Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Singapore July 2019

This year I was asked to run the RNAseq workshop at Duke-Nus twice in a year. This time the course was enriched by our new package on single-cell sequencing, rCASC. This year I had the help of three local PhD students: Mo and Yang (Computer Scientists) and Suhas (Mathematician). The students were incredibly smart and they managed to follow explanations and were able to master all the exercises I have designed for them. We also got a great feed back!

Since the last 10 years, also this year I had a lot of kendo: Sunday SKC (Changi Japanese School), Monday/Wednesday/Saturday Tanglin Kendo Club (Tanglin Community Center),  Thursday SKC (Clementi Japanese Elementary School),  Friday NUS Kendo club (NUS Sport Hall).

At SKC I was very happy to meet friends and practicing with them and having Bak Ku Tek lunch with Sida (Nippon Budo APAC).

 At Tanglin I spent three out of my six days of Kendo practice.

I was very happy to practice with my friend David sensei

and with all and with the Tanglin Kendo Club people.

At Tanglin I met Andrew Wong, which is a Jodan player from Canada. I did keiko with him twice over the time I spent at Tanglin and I got some tips to improve my Jodan practice:
  1. keep an aggressive posture
  2. keep the back foot ready to push at any time
  3. keep the long distance from the opponent
  4. counter balance the men strike with right fist moving back near the body
  5. just move the hand slightly on the left when executing kote
Great suggestions!

At NUS the lesson was run by my friend Oliver Ng from SKC. He did a very nice didactically  valuable lesson making in practice the concepts of "Sen no sen", "Go no sen" and "Sensen no sen". It was really a great lesson!

I would like to thank Singapore Kendo Club, Tanglin Kendo Club and NUS Kendo Club for their hospitality.

I will be again in Singapore in November to another RNAseq course at DUKE-NUS and enjoying kendo friendship!

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

3-5 of May Kyoto Taikai and Yuubukan. Getting back to Tokyo to return Italy.

After Yoshino visit, I went back to Kyoto to watch the Kyoto Taikai and to participate on the 4th of May to asageiko and to the World Kendo Network keiko kai organized by Maruyama sensei and Castelli sensei, the same day later in the afternoon. It was amazing to see at the asageiko so many 8th dan sensei. Because you need to be fast to do as much jigeiko as possible in an hour, I had prepared my men as japanese students do, it was already bound and I could ware it as a motorbike helmet. With this approach I did 4 jigeiko in the available time and the first jigeiko was with Tani sensei.

After asageiko, with my friends I watched the 7 dan shiai and I made a video of my sensei:

 In the afternoon at 14:00 we had the World Kendo Network keikokai and I had the possibility to practice with Castelli and Zago sensei and I asked them some advices for my incoming 5 dan exam.
Briefly, my seme seems to be reasonable, but I had to push with the back foot more effectively to have the right propulsion to strike men.  An important point is that I need to focus more on my kote and after striking I have to close distance, instead of waste it trying a slow two times kote-men.
The other point is that I have to go strait, not trying to go on a side of opponent before I finished my technique.
At the end of the day I was destroied and after a brief dinner I went to sleep.
The next day, Sunday the 5th, I went for the second time to Yuubukan with Alessia Caporaso, Luca Cerfeda and Lucilla Amerini. The two and half hours of keiko were particularly dense. After taiso with children we started various rounds of kirkaeshi followed by some basic attach and counter attach techniques. Then, we had nearly 40 minutes of jigeiko followed by few brief shai. I did with Alessia that won, then Luca did with two local Japanese and he striked a great yakudo. After the shai with Alessia, I had a shai with a local Japanese and I did the shai in jodan, I tried a couple of kote that arrived at the site, but not with the correct angle, the shiai finished without nothing done by both of us. Lucilla instead did with a Japanese first and then with Alessia.
It was a nice end of my staying in Kyoto. At 14:00 I was on the train to Tokyo, where I spent my last night and on the 6th I catch the flight to Torino.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Visiting Kawakami village

After the endo of the ISEV meeting I moved to Kawakami-Mura to visit my friend Chisato. I went to Kawakami-Mura with his brother Hiro. With Chisato and Hiro we have a long friendness that last more than 30 years.
In Kawakami-Mura I met Matsumoto sensei and I had to 30 minutes keiko with him for two days. Great experience.

