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OKCC Grand Opening article in Okinawa Newspaper

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OKCC Grand Opening article in Okinawa Newspaper

Ryukyu Shimpo Newspaper English Translation of the article originally published in Japanese, Okinawa Japan on Dec. 10, 2023

Okinawa Karate Cultural Center Washington, DC, Grand Opening Celebration

by Tamiko Suzuki, Asian Overseas Correspondent, Ryukyu Shimpo Newspaper

12-10-2023

The Okinawa Karate Cultural Center opened in Chantilly, a town near Washington, DC. The founder of the center is Uechi-ryu Shihan Nestor Folta, an 8th-degree black belt world champion. The new Okinawa Karate Cultural Center is a one-of-a-kind facility in the U.S. It includes a karate dojo, a multi-purpose room with displays of traditional Okinawan crafts and artifacts, a large photo of the Shureimon (Shuri Castle Gate) on the wall, and other exhibits that bring the history and culture of Okinawa into the public eye. In addition, there are two offices, a conference room, and a kitchen, all of which are open to the public.

On November 5, the opening celebration of the Okinawa Karate Culture Center was held. The first event took place outdoors, where participants played rope tug-of-war in honor of the Great Naha Tug-of-War, a traditional Okinawan culture of "prosperity, happiness, and unity.” This was followed by a ribbon-cutting ceremony, which proceeded indoors. After an opening prayer, the national anthem, and Ryukyuan dance, organizer Mr. Folta said during his welcome remarks, "The establishment of this Okinawa Karate Culture Center has been my dream for many years. Now my dream has come true, and my second life has begun.”  Guests were introduced, and the local supervisor, two mayors, and the director of the Okinawa prefecture's Washington Office gave congratulatory speeches. The event was enlivened by a karate demonstration, Eisa, Sanshin with song, and band performances, followed by live jazz and rock music.

“The five years I spent in Okinawa changed my life," he said. “I am honored to be the only foreigner to have been trained by the founding family of Uechi-ryu and to have achieved all of my belt rank promotions in person at the headquarters Futenma Shubukan to my current 8th-degree black belt," said Mr. Folta.  The center’s two main purposes are martial arts instruction and cultural activities, and it also aims to play a role in promoting Okinawa.

Together with members of the Okinawa Kai of Washington, DC, Mr. Folta has been actively working towards the preservation and promotion of Okinawan performing arts for many years, including traditional dances, sanshin, karate, and Eisa, and performing at various events throughout the US, including the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, DC.  In 2015, Mr. Folta was inspired by his passion for promoting and preserving Okinawan culture and arts to take things to the next level.  From that moment on, the dream of having a center that would fuse Okinawan karate, culture, and performing arts was born. “It was then that the dream of having a center that combines Okinawan karate and cultural arts was born," he says. He added, "It took six years to find a location for the center and a year to complete the renovation. My 35 years of experience as a civil engineer for the federal government, including the Department of Energy, helped me with the interior design, final inspections, and permitting of the center." he continued. He added, "In teaching karate, I would like to focus not only on techniques but also on teaching the Okinawan spirit of "Yuimaaru" and "Ichariba Chode" to foster students who can contribute to the local community. It is my pleasure and honor to share the Okinawan culture that has deeply touched my life.”

His wife Mayumi, eldest son Nestor, and eldest daughter Naomi are all black belts, and the realization of the Okinawa Karate Cultural Center is the result of their united efforts.

Nestor Folta's website is traditionalkarate.com.

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