Wednesday, January 23, 2008

March 2007: Chicago Kendo Dojo, Chicago/USA

During my staying, in Chicago, march 2007, I also contacted Mizuuchi Sensei at Chicago Kendo Dojo to ask for the possibility to practice at their site. The dojo is located at Bethany United Church of Christ, 4250 N Paulina Street, Chicago, IL 60613.
The dojo is very near to the house of my friends in Chicago. Gianni, my friend, drove me there about 45 minutes before the training, I always prefer to arrive early than late :-).
In front of the Dojo, we met a Japanese man with a broom. I thought he was a caretaker of the gym. He asked me why we were there and I told him that I asked for the opportunity to practice at Chicago Kendo Dojo.
He also asked me how long I was practicing Kendo and I told him about two years...... I was shocked when he told me that he was practicing Kendo from 74 years! That phrase was amazing, he had a very young face and I was not expecting he was over 80 years old.
He introduced himself saying that he was Frank Matsumoto. Since nobody was still there Mr. Matsumoto told me and my friend something about his long life. It was wonderful to know the many things he did during his life. He was in Europe during the second world war, it was an amazing story. But, still I did not realized who was the man in front of me.
In the mean time somebody start to show up and greeting Mr Matsumoto saying "Sensei". Furthermore, a young japanese man asked to Matsumoto Sensei to have his broom and he had to discuss a bit to avoid that the Sensei continue cleaning the Dojo.
In few minutes, about 8:00 PM, many persons arrived and finished to clean the Dojo. Many of those were Japanese. Also an other old japanese man arrived, Mr. Kadoi, the administrator of the Dojo.
When everybody was ready, we started the training and also Sensei Matsumoto participated to it. Together with Matsumoto Sensei there were other three teachers.
We started with basic techniques and suburi to warm up, then we practiced kirikaeshi and some basic kion. Subsequently, I practiced with an other student how to keep the center of the opponent to make aiuchi-men. After, we practiced a bit of gigeiko and I had the honor to practice kakarigeiko with Matsumoto Sensei as motodachi. He told me that I have to push with the left foot to make a correct men. All his comments were very useful and I still keep them in my mind during my Kendo practice.
At the end of the training all the other teachers were making general comments on students behavior. Unfortunately, due to my broken english, I only got part of those useful hits.
One of the teachers told me that I have a reasonable kirikaeshi as uchitachi but I have to work more on the motodachi side. Actually it was an important hit on which I am still working.
It was a very nice training and I was really feeling as I was always been practicing at the Chicago Kendo Dojo.
At the end of the training Mr. Kadoi and Matsumoto Sensei gave me their business cards, and I knew that Matsumoto Sensei was a 7th DAN Hanshi.
It was an honor for me to ear his stories and learning from him.
Furthermore, any time it happen to me to speak with other kendokas on my time in the Chicago Kendo Dojo, I say that I wish to be as Matsumoto Sensei when I get older than 80.
Definitively, if I will manage to come back to Chicago I will do my best to visit again the Chicago Kendo Dojo.

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