Category Archives: Japan Training Scholarship

Training as it comes

It continues to be a productive week, just a couple more days to go though and I’m looking forward to the beach training at Mooloolaba on Saturday, I hope many of my fellow students will be able to attend as more is always merrier at special training events and we get to swim afterwards or during the training. I also heard everyone gets to try and throw sensei martin in the water which will be challenging haha but we will see what happens!

We had an interesting session of throwing and sumo style wrestling in class yesterday where I got thrown backward while I jumped up by Andrew, it was a decently hard fall but very fun. We then lined up in order of size and weight and had a mini instant elimination round, it made it easier that we could drive the opponent out of the ring as well, which I used. Jack came up against me and there was a good wrestle before we both went down at the same time while kneeing each other… ouch haha though I feel that everyone starts out with good technique in mind, but when the wrestle gets more intense it sort of goes out the window and all sorts of interesting things and methods happen.

Its only Wednesday and the fatigue and muscle soreness has set in, so stretching is a number one priority at the moment. I’ve been waking up before my 5:30 alarm though which is very unusual for me as I love my sleep ins, should probably go to sleep earlier though haha.

On another note, I’ve been finding it hard to increase my weight, as my goal is to be above 75kg for this year’s tournaments so I feel fair to compete in the 75+kg division and have some extra weight to throw back at my opponents in the ring. I started in October when I bought a bag of mega mass protein, I used that and started to lift low rep, heavy weights in bench press, deadlifts and curls. I also ate as much as my stomach could possibly hold every day (which is just as much effort as working out sometimes surprisingly). This lasted just over 2 months, I have reached between 72-74 kgs depending on the day but still can’t crack the 75kg mark. I have since become lazier in my eating habits but maybe that’s just my body’s natural weight, or maybe I’m not trying hard enough haha

I’m still looking for my super Saiyan of the week, though I’m pretty sure I have a good idea who it is, so I am looking forward to trying to remember how to use Photoshop tomorrow haha

The Banquet

Sunday night after the tournament was the Banquet farewell party. A chance to get dressed up, give out little gifts and have a few drinks and social time with the people we got to meet and compete with over the weekend.

Because the tournament finished a few hours late, we only had about an hour to get ready by the time we got back to our hotels. Luckily the venue was only about a 4 minute walk, about and 8 minute walk for me as I was hobbling the whole way. I wore the same dress that i wore to my high school formal.  I was so happy I had another chance to wear it.  However, my foot was so swollen it wouldn’t fit into my fancy shoes.  It was probably a good thing, I don’t think my ankle would have held up. So I wore some slip on flats instead, which was a lot more comfortable.

Most people got quite dressed up, even the little ones and a lot of the Japanese girls were wearing kimono which was great.  I wasn’t expecting them to wear those kinda dresses i dont know why, but I just wasn’t. It was great to see all those pretty dresses, and it was weird to see some of the guys dressed all fancy, especially being so used to seeing everyone in gis all the time.  Sometimes you think they dont actually have other human clothes or is that just me……..

So we got to the venue and had a bit of social time before we actually went in and got seated, everyone was so tired and worn out. I was hoping to have a quick nap before the banquet but sadly had no time for that. Nozomi Satake came up to me and started chatting, Miyazaki Sensei’s daughter.  At first i didn’t actually know who she was, but she could speak English so I was thinking… she wasn’t in any of my divisions today.  I was confused at first, then it just clicked, oh right you’re Miyazaki Sensei’s daughter. I felt horrible that I forgot her face, she is such a lovely person.  Thankfully it didn’t take me long to place her, then I could talk to her normally like I knew who she was.  I was fortunate enough to grab a photo with her and her beautiful family. Later on in the night I was again fortunate enough to hold her 7 month old baby, who didn’t cry or was bothered that I was holding her.

When we were first seated we ware at set at tables from each dojo.  We had a table of the competitors and a table of supporters.  The supporters table was more mixed with other supporters from other places. We started of with a historical video about how the Chito-Ryu style came to be, also about the first generation Soke and the next generation Soke, and about Elvis Presley again.

We then had a few speeches,  just telling us to party and just a few finishing words to conclude the big weekend that came and went so fast. After the speeches beer was handed out to each table, probably not the best thing to come out first… Then a few nibbles were handed out to each table, some fish and chicken and sushi and so on. After a few glasses of beer Renae and I decided to get up and socialize, mainly handing out little gifts to the kids, we got way too much in return though.  Who needs to go souviener shopping now, done and dusted.  We however ran out of things so give back to them so quickly, started feeling bad about taking things and not giving anything back, but they really didnt care. We were lucky enough to squeeze some photo’s in with them.

It was a lot of fun going around and talking to people.  It ended way to quickly though only felt like 30 minutes.  I kind of didn’t want it to end. I was asked to do a shot of beer well a few shots of beer with the Canadians, how could i turn them down.  Afterwards though, I had to sit down. Also don’t know if it was a good idea or not, but Sam, Keanu and I did a bit of a team kata with Kihon kata San out in the lobby, was actually quite good considering Sam and I had, had a bit to drink. They weren’t up for doing chinto though 🙁

By this stage, everyone coming out saying their good-byes and giving their last hugs. A few of us were keen to go out for a bit of a bigger night, we followed some of the Canadians to a bar were we chilled out for a bit and had a few drinks mainly just talking and laughing a lot.  After that shut we hit a karaoke club, definitely not a good idea.  I dont know how but I ended up signing two songs, mocking bird by Eminem and eye of the tiger.  I don’t know how I got myself into that mess. It was great though, to see everyone trying to read the words on the screen.

