple tournament or competition. It is a constant test of one’s character. Many thanks to each of you for stepping up to the challenge,” wrote Long, who also was a member of the U.S. team, of which Hunt and Robinson were a part.

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