Monday, July 21, 2008

July 2008: Visiting Toronto Kendo Club

On Saturday July the 19th I visited the Toronto Kendo Club. The TKC is located in an area of Toronto where a lot of Italians live. It was impressive listening people speaking in Italian entering in the J. Picinnini Recreation Center where the TKC is located. There were many old man playing cards and discussing at various table.
The gym of the TKC is very big but for some reason it was terribly hot. I arrived quite early and I had the opportunity to say few words with the other kendokas and to meet Bill Leong which is the person I contacted to join the TKC training.
I participated to the cleaning of the gym, in the mean time arrived Paul Nakamura and Nobi Nakamura instructors.
We started with a general warm-up both Kendo and Iaido students. After, Iaido took 1/3 of the gym, and we continue on the other part of the gym with some Suburi. The training that followed was very similar to that we have in Torino at Shubukan, beginners and intermediate students work all together. We began without the bogu doing basic ashi movement and subsequently we combined tsuki-ashi with men technique. This part was followed by basic training for suriage men and do. After we wear the full bogu and practice Kion, pritty like we do in Torino. After we had about 30 minutes Jigeiko, that was very hard, people at TKC is very good, they have very clean techniques and I needed all my attention to make some reasonable Jigeiko. My main problem was the hotness, as happened in Chicago after the first Jigeiko I had to stop and take out my men. However, this time since Paul told us that we could do it after asking to the instructor I could recover and drink some water. After it was much better and I managed to finish the Jigeiko.
After the training I was invited to participate to a training session the day after but unfortunately I could not accept since that was the central part of the ISMB meeting and I have to attend to it.
I was also invited to join the the Dojo people for a drink. It was a great time, good beer and good talk about Kendo and other objects. I realize that they are a very tight group, it was really a pleasure for me to practice with them and enjoy few beers after! I hope to get back in Toronto to practice again with them.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

July 2008: Visiting University of Toronto Kendo Club

On Thursday July the 15th I moved from Chicago to Toronto for the ISMB meeting.
As soon as I got to the hotel I prepared every thing to go to the University of Toronto Kendo Club.
I had an appointment at 6:30 PM with Glen, which is taking care of the UTKD web site.
Since also Toronto in this period is very hot, I was very happy when I entered in the hall of the Athletic Center since it was air conditioned. I meet Glen and he managed to find a ticket to enter in the Athletic Center since the entrance is limited to students of the University of Toronto.
After changing I got to the gym where they practice and unfortunately air conditioning was not present in that gym, but it was not so hot as in Chicago. All people were quite young. The lesson was held by a young instructor, unfortunately I forgot his name. We started with a worm up followed by Suburi. Then, we wear the full bogu. The focus of the lesson was the preparation to counteracting techniques. The instructor was very good in sliding each of the techniques in pieces to allow and ease understanding of each of the single actions and then all pieces were combined together. We practice debana kote, hiki men, hiki kote and hiki do. The overall lesson was devoted to understand how to get a point in shiai using these techniques.
After we did mawarigeiko. This time the overall level of the students was more near mine and Jigeiko was nice and not too difficult. After the training I was invited to join again their practice on Saturday, when their Sensei was present, but unfortunately I could not do it since I had already an appointment at Toronto Kendo Club.
I also got an invitation to join the other persons for a drink but I was a bit to slow in taking the shower and I could not find any one in the hall of the Athletic Center.

A collection of videos from University of Toronto Kendo Club

Sunday, July 13, 2008

July 2008: Back to Chicago Kendo Dojo

I just arrived in Chicago, now (13/07/2008). It was a very nice trip. I traveled in business class (Lufthansa) due to overbooking of my flight in the economy class, it was absolutely wonderful! We were on time and none of my luggage was lost!
I am actually waiting for my Chicago's friends coming back from Italy. Since they are coming with an Alitalia flight I was expecting a bit of delay but not 5 hours! I have to wait anyway since I am going to stay at their home during these 4 days in Chicago.
It is my first time in Chicago in July and the weather is nice and worm , quite different from freezing April.
On Tuesday evening I will be again at Chicago Kendo Dojo. I hope to see again Matsumoto Sensei..... As usual I will do my best and I hope I will not suffer to much of jet-lag.
On Tuesday the July the 15th I was again at Chicago Kendo Dojo.

A picture from Chicago Kendo Dojo web site

It was very nice to be back there. I arrived few minutes before 8:00 PM and I found Jeehwan Kim Instructor
and few other people finishing the cleaning of the Dojo. I introduced myself and after a while Kim reminded about my previous visit at the Dojo. Few minutes after 8:00 PM Matsumoto Sensei entered in the Dojo it was very nice to see him again. He is now 86, with a very bright mind. I think their students are very lucky to have a Sensei with such long experience. We started by practicing for half and hour alone and Matsumoto came around to give some advices. The first time I came to this Dojo I was 1st Kyu and Matsumoto's suggestions were very useful to improve my Kendo. Now, I was proud of my improvement since I got my shodan. However, Matsumoto highlighted some critical points I have to work hard to improve. Specifically, I have to focus on fighting with my full body and not only with my arms.
Subsequently, we started a warm up with basic Suburi and then we started the practice with the complete bogu. Summer in Chicago is very hot and humid. Believe me, it is quite unpleasant when you wear the bogu. We did some Kihon and this time it was much easier since I have improved a bit my Kendo ability. After 20 minutes of Kihon I was completely wet and nearly unable to breath. Immediately after the Kihon we started Jigeiko. It was a real nightmare, I try my best but after the first Jigeiko I need to stop and I took out the men. I knew that it was something that I should not do but I was very near to get unconscious . I took all my remaining strength and I started again. The persons in the Dojo are very good in Kendo and all my attention was needed to give my best in the Jigeiko. However, even if I have rested between the first and second Jigeiko also after the second one I had to stop and take out the men again. After recovering I did an other Jigeiko and as last I had the honor to make again Kakarigeiko with Matsumoto Sensei. I was exhausted, but I tried my best. During Kakarigeiko Matsumoto Sensei gave me some useful advice to improve my Kendo. I was really exhausted, but I knew that if I was not making my best the Kakarigeiko would never end. I still remember my last men, I took out everything from my body and I knew I could not be able to do an other one. Fortunately, Matsumoto Sensei allowed me to stop after this and I could finally rest and recover.
After the practice I thanks everybody for the opportunity to be part of their practice.
I am very happy that I managed to get back to the Chicago Kendo Dojo for a second time and I hope to get back in Chicago in the near future to visit them again.

A collection of videos from Chicago Kendo Dojo