I stayed in Kawakami-Mura village in the  Suginoyu hotel. All personnel is extremely kind and the onsen is very great. Japanese style breakfast and dinner are absolutely gorgeous.
I had a talk nearly every day with the chief of the hotel, which speak English quite well and he was so kind to give me various information about the Yoshino area.
With Chisato and Hiro I visited the country side. The Yoshino area is very green and it is a country area mainly devoted to the wood business. The majority of the forest is created by man and the wood is sold all over Japan for its high quality for furniture and houses.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

5th day in Kyoto

On day 5th I went with Donatella Castelli and Alessia Caporaso to Osaka to see the competition of all the Japanese prefectures. Teams of 7 people from high school student to kyoshi. The tournament was held in the same place where some years ago I have seen a Sumo tournament. We met there Lorenzo Zago (7 Dan) and we spent the all day watching the competitions.
 It was interesting to note that there was a jodan players in at least one out of two teams. Below you can see the video of one of the semifinal in which a jodan player was involved (Ibaraky white, Osaka red).
After the end of the  tournament we came back to Kyoto
and we finished the evening with udon!

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

4th day in Kyoto

Today is Sunday and it is the last day of the ISEV meeting. After the end of the congress I moved to the Miyakoshi Kaikan Sakyotobuikiiki Shimin Katsudo Center, where the training of the Yuubukan dojo take place on Sunday for 2 and half hours. Maruyama sensei invited me to practice in this dojo.
Donatella Castelli this time could not join us and I went there with Alessia Caporaso. This was a family kendo practice there where children with parents and adults. We started with a warm up done by two little kids. After, we did few suburi and we ware the men. At this point adults and children were divided. We made few lines in front of motodachi and we practice various basic techniques as well counter attacks. Then, we started nearly one hour of free jigeiko. It was a nice time and I did, with the majority of the people, keiko in chudan followed on the last ippon to jodan no  kamae. It was nice because with one of the opponent we did both an ippon shobu in jodan and I was striked by a wonderful kote in the stile of Chiba sensei. On the last keiko I was with the main sensei of the dojo. He asked me to go in jodan and after few strikes in chudan he move to jodan no kamae too, it was very great! After a while he striked me with a men that arrived before mine. Great keiko!
After, Alessia and me when with Maruyama sensei and his wife out for lunch. I had a nice sea food ramen. Then, I moved to the hotel, had a shower and I had a walk in Gion, then I when out for dinner with Donatella, we had a great unagi set to end smoothly the evening.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Third day in Kyoto: Budokuden

This was an exciting evening. I went to the Budokuden. We arrived early with Donatella and Alessia and before changing we had the possibility to have a look at a kyudo practice in the budo center.
Before our practice there were the children, very very committed!

Senseis were very friendly and some of them talked to me briefly. We started immediately mawarigeiko and I start my practice with a lady from SKC, which is in Kyoto to try the 6 Dan exam. Mawarigeiko was about 15 minutes (5 keiko) and then we had open jigeiko. All keiko were very challenging but, because of the quality of the all sensei all keiko were very useful to me to improve my posture and the work to find the right time for making an ippon. I had also a keiko with a very old sensei and I was amazed by his strength! It was practically impossible to strike any kind of technique to him and he was constantly pressing me.
At the end of the practice we quickly left and we went to eat gyoza with Maruyama sensei.
Great evening!

