Saturday, November 21, 2009

November 2009: Visiting Hizen kendo Club in London

19th-20th November...still in London for the Affymetrix Core lab directors meeting. This is a very interesting event to meet people heavily involved in microarray data generation and analysis. The meeting was held in an hotel near Heathrow airport. Thanks to the quick and efficient London transportation system, on thurday the 19th I manage to visit the Hizen Kendo Club. This is a quite old kendo club. I red the history of the dojo and I found it very impressing. The Dojo's sensei is Jeff Humm that I contacted to practice at the dojo. But now lets go back to the 19th exciting night. I left at 6 p.m. from my hotel, took a shuttle bus to Heathrow terminal 1, catched the London express train to Paddinton station and from there the Circle line to Euston station. I was there at 7:30 p.m so I had time for a quick sandwich and a orange juice bought at Easton station. Then, I went in search of the Dojo, which is locate at Sommers Town Community Centre, Chalton Street. When I arrived, already somebody was ready for practice and they were very kind with me indicating where I could change. Getting out from the changing room I met Jeff. He is a person of few words but you can feel is charismatic personality during the training. I waited a bit together with other persons till the Dojo was free from the previous practice. In the mean time sensei Jeff was speaking with Satoshi Miyamura, one of the instructors of Hizen Dojo. There were also other group of person from Lituania, I do not know if they were there for the Mumeshi 3’s Kendo Clubs Championship competition or if they were simply a group of students living in London. Finally, we enter in the Dojo and sensei Jeff came near me ans simply said "Kendo is Kendo everywhere, please enjoy the training", great words! After a brief warm up and stretching we put the men and started kirikaeshi. We nearly did 20 round of kirikaeshi and after we combined kirikaeshi with hiki waza techniques (hiki men, hiki kote, hiki do). It was quite challenging to get at the end of this part of training, but I more or less managed without stopping. After the most high in level invited the rest of the people to do kirikaeshi, some basic kihon, jigeiko, followed again by kirikaeshi or kihon.
I started practicing with Satoshi, it was very usefull training. I have to admit that could do more if I did not fall in my usual problem "to be very contracted when I practice" and therefore being more slow. Then, I enter in the queue to practice with sensei Jeff and I could get a brief rest since I had four persons before me. Practicing with sensei Jeff was very challenging but it was also very usefull since he showed me some errors in my way of striking men. I knew there was something wrong in my men strike and his suggestions will be very usefull to improve my technique, since next year I will try the sandan grading. At the end of the keiko with Jeff I was absolutely exahusted but I still wanted to practice. I rested a bit and I did the keiko with the japanese lady Miyamura. Because I was exahusted I was a little less contracted than usual and I managed to strike some good kote. The kendo of this lady was very clean and it was really a pleasure to practice with her.
After, the keiko there was again a brief session of kirikaeshi and after Sensei Jeff highlighted some of the critical issues he observed during the keiko. It was very useful to further focus on our technical problems. After the end of the training I thank a lot sensei Jeff for the nice training and I rushed to catch the last train to Heathrow. I got back at the hotel about midnight, very tired but terribly happy for the nice night spent at Hizen Kendo Club.
If my work will bring me again in London I will do my best to practice again at the Hizen Dojo.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

