Wednesday, May 19, 2010

May 2010: Back again in Heidelberg

I was invited again from Vladimir Benner to be one of the instructor of the Whole Transcript Microarray Data Analysis co-organized by EMBL and Affymetrix. I arrived on Sunday afternoon at Frankfurt airport. I really like to fly Lufthansa, I got out of the plane and in the time I needed to walk to the luggage delivery my bogu and shinai arrived, wonderful!
A shuttle bus service was waiting for me and in 70 minutes I was in Heidelberg. This time I stayed in an hotel down town and not at the ISG guest house that is nice but very far away from Heidelberg center. I was lucky since on Sunday there was a warm sun and I had a nice walk in the old Heidelberg town.
The course was fine, at least from my point of view, and students seemed to be happy with the information and training we have provided. On Tuesday I did not joined the social dinner and I went again to practice at Ken Zen Kan.
It was funny because one of the instructors asked me if I was going to visit my girlfriend. Well .... my wife should not worry about it I only went out for safe and nice kendo training.
I arrived at Ken Zen Kan quite early and I spent about half an hour talking to a young kendoka about Kendo. He got recently the 4th kyu and listening to him was clear how much he liked Kendo. About a quarter to eight all the other people arrived and I met again Volker the President of the Dojo and Franco. It was nice to see them again and it was clear that they were happy to see me again. This is something that is wonderful in Kendo, you go in an other Dojo and you feel like at home.
We started the training with a warm up, running stretching, suburi. Then we did the Rei and men tsuke.
As last time I was at Ken Zen Kan, Franco was taking care of the training of the beginners without bogu. Volker took care of the others. We started as in our dojo with basic kihon, big men, big kote men, big do. I had to be very careful in listening because my broken german is getting very limited and I was sometime missing words that I should know. We did the kihon changing partner every time and on one side of the dojo a person with the bogu was being motodachi for the advanced beginners. The idea is quite nice since the beginners do their techniques always again somebody different and this improve their skill. After the basic kihon we did some double attach like as kote, do; kote, suriage men. After we started jigeiko and I managed to do nearly with every body. It was really a pleasure, clean jigeiko that allowed every level ot express themselves. I am a bit disapointed since I did not managed to do jigeiko with the young japanese that joined the dojo for a couple of years since he is studing history at the Heidelberg University. I did only an exchange of kote men during the kihon and he was like a shinkanen, very very fast. I hope I will managed to do jigeiko with him next time I will be in Heidelberg. At the end of the training I was quite wet but not too tired, probably because the "heavy" training of Sumi sensei during the previous week end was particularly effective.
After training Volker was telling me that some of the people of the dojo will take a week holidays in Italy later this year and the will probably practice Kendo in the dojo of Angela Papaccio in Firenze. After the shower I got a lift from one of the students and I get back to the hotel. In the car we were speaking about the differences in the training in the various dojo and I told him that, at list on the basis of my limited experience, training is very similar everywhere and the real variable are the kendokas. I also told him that in our dojo beginners, that are much less of those I have seen at ken Zen Kan, start quite rapidly to practice with all the other and the lesson is usually divided in two parts, in the first the higher Dan behave as motodachi for the other for kihon and jigeiko then the practice is plit in two parts and higher dan do jigeiko between them as the lower grade between them.
Since it was quite late, when I got at the hotel, I took a big Doner Kebab a coke and a bottle of water and I had my dinner in my room.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

May 2010: Sumi sensei at Shubukan (second day)

On the second day Sumi sensei focused the lesson on bokuto khion done using shinai and bogu.
Sumi sensei sed that bokuto khion, done using shinai and bogu, is a kihon that is particularly near to modern kendo.
The idea of this kihon is the interaction between motodachi and kakaritè as in the case of kendo no kata.
Specifically he defined 9 basic kihon on which it is possible to design variation.
The kihon techniques we did during the second day of Sumi sensei seminar were based on shikake wasa techniques (1-4,7) and oji wasa techniques (5,6,8,9) :
1) men, kote, do, tsuki
2) kote, men
3) harai men
4) hiki do
5) nuki do
6) suriage men
7) debana kote
8) kaeshi do
9) uchiotoshi men

Next three video refer to the first kihon. All techniques were done initially using tsugi-ashi and then with fumikomi. We also tried various combination of the first kihon adding tsuba-zeriai for men, kote, do.

