Okinawa, Japan — After enjoying sunny days in Naha, I decided to take a bus to Chatan, Okinawa. The town is also known as Okinawa’s “Americanized” town due to its proximity to US Military bases and its popular entertainment complex, the Mihama American Village. In addition, Chatan is famous for its scenic beaches. While in Chatan, I had an opportunity to train at Capoeira Academy Okinawa located next to charming Araha beach.
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Okinawa consists of 160 islands and only 48 are inhabited. Chatan is located in Nakagami District under Okinawa Prefecture. It is approximately 17km (~11 miles) north of Naha, which is located in the southern part of the Okinawa Islands. Due to the expansion of recreational and shopping businesses in the town, Chatan has become increasingly popular among locals and tourists. In Chatan, you could easily discover adorable cafes to enjoy a cup of coffee with a picturesque view of the ocean.
Unlike its name, Capoeira Academy Okinawa offers diverse classes ranges from Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to Mixed Martial Arts. Given that it is conveniently located near US Military bases in Okinawa, the majority of students has connections to the US Military. After training at US Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, I was looking forward to training with US soldiers who are deployed in Okinawa again. The academy also was home to a few current MMA competitors who are actively preparing for their next fights.
Classes are taught by Professor Benjamin Moriniere who holds a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under Caveirinha. He is also an Capoeira instructor and an MMA coach for the academy. Professor Moriniere was not only passionate about teaching martial arts but also actively engaging with students. He created a welcoming training environment for me during my visit. Also being surrounded by Americans, I was comfortable as if I were training back in New York.
Capoeira Academy Okinawa’s class structure was standard with basic warm-ups, drilling and rolling. We mainly focused on various submissions from side control. Because the class size was fairly small with approximately 15 people per class, I was able to receive personal attention from the professor. With a combination of beautiful beaches, Jiu-Jitsu, and friendly academy, my trip to Chatan was a success. It was a phenomenal way to end my trip in Japan. I would suggest you to do the same if you get an opportunity.
Capoeira Academy Okinawa is located about 2km south of the Mihama American Village in Chatan. Once you are in Chatan, you can simply walk to the academy follwing the beach walk that connects Sunset beach and Araha beach. However, as mentioned previously, I would highly recommend renting a car in Okinawa as the public transportation is not as convenient as sizable Japanese cities such as Tokyo or Osaka. (Google Map: Link)
Capoeira Academy Okinawa’s training area was simple, but it was equipped with necessary equipment. Professor Moriniere notified me that the academy is currently looking to expand the facility to accommodate its increasing demand.
Capoeira Academy Okinawa’s most recent schedule is posted below:
As a courtesy, I would recommend reaching out to the academy prior to your visit via academy’s Facebook page.
The drop-in fee is ¥2,200 (~$20 USD) a class.
<<Exchange Rate: 1,000Yen =~$9.2 USD as of May 9th, 2018>>
- The Mihama American Village — The entertainment complex is surrounded by American military bases and it provides nostalgic pleasure to American soldiers. The complex has restaurants and shops selling American brand clothes and food. The most notable feature of the American village is its Ferris Wheel.
- Sunset beach (Chatan) — Chatan is located 17km north of Naha. Sunset beach is located near the Mihama American Village. The beach is pleasant and serene since it was not crowded.
- Shuri Castle — The castle is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which served as a residence for Ryukyu kings until Okinawa became a Japanese Prefecture in 1879. The top of the castle overlooks Naha. I would recommend Shuri Castle’s traditional Okinawan tea and snacks while touring the castle.
- Fukushūen — A traditional Chinese garden with a beautiful scenery. The garden was established as a symbol of the sister city relationship between Naha and the Chinese city, Fuzhou.
- Makishi Public Market — The most popular market district in Naha trades all sorts of Okinawan food and souvenirs. The surrounding area of the market is filled with restaurants as well. I would recommend rewarding yourself with delicious local cuisines after enjoying Okinawa’s humid tropical weather.
– Okinawa Map