November 2009: Visiting TORA Dojo in London

I am back in UK! This time I will spend few days in London. From November the 17th to November the 18th I was in London Bridge since I did a talk at the Breakthrough Breast Cancer Unit. I was invited by a friend of mine that recently moved as Bioinformatician to this Unit. It was great to see him again and to discuss extensively of science with him, his collaborators and his boss, Professor Peter Parker. I realized tha the Bioinformatics/Molecular Biology Italian community is relatively small since also an other old friend of mine was also part of the Breakthrough Breast Cancer Unit. I had a very intensive and interesting day of discussions with them.
Nevertheless as usual I took my bogu with me and on the 17th night I visited the TORA DOJO which is located at London Nautical School Community Sport Hall, The London Nautical School, 61 Stamford Street. This is a relatively new dojo run by Hyun Hong Cho, which is a 5th Dan kumdo teacher from South Korea.
I met for the first time one of the person from Tora Dojo at the Italian Cup, team competition in Alessandria, few weeks ago. The team was made by Jon of Tora Dojo, Young Park of Nenriki Dojo and a local Italian Kyu grade. This team was very good and for sure much stronger than us and they cleanly won all three shai and reached the Quarter Final (best 8 of 55 teams).
But coming back to the lesson at the Tora Dojo, the sensei is very frendly outside the dojo but she is very demanding during the lesson. We started with a quick run and stretching followed by basic suburi. Then we put the men and we did a very dinamic training. We started with various sets of kirikaeshi followed by kirikaeshi do. Then we did some repetitions of men, kote, kote-men, kote-men-do. Subsequently the students with bogu were divided in two groups yudansha and kyusha. We did a round of kakarigeiko that was quite exausting, since each element of the group has to do about 10 seconds kakarigeiko with all the components of the group. It was very useful because you have no time to think you have to strike the opponent. After that we started with the same approach of a big circle ippon-shogu. A person in the center fights against everybody else since somebody strike a good technique and the person in the center changes. Also this exercise was very useful because it was very quick with no time to think.
As the final part we did ippon-shogu shai.
At the end of the one and half hour I have to admit that I was quite tired. The sensei invited me to join them for a beer at a pub. It was great I was so thirsty! After recovering I asked the sensei if they were doing always that type of training and she told me that they were preparing for a competition that is on sunday, therefore they had a couple of weeks of intensive preparation to shai. It was a very nice night. I had the possibility to speak with other students that they knew the Italian male team, the people from Alessandria and also one of my friend of my Dojo, Edwing, that fights in Jodan.
I really hope to came back to the Tora Dojo whenever I will be again in London.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

October 2009: Visiting BUDO XI in Paris

This time I am in Paris to describe some of the work we have done on microarray meta-analysis on the meeting of the EADGENE European network of excellence. It is really a pleasure to be here, meeting is interesting and Paris is a beautiful town. Although I have some problem with my broken French, which is only enough to understand what I am eating.
The meeting is taking place at Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, which is really a beatiful location.
Few weeks ago I contacted Dominique Aufroy to visit the BUDO XI dojo. I am going there tonight to join the training for yudansha directed by Yoshimura Sensei, 8th DAN Kyoshi, and J.P. Labru, 7th DAN Renshi.
I will do my best during the training even though I have some residual pain of the cold I catch last week end.
In few hours I will be back to continue the story....
... I arrived to the Dojo, which is located in a multifunctional sporting center, half an hour before training began. Fortunately the
person at the reception was speaking a bit of English and he shew me where to go. Going to the second floor I realized that kendo was there since I started to hear the noise of kiai and fumikomi. When I arrived there was the session of the children, which were quite a lot. I was waiting for Dominique but since I have not seen her I asked to one of the other kendokas, waiting for the training. He shew me the person to introduce myself. At this point I wear the bogu and got to the first floor where all the others were waiting for the training. I was also introduced to Mr. Labru. The practice took place in a dance room with a very flexible floor, ideal for fumikomi. The room was relatively small and we were more then 25 persons. After a brief warm up we did basic suburi: jogeburi, nanameburi and choyakumen. Subsequently we did the rei and wear the men.
The lesson was held by Yoshimura Sensei. We started with Kirikaeshi followed by Do kirikaeshi. In the Do kirikaeshi the second round was done not as in the linked video but making, at judan level, the catch of the shinai by motodachi. After Yoshimura Sensei demonstrated the men attach in four steps:
  1. Starting from long distance seme followed by big men
  2. Starting from long distance seme stopping for a moment in kamae crossing the shinai and then attaching men
  3. Starting from long distance searching the right distance to strike men when the shinai are in contact
  4. Starting from judan no kamae with the shinai crossed make a little step haed with the back foot, doing a sort of standing seme, and then attaching men
Subsequently Yoshimura demonstrated kote-men in four steps:
  1. Starting for the judan no kamae with crossed shinai strike kote passing on the side of the opponent that start to step back.
  2. Starting for the judan no kamae with crossed shinai strike kote, the opponent step back and strike men, passing on the side of the opponent.
  3. Same as step 2
  4. Opponent attach kote and we answer uchi kote followed by men in the mean time the opponent start stepping back.
After this kion practice we did 30-45 seconds kakarigeiko changing motodachi.
After the experienced persons, e.g. Yushimura Sensei, Labru Sensei etc., wear their men and we started gigeiko. I was very lucky because I was in the line for practicing with Yoshimura Sensei. As usual when I practice with such high level person I feel completely inadequate. However I did my best to strike some good attach but with very little results.
After I moved to an other line and I fought with a very tall person, I apologize but I forgot to write down his name and I do not remember it. That was a challenging gigeiko, his kamae was very protective for the kote and I could not manage to find any opening. I tried the suggestions I got sometimes ago from Olivier Perrenoud, 6th DAN, the instructor of the Budokan Lausanne Kendo Club, to induce the tall opponent to a kamae suitable for me but I did not managed. The only things I could try were uchi men and debana men which were not effective since he was arriving always before me. After I fought with a person using nito, if I do not mistake should be Mr. Dupon. It was an occasion to test my Jodan. I am practicing Jodan kamae since last year and normally with persons with experience greater then me I do not use it because I have still many things to learn in judan no kamae. However, figthing against nito in judan is really a nightmare, instead jodan kamae has the advantage that distance is greater. Mr Dupon uses the longer sword with the right hand which is actually increasing the complexity of the fight, at least for me. Never the less it was a very interesting fight. He hit my right kote many times and I could not realize how he did, until he explained it to me in front of a beer at the end of the training. He told me that he was focusing my attention on the left hand short sword and therefore I could not realize that he was attaching me with the right hand. I have already fought in jodan against nito but Mr. Dupon was using many different kamae that were making very difficult to hit him. He also shew me that the only open side would be DO and he allowed me to try it. I have to store this information for the next time I will fight against nito. At the end I probably managed to hit him not more that a couple of times but it was an enjoyable gigeiko! Speaking in front of a beer he also told me that I have to imrpove my seme doing Jodan because without seme Jodan is very weak. Unfortuantely before I managed to practice with Labru Sensei the two hours were finished :-(
I took a shower and I joined the other people of the dojo for a quick beer, I was absolutely thirsty!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