After a brief time doing the second kihon, kote-men first witht sugi-ashi and then fumikomi we moved to the third kihon: harai men
In the next video there is a summary of the description of the combination of the first three kihon:

Subsequently we moved to the 4th and 5th kihon:

Since the morning session was getting to the end, after the 5th kihon we practice 30 minutes jigeiko as already done in the first day.
We had about two hours break for lunch and then Sumi and Tashiro sensei followed the training of our young kendokas. A total of 12 children with age ranging between 6 and 13 years old were coming from the three main Kendo children courses our dojo is taking care within Torino. All students wear a bogu and took their training very seriously.
They started with basic subury (jodi/naname buri, chioyakumen) followed by basic big techniques (men, kote and do) without the wearing men. After they wear the men and started a set of big and small techniques having as motodachi their course instructors. The two Japanese sensei followed with great attention the training. At the end of the training all our little kendoka practice jigeiko with Sumi or Tashiro sensei.
Next two video summarised the jigeiko of my sun, Lorenzo,

and one of the youngest kendoka in our dojo, Vincent.

During the afternoon session we finished the series of the kihon and we practice various combination of them. It was a very interesting lesson, although since in the afternoon we did a lot of combination I do not remember them precisely. Unfortunately this part is missing as video because I run out of battery :-(
I have to admit that I was also quite tired after the hard practice of Friday evening and Saturday morning. At the end of the lesson Sumi sensei dedicated 30 minutes practice to jigeiko for persons having at least the 5th dan. It was very interesting and I registred some of them:

After we did again jigeiko for 30 minutes and I managed to practice with Zago (7 DAN) and again with Tashiro sensei.

They were two very interesting days with a lot of messages to be metabolised. Actually Sumi and Tashiro sensei had an other half day in Shubukan on Sunday in the morning, but I could not participate to it since I was leaving to Heidelberg were I will be one of the instructors of the Whole Transcript Microarray Data Analysis 2010 organized by Dr. V. Bennet. Next post will be dedicated to my sencond visit to the Heidelberg Kendo Dojo.

Friday, May 14, 2010

May 2010: Sumi sensei at Shubukan (First day)

This is not a usual report about one of my trips, but the report of the visit of Sumi sensei (8 DAN Hanshi) at our dojo in Torino.
Sumi sensei and his collaborator Tashiro sensei (8 DAN) visit our dojo in Torino every year. For all the people in the dojo it is a wonderful opportunity to learn a lot from this visit.
This time Sumi sensei will be in Torino from May the 14th to May the 16th.
We started the training at 8:00 p.m. We were about 50 persons mainly from Italy but there were also two people from Edinburgh (UK) and Mr. N. Yokoyama (5 Dan), in Italy for holidays.
This time I used a little video kamera located in the lower part of the men. Although it does not have the video quality and the wide view of normal video camera it give me the possibility to record the lesson and to practice at the same time.
We started with a brief warm up with stretching supervised by our instructor W. Pomero (7 Dan) followed by basic suburi.
Before the men tsuke Sumi sensei welcomed us to the seminar and guarantee an interesting and hard practice ^_^
After few rounds of kirikaeshi Sumi sensei started the lesson describing how to do a training about kirikaeshi. In the first part of the lesson he focused on the kakaritè site, which is summarized on the following video.

I apologize for the low quality of the sound but breathing silently in the men is quite difficult, especially after few rounds of kirikaeshi.
We run on kirikaeshi for some minutes and Sumi sensei described the training for motodachi during kirikaeshi, which is summarized in the next video.

We continue to work further on kirikaeshi and then we moved to some rounds of men tayatari men, men tayatari kote, men tayatari do.

After Sumi described how next round of jigeiko should be done. He focused on the point that there must be mind connection between motodachi and kakarite. Motodachi should let kakarite hit if the attack is genuine if not motodachi should use counter attack.
The jigeiko was set in the following way: kakaritè makes three long kiai and motodachi answer, after kakaritè make for big men followed by the kirikaeshi previously described. After kakaritè need to bring down to the tanden the power throwing out the breath twice before starting jigeiko. In the next video you will find a demonstration where kakaritè is W Pomero and motodachi is Sumi sensei.

We had about 30 minutes of this jigeiko which resulted to be quite heavy since when you get finally at the jigeiko you are completely without breath.
I managed to do a total of five jigeiko and I was so lucky to practice with all three Japanese sensei present at the seminar: Tashiro sensei first, then with Mr. N. Yokoyama and finally with Sumi sensei.
In the next video there are the three jigeiko.

The way I did the video showed me a tip I never realized, till now. During the jigeiko I keep turning around to sensei's shinai tip with my tip, trying to create an occasion to attach. This results on the fact that the sensei's shinai tip never get out of the center and instead I loose the center. So, I have to clean up my kamae removing useless shinai's movements.