Yeah time for me to call it a night, Sam was nice enough to take me back to the hotel, thank you. It was a great and eventful night, was a bit sad though saying good bye, mainly knowing that I would be going back home soon and to be honest I dont want to go back home.  I was loving it in Japan probably the only thing i was missing was my sister, but otherwise I could have stayed there for a lot longer. But I can leave knowing that I’ve probably had the best, most adventurous three weeks of my life.  Meeting so many new amazing people, finding my way around, training in many other dojos lots has happened in the past 3 and a bit weeks, very eventful.

But it’s time to go back home, to family work, karate training and well all the other stuff, operations, navy training and friends birthdays that I need to catch up on. Thank you everyone for everything while I’ve been over here. Got to go get on another flight.

Soke Cup Day 2

Day one was just my kata and team kata divisions, I had my kumite on day 2. I was very happy about this, because I could really get my head into the right state of mind to fight. On Saturday  I was pretty much the support person for people when they had to get ready for their matches. Watching everyone else fight, made me really just want to jump in and have a match with someone. It got me quite excited for the next day when I could compete in my kumite divisions.

Sunday morning I woke up, feeling not so ready to get in there and fight.  I think I got a little bit nervous. Mainly because there’s always this thing I do coming up to a tournament.  I tell myself things like: every time they attack just block and counter, or only aim for the body as my head shots never really work for me, or just follow through and keep attacking instead of stopping after 2 techniques… Every time I do that I feel confident about it, but as soon as the match starts I think too much about it, get lost in my thoughts and because of that I always loose the match and never do what i tell myself to do.

With this in mind, I decided to go in without a plan of what to do, instead, I was just gonna stay light on my feet, keep my guard up and just deal with whatever comes my way.  I have done enough training to do something with it and use it to my advantage. As soon as i got to the tournament venue that morning, I listened to some Eminem music and got straight on the mats. Just moving around getting use to the feeling of the matts, doing some of my combinations and the 8 direction movements. Mainly just getting my body warm, getting it moving trying to get a bit hot and sweaty. It seems as though if I go into a match feeling as though I’ve already had 2 matches I fight better.  When I’m properly warmed up, I’m ready, faster and my head’s more in the game, so that’s what i was working towards.

I was on the mats warming up and jumping around until we got told to get off the mats for divisions to start. Sami also came over and helped me warm up.  We did some small matches and each time Sami would do a different fighting style.  Thanks sami, it was actually very helpful. After I was told to get off the mats i sat in the marshalling area, watching other people fight. Getting ready for my fight I was trying not to think about my match, just watching the other matches was a great distraction. So many great points were scored, also a bit of wrestling on the ground was going on as well, and many injuries. Every match that went on was interesting to watch.  I very much enjoyed it, every match was always different and very action packed.

“Klaudia Caston”… well it sounded nothing like that but eventually they found me to line me up for my division. I was the first fight up which I was and wasn’t happy about.  I wanted some time to watch the first fight as i was up getting warm, but sadly I didn’t have time for that. There were two 16 year olds and two 18 year olds in my division.  There were two from Japan and there was Tiffany and I from Australia. I don’t actually know who I fought first, but walking onto the mat up to the line i was quite nervous but also didn’t have time to be nervous.  I was also very excited to get in there and fight someone I’ve never fought before.

“Hajime”… to start off with i was just keeping my distance, I wasn’t going to loose my head and rush in for the first attack.  I dont know who attacked first but i got the first point to the body I think. I can’t give you to much detail, when your in the match it all goes so fast you dont really realise what is happening sometimes. back to the line…

“Aka chudan zuki ippon”

What?  I didn’t even know i scored, yay good for me.

I got back in there jumping around a bit, then I go for a round house kick at the same time my opponent moves in so it turns into a knee to the side, but as i bring my foot back down well lets just say there i am on the ground holding my ankle.  Damn thing, I just want to cut it off.  I must have rolled it or sprained it.  It was on the same ankle that was already injured. So hobbling back to the line, only one good foot left.

I was so angry that it had to happen today in my first match.  I was thinking well this is going to mess me up.  I can’t keep up to these girls now, I can’t even walk! But anyway the match had to continue, point straight away to the opponent, and guess what another point to the opponent! Typical, I actually would of had a chance if my ankle didn’t get hurt.

I felt ready, I felt great before the match. I think when I got back in there, I knew she was going to win so i just went for it.  I pushed the pain away and attacked, I scored! Yes.  I still didn’t have too much hope but after getting that point I could feel the adrenaline rush through me and I was ready to go again.  I got out there knowing time was running out I did another sequence of attacks and I scored. “Aka no kochi!”

I won the match! I couldn’t believe it.  That was my goal, done.  I’d achieved it, even with an injury I was quite proud of myself. As soon as I got off the ring I sat down and I actually cried.  I never cry.  It wasn’t because of the pain, I think it was because I was so angry that it had to happen on this day, when for the first time ever i actually felt great.  I was attacking, I was quick, clean shots, I was light on my feet and I though I had a very good chance to come first or second, I was just hungry I had the fight in my eyes and my heart.

I got told to go to the other side.  I literally hopped the whole way around.  I was scared they were going to tell me I couldn’t fight.  I dont actually know if there was a fight before mine or I whether I was up straight away.  I think I must have been straight up, because as soon as I put the ice pack on I was called up to fight. Not good, didn’t even have time to rest the ankle.

I hobbled onto the ring.  To be honest, this fight went too fast, I dont even know what happened.  I do know that I definitely scored one point, possibly two.  I can’t actually remember.    I lost that match but I was still so happy that I scored one or two points.  That was still great considering the pain. If my ankle was good, I felt as though i could have won that match, but we’ll never know.

I’m  out now though, as soon as you loose a match your out. Oh well, I think I still did well.  I was happy and I achieved my goal.  I have no complaints. A lot better then I was expecting.

After the division Tiffany had to help me off the court back to the marshalling area. Sempai Anthony then carried me to the first aid area, where they sprayed me with this really cold stuff and taped me up. Thank you Anthony and Tiffany I appreciate the help, I needed it.

