I was rereading Otsuka Tadahiko’s Goju Kensha book series the other day and was impressed again by their content. I was struck by the many similarities in pedagogy the books described in relation to the Goju-ryu and Tou’on that I learned. One thing that I found interesting was Otsuka’s classification of kata into Go and Ju (strong and flexible). The “Go’ kata according to Otsuka were: sanchin, gekisai-sho, sesan, sanseru and pechurin. The “Ju” kata were everything else. Read More
I won’t forget this day. It was May 9 of this year and like always I made my way to the gym to lift some weights. I remember it was a good workout, but nothing out of the ordinary. The following day my forearms were a bit sore probably from the weighted dips I had done the previous day I thought. The next day at Kobudo practice my arms ached and made it a bit difficult to do Bo basics. Now I thought I had really over-done it with the weighted dips. By Monday’s Karate-do practice my arms felt like they had been bruised and beaten to the bone, but little did I know that it was only the beginning. Read More
Like any dojo, from time to time I am contacted by people who want to observe a practice or rarer still, want to train with us. Before I left for Japan, I received an email from a person asking me if I taught tonfa and sai, where classes were held, would I consider teaching privately, and how much would I charge. The request in the email struck me as a bit odd for a couple of reasons. First, all the information that was asked for, save the private lessons request, were on the dojo website. So, either I’ve not laid it out simply enough or the person didn’t bother to read it. Second, and more importantly, the request for private lessons and the associated cost seemed presumptuous and lacking propriety.
The next day Yoshimura sensei picked me up at my hotel. Before practice we went to Minowa sensei’s Ohaka to pay our respects. We burnt insense and said a brief prayer. It’s always hard emotionally for me visiting Minowa sensei’s resting place but it’s even harder on Yoshimura sensei who was his student for 20 years. As we drove to the dojo Yoshimura sensei commented, “even though I live in Amami, I don’t visit sensei as often as I should…” I don’t feel comfortable posting photos of Minowa sensei’s Ohaka; it just doesn’t feel dignified.
Saturday I was at Kagoshima airport, slightly hung-over from the night before (or was it this morning?) waiting for my flight to Amami. I texted Yoshinura sensei that I was on my way and would see him that evening for practice at the dojo. The flight to Amami was uneventful which is a good thing as I hate flying. It also gave me time to relax and reflect on my trip so far. I was halfway through it and though it had been exhausting (I’m still not 100% after this summers misadventure) it had also been rewarding. I was able to reconnect with my teachers, have my technique critiqued, receive corrections and even learn a few new things to boot. I suppose you could say things had gone swimmingly.
Friday I was back in Kagoshima to train with Miyagi sensei at the Ryushinkaikan. This time round I made sure to leave earlier from my hotel and take a taxi that had GPS in order to make it to the dojo by 6:30. Even with GPS the driver still had trouble finding the dojo! Luckily I had left early enough to make it to the dojo before Miyagi sensei. About 10 minutes later he arrived, dogi in hand and a smile on his face.
On Thursday I was back in Fukuoka to meet my friend Quint; a long time resident of Japan and Goju-ryu student under Kanari sensei and Shorin-ryu student under Murakami sensei. I met him at the Starbucks in front of Hakkata station were we chatted for a bit before heading out for some lunch.
Wednesday I was back in Beppu to train with Ikeda sensei in Touon-ryu. At 6:00 pm he swung by my hotel and by 6:30 we were at the dojo ready for practice. Compared to Sunday practices the Wednesday practice is much more open with each student working on whatever material he wants to focus on. For me that meant practicing kihon gata san (AKA Kowa kata) for most of the evening. From time to time Ikeda sensei would take a break from what he was practicing and comment or make corrections. I struggled with some of the segments but Ikeda sensei would patiently walk me through it.