Friday, November 21, 2014

November 214 London: Visiting UCL and Hizen Kendo Clubs

I am in London for the 6th Annual Next Generation Sequencing Congress 2014, a very good opportunity to learn on the latest changes in the technology but also a good excuse to cross shinai with London's kendokas.

Wednesday the 19th of November  I went for the first time to UCL Kendo Club. Being a University club the average age of the kendokas was mainly between 18 to 25 and it was very nice to feel the freshness of those young people. The warm up was relatively brief and then we were divided in two groups: one for beginners without bogou and the other with the persons with bogou. The beginners were supervised by Joe and they were really a lot! The bogou group was instead supervised by Neil, the head instructor, and the  two hours practice were mainly dedicated to kion mixed with kirikaeshi. The last 15-20 minutes were left for jigeiko. After keiko we went for a beer and it was very nice to have some extra time to talk about Kendo with UCL people.

On Thursday the  20th I was again, after a long time, to Hizen Kendo Club. I was there about 5 years ago. They changed the location of the practice now it is on the first foor and the floor was incredibly soft as it was designed for professional dancers.
The initial part of the training was based on foot work and basic techniques without men. Then, we were divided in two groups: with and without bogou. We spent a lot of time on basic large techniques and the training was organized having 3-4 motodachi and the others practicing with them.
After the basic techniques we had a kion session in which motodachi were providing technique opening and kakarite has to apply the correct technique. After we had a brief session of jigeiko and I had the possibility to cross shinai with all the other kendokas. It was a very nice evening, where the supervision of Jeff Hum Sensei was very present and extremely useful.
I finished my evening with an hot wanton soup in a little restaurant near the Hizen dojo.

November 2014: Visiting Koryukan Kendo Club in Krakow

I was in Krakow from November the 3rd to November the 8th because  running a course at Jagiellonian University Medical College.

The course was very intense and I was so tired that I managed to go to Kendo only once during the all week spent in Krakow. I was at Koryukan Kendo Club. The training was two hours and we were about 10 persons. We had about 20 mins od warm up and then a long session of suburi that was very challenging. Then we did men tsuke and we started various rounds of kirikaeshi and basic kion at the end we had about 15 minutes of jigeiko and I had the possibility to practice with Hessel sensei (6 Dan).
The dojo is now 35 years old and on the first week of December my instructor W Pomero will go at  Koryukan Kendo Club together with other nana dan european sensei for this specific event.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

October 2014: Singapore

Also this year I was invited for the 4th Annual Next Generation Sequencing Asia Congress 2014.
It was a very interesting meeting and I had again the chance to spend sometime with my friends n Singapore and off course to practice Kendo. I was at the Singapore Kendo Club both on Wednesday and Thursday keiko. It was very nice to see again friends and cross shinai with them. I also used my camera in the men but for some unknown reason the videos came out corrupted.
I was more lucky with the videos visiting the Tanglin Kendo Club. You can find here some of the keiko and some picture of the delicious lunch with them.

Me and Yeo Sensei

Me and Jeno
Me and Olla

Me and Claire
Lunch after keiko

 I really had a great time. I really hope to be back in Singapore also next year.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

July 2014: Visiting Boston Kyokai

In July I was in Boston for the ISMB Meeting organized by the International Society for Computational Biology. This was my first time in Boston, a town in which you breath the perfume of high science. I also visited a couple of labs at the Harvard Children Hospital and I was impressed by the level of the science produced there.
Nevertheless I took the occasion to practice kendo. I contacted the Harvard and the MIT Kendo Clubs, but, unfortunately because of the summer holidays, the were not practicing in July. I was however very happy to go at the Kyokai Kendo Club. I was there twice and I was also very lucky because two 7 Dan from Japan were visiting the Dojo and we had a great keiko night.
 Below It is shown one of the jigeiko I had at that great night. Still a lot of work to do in Jodan, I have limited control on the right hand during the attack. The posture is broken ....  I have to work on it.
I will probably be back in Boston in December and I hope to visit again the Kyokai Kendo Club.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

May/June 2014: Prague, London & Heidelberg

May and June were busy months, because I participated to various meetings. I was at the Illumina Scientific Meeting in Prague. This time the meeting was a bit less interesting than the previous, too much commercial stuff and too little science. Also weather was not particularly pleasant it was cold and raining and although we were in may goulash was the ideal lunch.

Off course I took the opportunity to practice kendo for the first time in Prague. I was at Katsubo Kenrikai. Eliska, one of the students, kindly picked me up at the hotel and we went together by tram to the Dojo. The instructor is Miloslav Hotovec.
The training started with kendo no kata and I practiced with Miloslav. It was very useful because he highlighted some points o the 3rd with boken and on all three kata with kodachi that were very useful to me.
After we warm up and we did quite a lot of suburi and basic techniques. Practice continued with the men tzuke working on kirikaeshi and kion. The training finished with about half an hour of very nice mawarigeiko.
Last but not least after shower we went out to test the very good local beer in a pub near the Dojo. I really had great time there, and I hope to come back.

A week after I went to London for the NGS data meeting organized by Oxford Global. It was my second time there. meeting was very interesting and I also act as chairman for the first day session. In London I have practiced kendo in various dojo but I never been at the Imperial College Kendo Club and at the Mumeishi Kendo Club .
The first night of my time in London I went to the Imperial College Kendo Club

I had a very nice night and I was happy to meet again  Yoshikawa sensei, she was in Novara for the World Kendo Championship as translator. She speaks very good Italian.
 It was incredible that I met a student from Toronto and I realized that during my trip in Toronto in 2008 I visited also his dojo. Students at the Imperial College are very young and relatively low in grade but very committed. I had a great night there although I could not do my best because I hurt myself trying to avoid to be slammed by a Taxi. Nothing dramatic but for few weeks i could not make good fumikomi.