Team kumite in less than an hour, yay! I’m not the kind of person to give up or pull out especially after I have trained for so long for this day.  I wasn’t going to just sit out.  It’s just not who I am. So they put me first the in order As yes i had a chance to score a point but a low chance to  win the match.  So it was all up to Renae and Tiffany to win their matches.  I’m sorry girls but least we had a shot and got the do some more matches instead of forfeiting.

I did score a point.  It was a good point too, it had good pull back and was speedy.  I know that one was to the body but then my opponent scored three points on me in a row.  Considering that I was pretty much moving around on one foot I’m still happy to have scored. There was three teams.  A Japanese team which we fought first, a Canadian team and us, the Australian team.  Because we were running out of time we didn’t actually get to fight the Canadian team, the Japanese team won twice and they just determined that the Canadians came second because they scored more points against the Japanese team then we did.  I was unhappy about this, I wanted to fight them.  I think we would of had a close call between the two teams if we had the chance to fight them.  Anyway judges ruling, had to respect their decision.

I was happy to be done though to rest my foot.  It was hurting so much I managed to make my way up to the seating area, in time to watch the drummer preform his demonstration. It was the same one he did at the start of the tournament, but was still very entertaining to watch. After the drummer there was the finals for the Mens Team Kumite, it was Australian v’s Japan.

It was great to watch.  Pretty much every point people were oooing and ahhing also some “ouch that would have hurt” getting yelled out amongst other things. And it was very entertaining, Our team had Sensei Martin, Sensei Adam, Anthony, Keanu and Brendan. Watching all those matches was so exciting, wondering who would score. As that was going on there was some AUSSIE AUSSIE AUSSIE OI OI OI”S going on competing with the Japanese squad right next to us chanting for their team.  I dont know what they were saying haha, but it was hard to over power the amount of noise they were making. Our Australian team came second, great work guys!

Time to pack up the matts and do the finishing ceremony, medal presentations and a few finishing speeches. Somehow calling out the girls from my kumite division, I heard my name for 3rd place.  What that can’t be right they must of made some kind of mistake there. I had no idea that I came 3rd.  At the end of each division for everything they dont tell you the results they just bow and we leave the arena which was annoying you just wanted to know what happened.

But it was an amazing surprise for me.  I was very happy that I made it.  I wasn’t expecting it at all and I wasn’t even trying to place. We also got presented for our team kumite.

Congrats to Sami who got best spirit in her kumite fighting. Amongst many other Australians who placed in their divisions and who got age champions there was many Australians being called up. Great work every one, you all done so great and over all I think we should all be so proud of the work that we’ve all done.

I think a thank you to Anthony to keep everyone’s spirits up and keep the fight going in everyone and thanks for using your voice for our chants.

Thanks you Sam Hunt for being such a great supporter throughout the weekend, taking videos being there for literally everyone’s matches rooting for them and helping them out and for carrying my bag to the tram.

Thank you personally Sami for warming up with me and keeping my spirits and and making me laugh.

Thank you Sandra and Martin for the support and great advice and teaching before hand, it definitely prepared me for this weekend.  I was prepared and ready.

Whoops sorry guys gotta go through security whoops at the airport now doing the blog hehe gotta run.

But after we had some opportunities to do some photo bombing.

 

Day 1 of Soke Cup!

Sorry i haven’t posted in a while, I’ve been super busy.  I have had some full on adventurous days, full of touring and karate, getting ready for the tournament.

I woke up this morning, normally, felt like a normal day didn’t even feel like the big tournament day that we’ve all been working towards for over a year now. I didn’t know what to expect I was just going to go and take whatever comes my way.  I didn’t want to freak myself out by getting nervous.

We finally reached our destinations and walked into the gymnasium.  There were so many people from all around the world.  Many I had already met as i’ve been here for three weeks training with some of them. There were so was many friendly faces.  I had some conversations and a few laughs before entering. Everything was set up, all the matts, flags everywhere from every dojo, people practising, laughing, talking. It was a lot to take in but it actually felt amazing, just to be there surrounded by all those people.

After a little bit we were all lining up in our dojo’s team jackets on to get ready to be shown off to the judges, support teams and to each other for the opening ceremony.  Walking in as a team with the uplifting music in the background and people clapping, the feeling it gives you is un-explainable.  If you could feel like that all the time, wow, what people could achieve, no more grumpy faces walking around. It was very uplifting and got you excited for the day ahead of you.

My first division was straight up, team kata, guess what we came first! You know out of two teams, but still was better then second. I then had my individual kata division to prepare for which wasn’t until 2:30pm, which became like 3:30 or 4:00 as we were quite behind on scheduled. Until then i turned into the camera girl, for Sam, which was good cause it distracted me for what was coming up.

I did however notice that my Kumite wasn’t until tomorrow.  I was in a division of 5 girls including me,  I was told there would only be 4 of us in tomorrow final round! Does that mean we fight today and eliminate one person or what?  It took me forever to figure it out, no one could really help me, they were confused as well. But I got told to just follow the timetable so that what’s I did. Was very stressful though as I wasn’t in the right mind frame to just be randomly called up for a fight. That takes preparations. Anyways I just kept calm and tried not to think of it.

During the day I met so many new people handing out my little koala key chains to people and chatting.  I got so many people always coming up and just giving me lollies and trinkets and things they have made, was a great atmosphere.

