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.