September 2009: Visiting Nagamitsu Kendo Kai Dojo

Summer holidays are finished and Kendo trainining started again in our dojo in Torino. I was really missing the training and it was wonderful to see friends and practice again together. The first two weeks of September were very working intensive due to exams and two meetings I have been invited. Yesterday, 18th Sept, I came back from UK where I was to participate to the UKAffy8 meeting.
It was a very interesting meeting and also gave me the possibility to visit, in Birmingham (picture below),
the Nagamitsu Kendo Kai Dojo.
I got in contact with Sean Starr, the UK Kendo Squad Manager (left picture),
and Malcolm Goodwin. The British kindness was perfectly represented by these two gentlemen. They offer me to pick me up and and bring me back at the hotel after training.
In the first email contact I was a bit worried since I have understood that Nagamitsu Wednesday training was based on half an hour of katas and one and half hour of shiai. I have to admit that not even at the end of one year practice I am able to survive to one hour shiai. So I was a bit worry. Sean pick me up at the hotel. The Nagamitsu Kendo Kai Dojo is located in the suburbs of Birmingham in a leisure center. They practice in a dance gym, which has a soft and flexible wood floor. It is not as flexible as the wood floors in Japaneses dojos, but it is one of the best I have seen in my trips in Europe. Unfortunately I could not meet Malcolm since it was in holidays.
The training started with half an hour practice on katas. It was very good for me since I have to improve the 6th and the 7th katas since next year it is the time to try the sandan exam. I initially practice with Christopher Westley (picture on the right)
and then with Sean. I got some very good advise on the timing and other useful tips.
After the katas Sean directed a brief warm up and subsequently the lesson was driven by Derek Raybould. Fortunately my initial worries of one and half hour shai were cleared since we started with basic suburi and after we wear the men we did several rounds of big men, kote kaeshi men, kote debana kote men and finally kirikaeshi. Subsequently we started mawarigeiko I had the chance to practice nearly with everybody. Unfortunately I could not fight with Christopher we never managed to get in front of each other during the mawarigeiko. At the end of the training all people made a large circle and we did ippon shobu. When I was in the center I moved from judan kamae, which I used over all mawarigeiko, to jodan kamae. Since I am studying it, I try to apply it always at the end of jigeiko practice. I am still not so good in jodan but I like the posture very much and the only way to learn it is to practice.
I was very proud of me since I managed to get to the end of the training without stopping although I was very exhausted at the end. As usual when a kendo session ends I am happy because I am tired but also disappointed since it is finished and I like the practice so much.
I had a very nice time in Birmingham and I hope to meet them again. I got the promise from Sean that for the next Kendo World Championship, that will be held in Novara (Italy), we will keep in contact and I will bring him around Torino for a tour and a dinner.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