Time for my individual kata, it was busy.  We has Sami to watch, then Sensei Sandra and Mum.  Then Keanu’s, Sam’s, Sensei Martin’s and Anthony’s division was up.  Then mine after all that. As a result, I didn’t actually get much time for much practise, as i was so busy watching everyone, seeing how they went and filming people’s kata. I literally put down Sam’s phone and passed him as I was going in for my division, it was quite a hectic time of the day. Only 5 girls in my division, I was 2nd up.  Two of them were 16, one was 18, plus Tiffany and I. I was up second I didn’t watch the girl before me, I didn’t want to freak myself out. Still not nervous though, so weird. Whoop there’s that familiar name, that’s me, hopefully I’m ready to go. As I walk out onto the mats it still feels like im just in the dojo practising, I’m thinking this is great. I said the name of the kata, started the kata than bam, it hit, my about my 3rd technique in.  I don’t think it was nerves, I think it was just the realisation that I’m here.  Finally, what I’ve been training for, it’s happening, I’ve hardly had a chance to take it all in, wait what, the scores are being called out.  I must be done. I found myself breathing a bit to heavily, waiting to bow and walk off the mats. Wow, I was thinking that was good, still hardly knowing what score I got, if it was good or bad. When the next three girls went, we all stood up the judges came over and called out first, second and third. My name wasn’t there maybe I didn’t go so well. Oh well i actually wasn’t too fussed over it surprisingly.  I think i am just happy to be here in Japan competing in the Soke Cup.  If I place, great, but I don’t think I am personally expecting anything great to happen for me.

Remember this is just my personal experience and thoughts, everyone is different, some people are freaking out, some people don’t care and some people are just doing their own thing, getting ready to compete.

After that though i didnt have anything else on until tomorrow so was just time to relax and support others. I was glad that my kumite wasn’t today, for me i need more time to get my head in the game and is hard when im thinking of both kata and kumite, so tomorrow i can just focus completely on kumite nothing else. This is only a short blog mainly just telling you the first part of the tournament weekend. Tomorrow i will talk about the Kumite i experienced and watched today and what i experienced personally with my Kumite divisions tomorrow. I am very much looking forward to it though, watching the kumite today.  I’ll tell you about tomorrow, really got me excited for my fights and a little  scared, as there was a lot of injuries.

 

Very Interesting Morning Session

It was a very exciting and interesting morning session today, our last one with Soke Sensei. Part of the Canadian team joined us for this mornings session, there was a lot of people in the dojo! Maybe 26 altogether. Lets just say there wasn’t much room in the sohonbu after we all lined up. We went through the longest seiza I’ve had since I’ve been here, probably about 30 minutes, we’ve been doing about 20 or 25 minutes. Then Sensei Sandra led us through a 20 minute warm up and stretch. Then Soke sensei had us all introduce ourselves, by the end of that it was 7:30 am so we had about 30 minutes worth of training left.

We did some basic stepping which was like 3 steps forward and back.  We then did some partner work open hand blocking and punching which got into high speed, continuously kept swapping, in uchihachi-dachi and shiko-dachi.  After that we did a balance test game, same as we do it at home in all the seven standing stances heisoku-dachi to sonkyo in each stance we would try push each over, who ever lost got to be the special person to do 10 push ups. Guess what, I lost every time except for the last time, yay. So I ended up doing 60 push ups on the wooden floor on my knuckles. That was so much fun!!! Ha ha ha not, it hurt.

By the end of that it was the end of class it was a lot of fun, we then had about an hour of taking tooooooooooo many photos groups photos single photos, lots of photos! It was great to meet everyone they were all so nice. Todd Sensei then took us through the tour of the Dojo and what all the master and high Sensei’s written on planks of wood that hung on the walls of the dojo. Sami caught me giving her a weirdo look, she just had to take a close up.  Meanie……………..


We found out a lot of amazing information about Chito-Ryu.  For example, did you know that Hank Slemansky Sensei trained here in Kumamoto? He then moved to America after his military career was up, and one of his students was actually Elvis Presley.  So Elvis actually studied the same style of karate that we do.  I found that absolutely fascinating, as I love Elvis and when I found out that he actually got a black belt in karate that made me look forward and be proud of working towards mine. But to find out that i am actually doing the same style as him is mind blowing for me. If you look back in some of his albums you see Elvis wearing a silver Chito Ryu crest pin on one of his suits.

We also found out that O’Sensei is the only person in Chito Ryu that has received a gold belt, which means that all head Sensei of each Dojo in the world came together and discussed who they thought has made the biggest contribution to Chito-Ryu karate and the all agreed that O’Sensei deserved that honour. He is the only one that can wear the gold Chito Ryu crest pin. 

We then got shown some of the weapons and we got to try out the metal bo, which is made with two bos.  The objective is to make the inner bo vibrate while using it.

Sami also ran into the wall while doing souji trying to beat Sam to the end i don’t know who won, Sami definitely hit the wall first.

Last Days Before The Typhoon

Friday we didn’t get up to a whole lot during the day, mainly just trying to relax and recover from injuries bruises ect. Sam, Helen and I did go out for a short walk, and some Lunch at a sushi restaurant.  I had some nice salmon and prawn dishes, still looking for some cooked tuna dishes but can only seem to find raw one.

We also bumped into Soke Sensei at the 2nd street store (the second hand shop).  He was joking about being bored waiting for his wife to finish shopping and looking for things.  We had a bit of a talk to him just about the typhoon and Soke Cup and things like that. Was funny seeing him out and about, he has a funny sense of humour.

That night was possibly our last session with Soke Sensei as we still don’t know about Monday morning yet.  At the start of the session it was quite full on.  Partner work, started with some basic stepping and keeping the timing, we then did some fast laps of just stepping forward and attacking and the other would just block as they stepped back. literally just chasing the person to the back wall, we did a few laps of that. Then we got into some kicking laps of speedy kicking, then some kicking and countering, after the kick. We did done two laps of each progression, and by the end we were all drenched in sweat, and this was only the first 15 minutes of class.