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Asageiko at Kyoto Prefecture

This morning I had the wake up at 4:45. Then, I walked to the Kyoto Prefecture where I met both Donatella sensei and Alessia Caporaso, one of the ladies of the Italian team, which is in Kyoto to study Japanese language.
The practice at Prefecture last only one hour but it is very intense. We started with a brief warm up and then we had suburi practice:
  • 2 men moving ahead and 2 moving back, then 5 big men passing, this was repeated 6 times. 
  • 10 haya suburi followed by 5 big men. This was repeated 6 times and the last repetition we did 10 passing big men.
During this practice I got some suggestions how to improve my movements.
The sensei running the practice, Ito sensei, at a point stopped the suburi and asked me to do the haya suburi. I was a bit stressed but then my suburi partner, Jack Champion, told me that Ito sensei used me as example of how haya suburi should be done 😏. For few seconds I was very proud of me, then we wear men and we made few rows in which we practice aiuchi men (three times), kote and aiuchi kote-men (three times). After three rounds of kirikaeshi, we had mawarigeiko for 15 minutes, then three 7th dan did a test for the 8th dan exam. After there was free gigeiko and I did with a 6th dan lady, the last 2 minutes of the gigeiko I was in Jodan no kamae. It was a nice keiko and at the end of it, as far as I could understand with my broken japanese, she told me that I was good and I striked a couple of nice kote. Then, she asked me when I was going to make my go dan exam and I told her in June and she wish me good luck 😊.
Then, I rapidly went back to hotel,  and after a quick shower I run to the ISEV meeting  were I spent all the rest of the day.
In the evening, I had a very nice dinner in an Indian restaurant with friends of Donatella. What can I say, challenging practice in the morning and friendly and relaxing dinner in the evening, it was a great day!

Keiko in Nara

I arrive yesterday in Kyoto.
During the day I started following the ISEV Meeting and at 16:00 I met Donatella Castelli (7 Dan) at Kyoto station. We went together to Nara to visit Inoue sensei. After a coffee at the station we went to the Nara budo center and we had gigeiko for one hour with Inoue sensei and an other 8th dan sensei.
In total we were 6 people and three of them 7th Dan. I was the last in the line ^_^
First we all did keiko with the two 8th sensei, then two local 7th dan did a test for the 8th dan exam. Then, we had free gigeiko and I did ippon shobu with the 8th dan sensei, in Jodan, and two brief gigeiko with a man and a lady. Those gigeiko were in chudan and only on the last ippon I move to jodan no kamae.
After keiko I got some comments from Inoue sensei. He told me that my upper part of the body shows a good posture and power, but my legs do not show the same power and frequently the tip of shinai reach the opponent before the right foot stamps on the floor. He told me that I need to better integrate upper with lower part of the body.
So I have some work to do ....
After keiko we had a nice dinner with Inoue sensei and we got back to Kyoto.
During dinner Inoue sensi said that when we do gigeiko any of our opponents has to be consider as our teacher and, independently from opponent level, we have to approach him/her with full spirit. I find this observation very important and complementary to a comment from one of my instructors, Bolognesi sensei (7th Dan), which told me that I have to practice as much as I can with people to whom I find difficult to interact and practice during gigeiko. Arialdo said that since the opponent is somehow difficult it mean that I need to add something in my kendo to be able to control and effectively practice with such person.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

My personal journey to Go Dan exam: - 2 months

After 6 years I am back to Japan for a Business trip. Yesterday, 24th f April, I was at Riken Institute visiting the lab of Dr. Hishikawa. I gave a talk on our vision of reproducibility in Bioinformatics and I had extensive and interesting discussions with him and his group.

Today I am traveling to Kyoto for the ISEV2019, the meeting of the  International Society for Extracellular Vesicles. This afternoon I will just made the registration to the meeting and try to role out how to handle the next days tight schedule of the meeting.
This evening, I will be with Donatella Castelli sensei visiting the dojo of Inoue sensei in Nara. I have meet Inoue sensei during one of the Italian taikai quite long time ago, and I very happy to be able, thanks to Donatella, to have the possibility to visit his dojo.
More about tonight keiko tomorrow ^_^