July 2009: Visiting FSKA Dojo in Stockholm

Any time I add a new visit to this blog I realize that I am very lucky to have the opportunity to meet and practice with many Kendokas all over the world.
This time I am in Stockholm for the ISMB/ECCB meeting. I have contacted Micaela Ahlstam (picture on the left) which is one of the instructor of the FSKA Dojo in Stockholm.
I arrived in Stockholm on Saturday June the 27th and the visit to the summer training at FSKA was scheduled on Wednesday July the 1st. I was quite lucky because the weather was really exceptional clear sky and 27 C, nearly incredible! The meeting was very interesting but during these days in Stockholm I was really looking forward to practice Kendo. Yesterday night I went to the summer location of the FSKA Dojo (picture below)

and, getting out from the underground, I met an other kendoka that was so kind to introduce me to the people in the Dojo. I also knew from him that FSKA is the largest Dojo in Sweden.
We started the training with a basic suburi and than we put the men and started a long session of various version of kirikaeshi. I have to admit that this was the most exhausting part of the training. After we practiced big and small men and kote. After the first 45 minutes we had a break of 3-5 minutes and I had the chance to meet Isak,

a kendoka that was fluently speaking Italian since he spent some years in Firenze and Milano studying and working. It was also amazing to know from Philipp, an other instructor of the Dojo, that he started Kendo in Heidelberg and he knew some of the people I met during my last visit to the Heidelberg Kendo Dojo. After this little break we did something quite interesting: it was a competition on being very quick in wearing the men. After wearing the men we aligned, in the center of the Dojo, on the basis of the time needed to put the men on . Then the person that was the last in wearing the men started to do three times men on the second person and so on till the end of the long line of persons. In the mean time also the second last person started the three men and so on till every body had finished the men series. It is an interesting way to speed up the men wearing. It can be very exhausting making that long series of men when in the Dojo there are 20 or 30 persons!
After we practice some iki techniques and then there was the free gigeiko with the experienced persons. I had also the possibility to make a brief gigeiko with Micaela. After we did mawarigeiko and the training ended.
I was quite exausted but very happy. I enjoyed a lot the training and the people and I hope to be back in Stockholm to practice again with them.

Monday, May 25, 2009

May 2009: Children Kendo training at Lancini's Dojo, Brescia (I)

This time I have visited Lancini's Kendo Dojo (Sei Chu Do Dojo) in Brescia. This trip was not linked to one of my business trips but it was due to my interest in learning more on the Kendo training for children. The Sei Chu Do Dojo has a training session only for children on friday. The training is held by Mrs Yoon Sook Ma (4th DAN), the wife of Livio Lancini (7th DAN).

I met Yoon Sook, for the first time, during SUMI's seminar at Shubukan. She, Livio and Jun, their son, participate to the seminar and I hear about the nice work Yoon Sook is doing to train children in Kendo.
I then asked if I could come, with my sun, to participate to one of their children trainings. On friday May the 22nd, my family, together with the family of my instructor, Walter Pomero (7th DAN), went to Brescia. The Sei Chu Do Dojo is located at liceo scientifico N. Copernico
via Duca degli Abruzzi, 17 (ingresso da via Balestrieri) Brescia.
The training started with the rei and at that training participated a total of 8 children, including Lorenzo (my sun) and Sasha (Pomero's sun).
All the training was organized in a way to make Kendo exercises as a game.
They started the foot training to synchronize feet, with hand movements and kiai. Initially the exercise was done without shinai and then with shinai.
After they made a nice game to improve synchronization. Children were in a circle keeping their shinai parallel to their bodies with a finger on kensen. When Yoon Sook was giving the ajime they have to leave their own shinai an catch the one of the child nearby.
After there was the training for MEN. Children were organized in couples, one in front to another, and motodashi keeps the shinai parallel to his body and the other child has to hit slowly the kensen of motodachi shinai, with a large MEN movement. Then, children were organized in two rows and, for each row, the instructor throws slowly a ball in front to a child and he has to hit the ball with the shinai doing a quick movement with his wrists, then child move to the back of the row and game continue with the second child.
After there was the DO training the instructor was keeping, like a flag, a tenogui and when the tenogui is left the child has to hit it. The child has, as start position, the shinai placed on the left sholder, an example is give in the picture below.
An other exercise was made to understand when the opponent is attaching by looking on his eyes. Children are located one in front to another and motodachi keeps a tenogui parallel to the floor on his open hands. The opponent rises his hand and looks in motodachi eyes. Motodachi has to understand when the opponent is trying to remove the tenogui from his hands looking only in the opponent eyes and closing the hands to keep the tenogui.
All the training was done with a reasonable amount of happy caos, which is an important part of children life, never the less Yoon Sook was able to make children doing all exercises.
At the end of the session children put on the full bogu and they did a brief gigeiko between each other.
As last exercise various adult motodachi were collected and children did on them a DO slalom.
Training finished with the rei.
It was really a wonderful night. My sun was absolutely enthusiast of the training.
Mothers took care of dressing the children and after they all went to a nearby pizzeria. In the mean time Pomero, her wife, Simona (3rd DAN) and me joined, for half an hour, the mawarigeiko for adults. I managed to practice with Lancini, with an other guest from Milano (6th DAN) and with part of the people of Lancini's Dojo. As usual gigeiko was exiciting and exhausting. Making gigeiko in an other Dojo it is always an occasion to find some weak points in my Kendo. This time I realized that, when I am in tsubazeriai, I lack completely in protecting the men from opponent attach, I have to work on it.
In autumn, I hope to organize again a trip to Brescia with my sun.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