I quite enjoyed the high intensity work out, I kind of wanted to do more of it. But we then got into kata started with Kihon kata ich and all the way to shihohai.  Speedy kata, which makes you feel so out of whack.  Your technique is never stable or strong, mainly getting through the kata as quickly as you can. Once we got to Shihohai we did the basic timing, going up to chinto in our own time. I was mainly focusing on keeping my heels down during stepping and working on my shime and hikite. It was good kata practise time for Soke Cup, so I spent more time on my chosen kata; looking at the little detail, speedy areas of the kata and where to slow it down more.

We then broke into some groups Sam, Helen and I were with Mark Sensei from the Blue mountain.  He took us through the advanced kata again but in more depth, details, correct position and what certain moves and attacks are meant to be doing giving us more knowledge about the kata.  We spent more time on Seisan, Bassai and Neseishi dai. I found this very helpful to tidy up my kata.  Thankfully only a few tweeks nothing  major, but things I wasn’t aware of.

At the end of class we done some souji as you can see we are getting better and better every time. Also got to take a few group photo’s with Soke Sensei.

 

Saturday morning Semi led us through some stretches again.  After that we did some preparations for the typhoon, just brings stuff inside and tying up the window covers outside. We headed of to the zoo catching the train, then the Tram about a 45 minute ride to get there. There wasn’t a hole lot open that we could see, we did see some elephants and giarffas, and a few other animals.  It was nice just getting out and doing something though. I got a nice little snack and snow cone from one of the food stalls there, which was actually quite yummy.

Sami found her little ruby, a pet from the gift shop that she’s gotten the past two times she come to this zoo, but each time she looses it.  She’d better not lose this one. From the zoo we went back to the city centre and had a look at the festival, there was a lot of food stalls, that looked quite interesting, and a lot of sporting activities set up as you can see Sami participated in some of them, looking good really hacking them.

After such a long day we did some food shopping and headed home to rest our feet and have some food. I got a little bored so I went out and watched the Sunset at around 7:10 pm. Sam joined me, we pretty much just done a lap around the park. It was so beautiful though, half the sky looked like a calm storm and the other half looked like a beautiful sunset, blue sky with some orange clouds.

When we got back Sam, Helen and I decided to go back to the festival, just for something to do.  To see if there was any parades or anything interesting to look at.  There wasn’t a whole lot, we saw a lot of the dancers all dressed up and fancy.  There a clown make up on and some pretty cool big costumes.  And a really impressive mime dancer, that had some crazy body control, was incredible to watch, hopefully I can upload the video. After that we pretty much just headed home.

I’m sitting here now Sunday Morning in my room listening to the wind outside blowing things about. We are home bound for the day, don’t know how i’m gonna get through it as I’m not the type of person to sit inside all day.  I might go down and do some kata practise I guess.  Its handy having the dojo just down stairs.  If the weather turns out to be good, we might have Kobudo training at the hall, but I kinda of doubt that’s gonna happen. I am really hoping that we have morning training tomorrow though, just to have another session with Soke Sensei.  I have been enjoying them a lot and want to take advantage of the opportunity to take in his training as much as I can while I’m here.

A few more fun days

About 25 minutes into seiza… due to finish up any second now.  It doesn’t even hurt anymore, yes uncomfortable, but not painful and no numb feet. Thank god the seiza is getting easier and I’m not dreading it so much.

Just the usual morning session, stepping, kicking, speed laps, and kata. But to finish up, we did some bunkai – nesashi bunkai and henshuho. I was with Todd Sensei which was quite insightful, even though I felt like was practically doing everything wrong, hahaha. He taught me some tiny little detailed thing that really helped and made me put in less effort. Just things like lift the arm higher and hold the arm in a particular place.

I was thrown quite a few times surprisingly didn’t hurt so much considering it was on wooden floor.  The first throw I was so scared, falling to the floor, screwed up face ready to hit the ground, when suddenly it just stopped I was caught about an inch from the floor from Todd Sensei. He doesn’t like throwing on wooden floor as it is dangerous. He did let me go down a few times, but wasn’t hard at all.

During the day, I took Sam up to the golf driving range to hit some balls. Luckily, it was quite a quick walk, now that I knew where to go. When we got there, it was simple for Sam to say what we wanted just pointed to the sign and said two. That didn’t work for me the last time though haha.  About 3 minutes later we had our stuff and was heading to our golf platforms.  Last time it took 20 minutes for me to get there, oh well I got a free ice coffee hehe.

Of course, my ball machine was broken, I don’t know if this place likes me or hates me.  As I went down to tell them they gave me another coin for 50 balls and a new platform. So, we got to use the balls that I had already put in the broken one, so instead of 50 each we got roughly 70 each, yay. I hit some pretty good shots this time, got to about 150m a few times, turning into a pro.  Then again, I hit some pretty awful ones as well. Sam seemed like he had it all sorted out, hitting the top of the net and over the 200m lines.

After that we headed back towards home through the park and walked into mister donut.  I couldn’t resist having another mango sorbet cup. After that though and eating the ice out of my water I was freezing cold sitting in the aircon. I was actually looking forward to going back in the heat, but I knew as soon as I got out there I would want to go back into the aircon.

As we walk out the heat hits us like a brick wall, I’m quite used to the heat now, it’s just like a hot summer day at home. But the sun, it’s like a vampire walking into the sun it feels like you’re on fire, the first week while we were here it was pretty much cloudy every day only really started getting sunny Saturday when Helen arrived. We have been using umbrellas, which I highly recommend getting one that you can fit in your back pack, they are very handy if you’re going be out adventuring all day.

On the way home, we picked up some more food supplies, drinks and food and popcorn yummy. I had a shower when we got home because it was so sweaty.  Then we sat down in the aircon, popped the popcorn and watched Rogue One, as we still had a few hours before Kobudo training. I kind of fell asleep in Sam’s room for a while and didn’t get to see the end of the movie, but it’s hard keeping your eyes open when you’re really exhausted, so I let myself get some sleep.  Hopefully I didn’t disturb Sam too much as he was still watching the end of the movie. Apparently, I move around a lot, sorry.

