Thursday, February 11, 2016

January 2016: Visiting kenkan Kendo Club in Patras

In January I was for the first time in Patras, a nice Greek town facing the Ionio Sea. I was invited by the Medicine school of Patras University to run a brief course on the new sequencing technologies and the analysis of data. It was a very nice time,  I had a lot of people listening to my course,  asking questions and discussing about the technology.
As usually happen in my trips, I was looking for a Kendo club and, in Patras, there is a  club called Kenkan. It was a bit difficult to find it because of the greek language, but I managed to get in contact with Spyros, an enthusiastic  3 dan, that run the club. He was so kind to pick me up at the hotel and, driving to the club,  we had the possibility to talk a lot about kendo. Spyros is really a great person very committed to improve his kendo and to make the Kenkan dojo growing.

The kendo community in Greece is small and it takes a lot of effort for the Kenkan people to  participate to seminars and competitions. The majority of events are in Athens and it takes  more than two hours by car to go to Athens from Patras. The dojo is located in a nice multi-functional private training center. The club is about 10 persons and I had the chance to meet 5 of them. The practice was based on warm up, suburi, kion and jigeiko. The students are young and very committed to improve their kendo.

Since we had two hours practice I had the possibility to practice kion and jigeiko with all of them. I liked very much their kendo, all students independently by the level showed a good posture, the techniques were very clean.
I would like to underline that this is the first time I do some comments on the student practice, because Spyros ask me for comments after the keiko.
The practice at Kenkan remind me what  my sempai, Luca Villa (6 Dan), told me when I was at the very beginning of my kendo practice. It was a Saturday and it was probably 6 months that I started kendo. Doing jigeiko with Luca, I was getting frustrated because he was always striking with ojiwaza, and I was unable to finalize any attach. So I started to stop his attach, after a couple of times that I was stopping his strikes without responding with any ojiwaza, Luca told me that stopping strikes without responding with ojiwaza was not improving my technique and he could not improve himself. He told me that at my level the most important point was finalize a strike, even one over 10000 would be a success. Practicing at Kenkan I have seen that all students were doing correctly their job: clean attach and they never stop an attach unless they were  trying to respond with ojiwaza.
It was a very nice evening, good kendo!
I was also very happy that we could spend some extra time  taking about kendo in front of a beer!

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