The day after I went to the Mumeishi kendo club, which is the oldest kendo club in London. I contacted Holton sensei (first on the left in the below picture).
 I was there very early so I also helped for the children practice. there was a very cute little Japanese child, no more than 4 years old, that was amazing and an other little lady maybe 6/7 years old very very committed.  The practice for the adults was quite hard and I had to stop various time because I was very very tired. Nevertheless was a very big pleasure to practice at the Mumeishi Kendo Club. After keiko I was at the pub with Holton and Yoshikawa sensei. Great evening!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Between February to May 2014: Munich, Rome, Voghera & Heidelberg.

2014 is  a busy year from the working point of view and I got little time to update my blog on the kendo travels.
Budo Muenchen Club: In February I have been in Munich for the first report meeting of the NGS-PTL FP7 research project in which I am involved. I took the occasion to visit the Budo Muenchen Club. The club represents a particular condition in the kendo world since they practice  Japanese feudal Kendo. The instructor is Thomas Preston, 5 Dan. The kendo practice, at the Budo Muenchen Club, comes from the knowledge gathered by Thomas in Japan and Hawaii. In the practice, they use the fukuro-shinai, which is heavier of a conventional shinai. They perform only large techniques that would be effective in an actual armored sword-fight.
I arrived a the dojo half an hour before the start of the training and Thomas told me about their practice and provided me a leather cover for my shinai. Thomas organized the training in the following way: we had a brief warm-up and then students practiced on basic techniques between them and they did mawarigeiko with me. It was a quite challenging training because I had jigeiko for 45 minutes without stop and I had to remember to use only big techniques. The students used always multiple techniques as shown in the video below.

I used a lot jodan no kamae since it was a quite useful kamae in this specific environment.  I also had to keep a high concentration to interact with a kendo style, which is quite different from the one I am normally used to.

A.S.D. Okami Kendo Roma, Accademia Romana Kendo: Later in the middle of February I was in Rome for the EPIGEN report meeting and I visited the A.S.D. Okami Kendo Roma and the Accademia Romana Kendo. I have already been at the Accademia Romana Kendo and it was nice to visit them again. I was particularly happy because the number of students at Accademia Romana Kendo was very high with a lot of new beginners. Instead was my first time at Okami Kendo Club. The instructor is Andrea Li Causi, 5 Dan.

Andrea practiced under the supervision of Gianfranco Moretti, 7 Dan, in Bergamo and when he moved to Rome he started the Okami Kenndo Club. The dojo is located in a very impressive multi-activity sporting center: Sporting Village.
The practice at the Accademia Romana and at the Okami is quite different. At the Accademia Romana, during the training, there are various groups divided by their level, which are bring together again for the final Jigeiko. At Okami instead the level is more homogenous and all practice is under the supervision of Andrea. Students are quite young at Andrea's dojo and the practice is very shai oriented. I had a very good time at both dojo and I hope to visit them again.
Heijoshinkan Club: It was a long time that I did not visited my friends in Voghera at the Heijoshinkan Club.  I knew that they started a training at 18:30 on Monday and I took the chance to visit them. It was very nice to see again Claudio Scacheri, 5 Dan, and all the others kendokas. We had a nice training focused on the right posture and mind for the yon dan exam, since me and other two at the Heijoshinkan Club will try the examination on the spring seminar at the beginning of June. It was a very nice practice and Claudio as usual put 100% of his spirit and knowledge to provide us the best hits to improve our kendo.

Ken Zen Kan Club: Usually I go in Heidelberg at the end of June for the Whole Transcriptome Data Analysis that I run with Vladimir Benes since 2010. This time I participated to the CORE for Life meeting at EMBL and I took the chance to visit again the Ken Zen Kan Club. I met Volker and his wife, Franco and many other friends. This time there was also an other guest from Canada, practicing nito. I had a great keiko with all of them.  After the practice I had the possibility to talk about kendo in front of a beer with Volker and his wife. I am looking forward to meet them again at the end of June when I will be in Heidelberg for the Whole Transcriptome Course.

Friday, February 7, 2014

January 2014: Visiting Bolzano Kendo

At the end of this January I was in Vipiteno to make a presentation in a very interesting School: Alp Nano bio International School. Thus, I took the chance to visit the dojo of my friend Peter in Bolzano, Kendo Bolzano,
Unfortunately  Peter could not join the training because he was abroad, but I had a very nice keiko with all the people at the dojo. Claudio the instructor of the dojo picked me up at the hotel and together we went to the dojo, which is located in a high school (German language). The school was very well maintained absolutely cleaned and with a nice gym. The dojo in Bolzano is quite new and still with a limited number of people. Thus we started the training in three Claudio, me and Enrico. Enrico is actually from Genova but, since he is in the Carabinieri, he is now located in Bolzano. The first hour was dedicated to basic techniques but, since we did the training in three was very challenging because we never stopped. After the first hour other two persons join the training and we passed the last hour doing jigeiko, 4-5 minute each. It was very challenging to have one hour jigeiko, but I did my best to survive. Enrico was very quick and it was very hard to make a good strike on him. Also Claudio was challenging because of his ability to control the opponent. It was nice!
After the training I was exausted but joined Enrico for dinner. We had nice talks about kendo and various other topics so also the after keiko was very nice.
We got the agreement that Enrico has to come to Torino to join keiko in our dojo and I have to offer him the dinner since it was impossible to convice him to make me paying.