At 7:40 we got picked up for our Wednesday night kobudo training at the hall.  We were working more on the demonstration for the Soke Cup, working hard as there a chance I might have to perform it at the Soke Cup with the Australian team, not quite sure yet as nothing has been confirmed but we are all training as though we are doing the demonstration. Going into more detail instead of just memorizing the sequence. Which we are very lucky to be getting that kind of treatment, and going through basic’s 1 to 15.  I’m loving going through the basic’s, I find them very enjoyable and fun to work on.

My eye. Urgghhhhh was hurting a lot again during the training, I was like one eye willy.  I kept it closed pretty much the whole training. It was pretty bad the pain of just looking, just constant aching. Really frustrated me as, my eye was feeling perfectly fine for the past two days straight, without any dramas at all.

 

Because of my eye, we skipped out on the Thursday morning park training.  I was very much looking forward to it, but I think my eye needed some rest. Early in the morning I got up and got an ice pack for my eye, the pain was so bad I just wanted it to go away and was hoping the ice helped. After an hour or two of holding it there it started feeling better just in time for our 10-12 Kobudo training.  It was still annoying to train with, as it was quite distracting but you just work through it.  I was looking forward to the end of class though just to rest my eye and not have to look around so much.  But I didn’t want it to end because it was bo training.

After breakfast/lunch or as the hobbits say second breakfast, we found ourselves sharing our bruises stories and we all had a few identical bruises.  We’ve working hard of course and got some battle scars to prove it, mainly bruises on the elbows, hips and back. And a few weird ones that we have no idea how we could have gotten them, but then again Steven has been kicking people in his sleep and Sami’s been like a sleeping ninja at times.

Helen, Sam and I headed out for something to do.  We went to the city centre, thought it might be a good chance look at some shoes, shirts and souvenirs. We took the train to the end of the line and caught the tram into the city. Was very handy and a lot better than walking when your feet are trying to sabotage you.

We got some Maccas for the first time since being in Japan.  I actually quite enjoyed it, it was nice trying something that you know.  It wa a little weird as they put your drink in a bag as well. I got handed a plastic bag with two brown paper bags in it.  At first, I was like god what did I actually order, that’s a lot of food.  But in one of them was of them was my drink.  A bit weird but okay.

We then headed to the big department store which was mainly designer clothes so was quite expensive, but we did find a bit of a Kumamon souvenir section.  We also found a second hand shop, where we seen some beautiful shoes and also found a $300 shirt, in a second hand shop. Sam should have bought those shoes, they would of looked so nice with his outfit for the banquet.

After a bit of looking around we decided to head home, we had training in two hours and wanted to rest and eat beforehand. It was good getting out even just for a bit of a walk around and look at some different scenery. It was great getting back and just putting our feet up in the air-con though. I got a little bit of sleep till Sam woke me saying it was time for training.

We went downstairs a bit early to have a bit of a pre-training chat and mess around. We had a warm up then Sensai Sandra took over taking us through Kata, focusing on eye’s, knees and pull back.  We then partnered up and took turns doing kata, with the other person checking  their stability, giving a poke every now and then.  There were a few areas of kata where I could strengthen my stance, mainly kosa dachi. I got to partner up with Misaki san I think her name was, she is a Tokyo champion in Kumite and Kata, so it was a little bit intimidating performing in front of her.  It was also amazing to watch her perform her kata, it was quite entertaining to watch, the speed, accuracy, smooth transition. I felt very lucky to be able to train with her and have her give me some pointers and tips.

It was another fun and enjoyable day, with a nice ride on the Kumamon Train.


Friday Morning, possibly out last morning session with Soke Sensei, depending how bad the typhoon is. Yes, there will be a typhoon hitting here Saturday night mainly Sunday, deja-vu same thing happened last Soke Cup in Hong Kong.  We were all hotel bound for a whole day in Hong Kong. Looks like we will be Sohonbu bound for the whole of Sunday, kind of messed up our weekend plans but oh well, it will be interesting.  Hopefully it doesn’t scare Steven too much we will take care of him though.

Again, the same morning session as usual, but for the end part we got to get into partners and one would hold a wooden knife/sword, they would step forward and either stab or slice down. It was our job to block or disarm the attack and finish up with a counter. This was weird, I’ve never done an exercise like this before, it wasn’t too hard, but at the same time, hard to come up with different ways of countering. At one stage, I pretty much did the same thing three times in a row.  I thought I might mix it up a bit so I engaged as it was coming and took Sam of balance, it took him a bit by surprise I think too. My turn to slice him up, he had a few different blocks and counters than me.  I wanted to try out as well.  I think he possibly could have got cut a few times though. This exercise was a lot of fun to work with, its good doing different things every now and then.

I can’t believe it’s already Friday.  I feels like it should still be Tuesday.  These past two weeks have gone way too fast and I don’t want it to end so quickly.  I am looking forward to the rest of the team meeting us here though.  It is something to look forward to, but it also means it’s coming closer and closer to going home.

 

Visit to Miyazaki Sensei’s Dojo

Tuesday, 6:30 we headed to the park for morning training, has Sensei Martin watching via video chat, just doing some performance kata and kumite training.  Sami wasn’t feeling so well, so was just Sam and I for Kumite which i found very good as Sam always pushes me to work harder and go faster. Also it was Helen’s first park training. She only did the kata part of the session, then turned into a photographer for the next part.

Came home, had showers, and ate.  Then, we pretty much Jump into the next session Kobodu. Mark Snow Sensei and Adam McDonald Sensei from the Blue Mountains joined us for the class.  They in Japan the day before, was a good session, but a bit tight for space with 7 people holding bo.  But we got through the class without injuries. Just working on shishi no sho demonstration and basics 1-15.