May 2009: 2nd day in Heidelberg - Germany

On my second day in Heidelberg I joined the Kendo practice at the Ken Zen Kan Dojo.
I have to admit that, even if I like a lot practicing Iaido, I feel more comfortable when I enter in a Kendo Dojo. This happened also at Ken Zen Kan Dojo, with the other advantage that many persons were speaking English and I meet also two Italians. I was also very happy to know that my German understanding is sufficient to practice Kendo :-)
It was nice to see that there were also many beginners, that are important to make a Dojo growing.
The training started with a warm up followed by a quite heavy suburi.
After we put on the men and started kion focusing on zanshin, practicing big men, kote and focusing on the right way to make do. After we move to counter attack techniques: kote-nuki men and men-nuki do. The lesson passed very smoothly and we finished with mawari geiko. This was an extremely enjoyable part, very clean and challenging fightings. At the end I did keiko with Frank, the Iaido instructor, and he is a nito user. This was a nice opportunity to test my jodan. It is about an year that I am practicing jodan, as side training in Torino, but I am quite a beginner, however to fight against nito in judan is really difficult, therefore I switched to jodan. It was a nice fight, difficult to find space within the nito but interesting and enjoyable. At the end of a refreshing shower the President of the Dojo was so kind to bring me back to the EMBL Hotel.
It seems that it is possible that I will be part of other workshops in Heidelberg and it will be a great opportunity to practice again at Ken Zen Kan.

Monday, May 4, 2009

May 2009: 1st day in Heidelberg - Germany

This time I am in Heidelberg for the EMBL/Affymetrix workshop. It was a great pleasure to be back at EMBL not as a student but as instructor. The first day of workshop was very interesting and students interact a lot during the various talks.
At 6:00 pm I left EMBL to go practice Iaido at the Ken Zen Kan Dojo. This is the first ime a practice Iaido in a other dojo. It was a bit difficult to find the Dojo but at the end I succeded and I was lucky to meet Frank Gottschalk, the Iaido/Kendo instructor, just out side the Dojo. Frank speaks fluently english and he was so kind to make the lesson both in German and in English.
We practice Seitei and he also highlighted the presence of similarity/dissimilarity between Seitei and Muso shinden. The lesson was very interesting but I realized that I did not manage to give my best.
He highlighted the fact that my cut is still too small, but I have a reasonable timing. Never the less I could do much better.
At the end of the training he was so kind to bring me back to the Hotel and during the trip he said, a very important think. I was saying that I normally practice Iaido focusing in removing my mistakes. He said that it would be better to make all possible efforts in understanding how the technique should be correctly done instead of focusing on the removal of mistakes. He said that this positive way of looking at Iaido is more efficient than simply trying to detect and remove errors. I like this idea and I have to work on it.
Back at the hotel I still managed to have a kebab and a fresh beer even if it was quite late at night.
Tomorrow I will have and other interesting working day and at night I will go practicing Kendo with Frank.
Now it is time to switch off the light and get ready for an other day in Heidelberg.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