At 5:30pm we were going to get picked up by Miyazaki Sensei and go to his Dojo which was about a 40 minute drive through the city. It was a very different class, at the start we pushed back our lines to the back of the class. I thought we were going to be jogging laps of the dojo, but we literally just walked across and back.  It was so weird.  We then walked backwards, then we skipped, not skipping with high knees, we skipped as though we were little girls with a lollie pops.  It was a very different warm up than I’ve seen over here so far.

We then did some basic stepping but with out hands on our hips instead of behind our bodies which again didn’t feel quite right. We then split into groups and had the opportunity to teach again.  I was scared of that, however I only had two yellow belts and was working on Saisan Kata which was actually quite easy, ust going through the kata with them and fixing up some pull backs and posture.

Break time, the kids put on their kumite gear ready to get physical, Sami and i had the little white belts mainly just holding bags while they attacked, was very cute to watch. To finish off the session we got into some matches, Sam and I were judges with the flags, and Sensei Sandra was the head referee.  It was interesting to see them fight.  There were three matches, the last one was probably the most entertaining.  The girl was very quick and did not hold back with her attacks.  It was different to see in such a young girl.

After the session we had a bit of social time, setting up some table and chairs all the kids parents and teachers sat down for some nibbles and some time to talk and get to know each other. We all had to stand up and say some stuff about our self’s, they all tried talking in English and well.  Sandra, Sam and I spoke in Japanese.

It was a very nice atmosphere had a lot of fun talking and eating. I sat next to Inko (I think that was her name).  She kinda of spoke some English so she was helping me through it all, thank god. They also made some little gift bags up for us, and one of the student’s grandmother’s made us all an owl out of paper as you will see in my photos, hand made, that’s crazy it looks store bought.

Today after this mornings session, I’m gonna take the group up to the golf range now that I know where I’m actually going and hopefully go see the castle.  Apparently its open to public now.  We still cant go in the actual castle but get to walk around the grounds will be a good day hopefully.

WOW, What a weekend

This weekend, we still had a training session each day, Saturday morning session was just more of a stretching and talking about that things we are learning. After that we had some breakfast, Sam and Sandra then had to take me to a chemist to find something to help with my eye. As it was the worst it had ever been Friday night and Saturday morning, had a lot of pain and more swelling, pretty much hurt so much I had to hold my eye closed for hours at a time. We got some drops which I was hoping would work, otherwise we were told to get me to the hospital first thing Monday morning which I was very scared about. We got back by 11am where we met Helen who had just arrived at the Sohonbu.

Sam, Helen and I went out adventuring no real plan mainly have a look at the castle and at a few shops. We were about 15 minutes away practically stepping on the bus, when we realised that we had the key to lock up the Sohonbu, therefore Sandra and the kids couldn’t leave. We then had to walk all that way back to return the key.  Had a quick shirt change and headed out again.  We tried catching a train which went wrong as we ended up waiting for the wrong train and had missed ours.  We went across the street and waited for the bus to take us to the city centre. We eventually got there 2 hours later to when we first left to Sohonbu.

Walking over to the Kumamoto Castle, areas were taped off and looked like there was no entry, when we asked a staff member he then pointed to the map and pretty much the whole castle was closed off. Quite disappointed, I was really looking forward to seeing it and looking through it.  I then remembered that the Suzenji Gardens wasn’t far away and we decided we would get some food, then catch the tram there.

Public transport over here is very easy I you know what busses to take, trains and trams are easy, buses you need to know which one and where it takes you. Also, defiantly must have exact change as they don’t give you change back. There is a change machine on the trams trains, and buses which is very handy.  You put in 100 yen 50 yen coins and it gives you 10 yen coins.  Most of the time ive been paying 150-170 yen per ride which isn’t much probably around $2.00 or so depending on how far you are going.

We got off the Tram at stop for the Suzenji Gardens, number 18 I think it was.  From there it’s about a five-minute walk and we were at the entrance.  There was a 500yen entry fee and they gave you a map and a fancy little ticket.

It was absolutely beautiful, so green and hilly, lovely shaped trees had a very instant relaxing, peaceful feel to it, I was instantly happy to be there. Sam, Helen and I were there for a few hours looking around taking photos and enjoying the scenery.  It was in the late afternoon by the time we got there so it was very quiet, not many other people around which was good, we could enjoy it more.  We left around 5:00pm as far as I can remember.  Did a bit of food shopping and headed home.

  
 

Where we had a shower, and got ready to go out for dinner. We decided on a Korean BBQ.  I’m not sure of the name, but was just 5-minute walk from the Sohonbu, practically at the end of the street. We sat at a kotatsu, a small table where we sat in seiza, and many other positions as it was actually very uncomfortable where I thought it would be fun and different, definitely going to choose a normal table next time. Haha, my bad.

That was just Saturday such a big day, we went on a little detour walk on the way back.  Sam and I sat down and watched a movie where we both kept nudging each other to stay awake.  Haha, bed time!

Finally a sleep in well kind of… I still woke up at 6am! Haha, nope go back to sleep!  I woke up properly at 8am.  Yeah that’s better, had a nice relaxing morning. Found out we had Kobodu training 2-4pm so wasn’t much time for too much adventuring. Was contemplating on staying home and watching movies until training. But when I’m in another country, I like to use all my energy and force myself out to enjoy it and see it as much as I can while I’m there.

Sam seemed as though he wasn’t going anywhere, Helen was just going to pop out for some groceries and Sandra and the Kids weren’t going out either. I was just about to sit down and stay as well as I was scared of going out in Japan by myself alone.  I decided against it, I’m an adult I can take care of myself. Got sun screen definitely need sun screen had and glasses, shoes and went out.

I was planning on adventuring the left side of the park as we always go to the right, was only like 5 minutes and it ended, well that’s boring, but I kept walking up to the road and onwards, didn’t look like there was much ahead but I just wanted to get out, kept walking then I noticed that the big net was quite close. The big net that I was told was a golf driving range, I’m not a big fan of golf but the big net with huge red poles just looked so interesting and I wanted to go since I first saw it upon arriving in Kumamoto. I just wanted to go there, just to be there, very random I know.

Any how I came to a T-intersection with the big net right up on the hill in the middle.  Damn, where do I go now.  I knew one path would take me there and the other wouldn’t I chose to go right, I thought that looked more promising.  Hahahah WRONG!!!!!!!!!! Had to walk all the way back about 10 minutes.  Got to the T- intersection.  I tried looking up kumamoto golf range, the big net didn’t come up. Well looks like google maps won’t be helping me get there, it’s all up to me.

As I kept going I got more and more scared I would get lost and wouldn’t make it back in time to get picked up for training, but I wanted to keep going.  I took the left path which I should of originally taken. Kept following and following the road was very narrow and had to keep stopping to let cars past, got very creepy all by myself, people giving me weird looks.  Surrounded by old houses, some looked clean and respectable others looked like a lot of trouble.  God I hope I don’t get taken, that wouldn’t be very nice. I came to an area where I felt as though I could touch the net it was so close, but the road went all zig zaggy up the hill I still didn’t know if it would actually take me there.  But I kept on following the path, got to some steps which looked like a cheat way instead of following the windy road.  One more lap got to the top and I saw a sign that said “Kumamoto Golf Range”.

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH I’m there I actually got so excited that a ran all the way to the entrance.  Mainly because I got myself there all by myself.   Usually I don’t really go out without a friend so this was quite an adventure for me, I actually felt proud of myself, silly I know.

Next problem how do I ask to hit some balls. Went up to the counter talking for about 10 minutes.  No one had a clue what I was trying to say, they sat me down at a table and served my ice coffee, I don’t like ice coffee.  But after that hike, just getting into Aircon!!!! And very much enjoyed it, was like water to a person who had been in the dessert for months.

A man came up who could speak some English, found out he actually lived in Brisbane for 5 years and just came home, so we chatted about that for a bit, I told him I just wanna shoot 50 balls for 600yen he sorted that out for me and they lent me some golf clubs for free I still think they done that cause they felt sorry for me. Also gave me the iced coffee for free, god I felt like a rich billionaire they were all so lovely and nice.

I finished my drink grabbed the clubs, went outside, they gave me a spot on the second floor, whoop whoop. I started hitting some balls only had a little bit of knowledge back from playing golf at school.

It was automated where the ball rolls out and the t pops up from the ground haha very very entertaining.  Every ball that came out I sat and watched it roll out and pop up.  It was all new to me. I hit some pretty good shots, I got a few to the 150m area most was at the 100m though still alright.  I do think that being on the top gave me more distance advantage.  Still it felt good getting those shots in.

As I was alone and wanted a photo, I went up and asked this elderly man that helped me get the balls from the machine earlier to take a photo of me.  I was waiting for him to sit down as I didn’t want to interrupt his practise.

All 50 balls were gone time to head back down, I sat there for a moment though.  This was another happy time where I felt completely relaxed and happy, nothing on my mind.

Time to head back to eat and rest before training.  It was only a 20 minute walk if you don’t get lost the first time hahha. Had some food and laid on my bed to shut my eyes for about half an hour then time to get ready for Kobudo. I mentioned in an earlier post so ill skip that part now.

Time for Steven’s Birthday dinner party at Miyazaki Sensei’s house. We got there and they were all very lovely.  We sat at an kotatsu again, more fiddling around with seating positions. We mainly just had a casual talk about life.  A little bit of karate, mainly our life styles, things we like to do, just normal conversation that you would have with friends.

This was the first proper Japanese home that we’ve been in so far. Take your shoes off at the front door make sure you don’t have stinky feet. They had quite a spread of food, pizza, veggies, sushi, chicken, fruit, wide variety of things I thought I was at a buffet. The food was amazing, also was different for me.

As I was sitting next to Miyazaki Sensai, I was on duty filling his drink.  I was constantly checking his cup to see if it was empty, it was customary to never fill your own drink, others had to do it for you. I was offered some beer, Ashashi I think it was I only had one cup then I went to coke haha, I’m not much of a beer person but I like trying different things.

We were lucky enough to see Miyazaki Sensai’s upstairs Dojo while we were there, got a group photo and saw all his grading certificates, too many to count, went back down and talked some more while we enjoyed some cake.

It hit around 10:30pm time to take us home, we pilled into the cars and they were kind enough to drive us all the way back to the Sohonbu.

As soon as my head hit the pillow I was out cold haha.  That’s just our first weekend here gosh, wonder what next weekend will be like.

Week 2

Yesterday we attended a Kobodu demonstration practise rehearsal session, kihon bo 1-15.  1-8 I already know, 9-15 however was very new to me. We started learning it last Thursday in our morning kobodu session, and yesterday we got to go through it again and mainly remember the sequence.  The sequence i found easy to remember, the technique on the other hand I found very complicated, much more advanced techniques then i’m used to, especially number 14. I think it is when both hands on the bo are holding the bo the same way, that felt bazaar, and un-natural. I very much enjoyed doing it though I found it fun and love learning new bo techniques and kata’s. My shushi no sho I think is coming along well, with technique, speed and understanding on the kata. I do find number 1 quit hard to grasp though, I never feel completely happy with how it feels, I feel as though i’m no where near where it should be.

We had our first morning training of the week this morning, which was quite similar to every other morning we’ve had with Soke Sensai, we done some partner work where we match each others steps.  We then bring our hands together and one person has a soft movement around the hand and tries to tag.  The other person tries to block and then quickly counter. I couldn’t quite get my hips to work with me for that activity.

We all have the night off tonight celebrating Stevens Birthday then a big day tomorrow with two morning sessions and an afternoon session. Otherwise for now its time to relax and celebrate.