March 2009: Fukuoka - Japan

March the 14th
Back again with one of my scientific/kendo trip.
This is the third time I go in Japan and I hope it will be a great experience (素晴らしい経験) as it was the other two times. Japan is an amazing country especially for somebody practicing martial arts.
I am, now, at Torino airport ready to go to Fukuoka for the workshop in Intelligent Informatics in Biology and Medicine (IIBM 2009) held at the Fukuoka Institute of Technology as part of the Third International Conference on Complex, Intelligent and Software Intensive Systems (CISIS 2009). The paper I have submitted to the conference was accepted and I will have my presentation on Thursday March the 19th. Being in Fukuoka I contacted SUMI Sensei (8th DAN Hanshi) which is the mentor of our Dojo in Torino and the Sensei of my instructor, Walter Pomero.
I am very lucky and happy since I will have the possibility to practice Kendo from Sunday evening, when my flight will arrive in Fukuoka, to Wednesday evening. I hope I will survive to training & jet lag. Probably being very exhausted I will sleep and I will overcome jet lag, hopefully . It is the first time I will practice Kendo in Japan.
I will be back with more news at my arrival at Fukuoka, tomorrow.
March the 15th
Trip was long but absolutely on time. I managed to catch also the internal flight from Nagoya to Fukuoka, even if, at the custom, they ask me to unpack all the presents I have made for my friends. It was deadly long but, due to the efficiency of Japanese people, I managed to arrive on time in Fukuoka. Sumi Sensei and one of his student, Ishi, were waiting for me. We had lunch together and then I went with Ishi to do mitori-geiko, "watching Kendo", for a couple of hours since there was a Prefectures teams competition going on at Fukuoka Budokan. It was incredible to watch the tournament, the fumikomi were so heavy that all the gym was vibrating.
Subsequently, Sumi Sensei was so kind to lent me his bogu to go practicing Keiko in an high school. It was amusing wearing the Sumi's bogu, it is so light, nothing compare to mine.
I have to admit that I was a bit shy, because I understand few words in Japanese. Anyway everybody was very kind with me and even from a short Keiko I think I got something on which I have to work. I realized that I am pushing very little with my left foot and the power is non coming from the hips. Furthermore, the tip of shinai should keep the center after kote.
It was also amusing as Ishi and his friend Ikui were completely different wearing the bogu. They were quite shy with me, also because of the difficulty in speaking in English, but with the bogu the became really two tigers.
Now I go to sleep, let hope to be fresh for an other day of Kendo adventure in Fukuoka.
March the 16th
The beginning of the day was quite complicated. Took me quite a lot to figure out which train I have to take to get to the Fukuoka Institute of Technology. Actually buying a ticket and finding the station were get off was fine, but the labels with the trains switch from English to Kanji very quickly and the station indicated on the label is the terminal one, at the end I asked to a person at the gate and finally I detected the train. Last problem was the lack of English labels into the train, so I had to be very careful at each station to be sure to get off at the right one.
Finally, I managed to catch the train and get off in Fukodai mae. Meeting registration was easy since it was in English :-)
Later in the afternoon, I meet Sumi Sensei at the FIT, we had a very good tempura together and we went visiting the Raizan Sennyoji Dai-Hihouin temple.
It is the only Buddhist temple remained out of those initially present in that area. It is characterized by the presence of a very big Budda (16 feets tall) made of wood from a single camelia tree. In the temple there are also 500 statues of Budda.
After this visit I went to the Kendo shop of Tashiro Sensei to get a Keikogi for my 10 years old sun. Tashiro Sensei make very beautiful bogu and he showed me old bogu belonging to Sumi Sensei and Chiba Sensei. After this we moved to Karatsu town and we went in a private dojo to practice Keiko. The wife of the Dojo owner offered us a very good green tea and we get ready for Keiko. It was an amazing night all the participants had many more Dans that me but nevertheless I made Keiko with any of them and got from them useful hits. For example, I realize that when I make men my left hand is not perfectly straight and the hit it is not precise.
Also Tashiro Sensei joined the keiko, but unfortunately I do not know the names of the other Sensei present at the Keiko.
It is extremely nice to practice with somebody that has a grade much higher, everything seems so simple in their hands but it is not true at all. Actually after this Keiko, I started trying to use the "Seme" to make men, trying to imitate an action that I have seen many times on me during Keiko.
When I receive a seme-men I realize that the opponent is invading my space, with Seme, but I cannot get the center anymore and I catch the men on my head. However, when I try doing seme-men the number of successes are about 1 on few dozens....I have to work on it.
At the end of Keiko Sumi Sensei took me to an hot springs, it was fantastic, we stayed in water not too hot and all pains residual of the Keiko disappeared. I have no words to thanks Sumi Sensei for that beautiful night in Karatsu.
March the 17th
As suggest by Sumi Sensei, I have contacted Honda Sensei, which is Associate professor of Health and Phisical Education at Fukuoka University, because he is responsible of the Syobukan, the Kendo dojo of the University. Since there was the graduation party of some of the Kendo students we had not a lot of time for Keiko. In Syobukan, I met again Ishi and Ikui that are practicing there. We did just 30 minutes of Mawarigeiko after a worm up. Students are very strong and fast. It was really a pleasure trying to catch them although it was very difficult, I had really a lot of fun.
The picture show the people involved in the Keiko, Honda Sensei is the one with the brown Do.
I met also Max, last person on the right of the picture, a British post-doc student that took one year work holiday to practice Kendo at Syobukan.
After the Keiko there was a shai where all graduating students have to fight against the rest of the Dojo. It was an experience to watch them fighting. After, Sumi Sensei was so kind to invite me to join the graduate party. It was really fun, good Japanese food and a lot of beer.
Tomorrow is the day before my presentation at the meeting and I have still to make some revision to my presentation but I will also take the last chance to make again Keiko at Syobukan.
March the 18th: Last Keiko in Fukuoka.
Honda Sensei organized a Keiko at 14:00 at Syobukan. This time no problem to catch the right train but some problem to find the Dojo. I asked to a very king Japanese woman in the University and she kindly took me there. Japanese kindness is incredible!
Back to the Keiko, eight students participate to it, I have to thanks them very much since the night before they had a very long graduation party with karaoke. Nevertheless, they were so fast in the keiko!!!!! We did a worm up, one round of kirikaeshi and 8 x 4 minutes mawarigeiko. I think my body is improving, I was sweeting a lot but I finished without being completely destroyed. I really had a great fun! I was very sad to leave the Dojo but this is life. On my way back to Hakata station I met also one of the students participating to Keiko, he spoke with me in English during all trip to Hakata. However, he did no say any English word to me in the Dojo, I think he was very shy of his English but he managed very well on the train, I think he needs only some more exercise.
I had four wonderful Kendo days in Fukuoka, the hospitality of Sumi Sensei was really amazing. Furthermore, practicing with many Sensei, and with Honda Sensei and his students at Syobukan I have collected many useful suggestions and informations to improve my kendo. I will get back to Italy with many thinks to put in practice during the kendo session at my Dojo.
This ends the Kendo part of my visit to Fukuoka. Tomorrow, I have my presentation at IIBM and many other interesting talks to listen.
Before ending a tip on the parquet in Japanese Dojo. They are very different from those where I am used to practice in Italy. Usually in Italy, we practice on parquet used for basket and volley ball. Parquet in Japanese kendo Dojo are more flexible and strong fumikomi is not painful.
March the 20th: Yagi visiting Yoshimura Sensei.
I arrived this morning in Osaka and my friend Chisato pick me up at Itami airport. After dropping the laggage at the Hotel and having a light lunch we moved to Yagi, the town where my friend live. Chisato introduced me to Yushimura Sensei, which practice Enshinryu. We spent together an extremely interesting half day. He introduced me to the Enshinryu which is a combination of various martial arts with weapons, i.e. sword, bo, etc., and with bare hands. If I have understood well the philosophy underlying this martial art is the detection of the early movement of the opponent and a counter action, with a lot of usage of taisabaki. He showed me some of the ancient kata with the sword and he was so kind to show me is old sword. He told me that the kata he is practicing were developed to allow fighting into the narrow streets of Osaka. Actually it was impressive as he could extract a long katana when the opponent is only at 30-40 cm distance. He also how me some techniques with the bo. It was a very interesting afternoon. After we had dinner together. It was a very pleasant dinner with a lot of talks and a very good shabu shabu. I have to thank my friend Chisato for the opportunity to meet such interesting person.