We were up early for morning training with Soke Sensei again this morning. I am finding that seiza is easier every day and this morning went by quite quickly. Todd Sensei joined us for training this morning too. We started with the usual morning kihons. Todd Sensei certainly up’s the ante when it comes to speed training. I felt like a lost little kid trailing behind the big kids beside me this morning! I was trying to remember some of the pointers that Todd Sensei gave me on Wednesday in the beginning but then I just was trying desperately to keep up- All good form went out the window! Soke was there on the side encouraging me the whole time.. faster, faster, go, go, go! I am reminded that I have a long way to go when it comes to speed training. After Kihons we did some Kata practice. A good oportunity to cement some of the things I have been learning this week. After Kata practice we did a few more laps of kicking and rinten to finish off.
After Souji and a chat with Todd Sensei we had some showers and breakfast and headed in to Kumamoto Castle. We planned to go there earlier in the week but didn’t make it so today that was our plan. I had an enjoyable couple of hours wandering around reading the history of the area.. Oh and doing more shopping of course! Sandra had gone her own way for a bit.. a nostalgia trip for her back to her early days of competing and training in Japan. We met up again and had some lunch then Sandra came back to the dojo while I caught a tram over to the Suizenji Gardens.
On the tram I met another lovely local lady who spoke very good english. It turned out she had lived in New York for 6 years with her husbands work. She had kids the same ages as mine (but both girls) and we chatter about a few things, and she gave me some advice on appropriate gifts!
The gardens were beautiful, I didn’t do much, just a quick wander around the paths and then I sat and enjoyed the view and the stillness by the water for awhile before heading back to the dojo for evening classes.
The kids class was just a small one again tonight, I spent part of the time working with a young green belt on Kihon Kata Ichi, Ni, and San. It’s amazing how easy it is to communicate in the dojo even with my terrible Japanese.
If I felt like a beginner out of my depth this in this mornings class, tonight was no better, just add an extra Sandan and another Shihan to the mix! There are a few theme’s starting to emerge in my training and the feedback I am getting though. What seem like small little technical or sequence corrections are all starting to come together now in a more coherent form and I am seeing that underlying those technical things are a few key basics I need to work on.
One of the aspects of this trip I haven’t really touched on all that much in my blogs is the incredible atmosphere here and the welcome that we have had. Staying here at the sohonbu it feels like Soke Sensei and his family have welcomed us into their family home. We try to show our gratitude by bringing gifts, being respectful and leaving the place clean and tidy at all times but I can’t help but feel sometimes that it is never enough. Whether it is Soke Sensei waiting to greet us the day we arrived, Minowa Sensei sharing her dance class with us and taking us out for the day, or the blankets that turn up in our room one day because the weather is cooling down, everyone is just amazing. Tonight after the kids class Naoyuki Sensei was asking about my elbow. Most of you are probably aware I have been carrying an injury for quite a few months now, lots of rest and physio in the last few weeks before I came has made quite a difference and it has held up quite well to the training but today it has been a bit achy and sore again. I mentioned this and he prescribed more onsen! We had a laugh but then, later, after the adult class Naoyuki’s wife Yuko came with some heat patches for me to try. It is this kind of care and thoughfulness that makes me feel I am really a part of something very special in the Chito-Ryu family. If there is anything I would like to pass on to the people it home it is this sense that Chito-Ryu really is more than just another style of Karate or a form of exercise. It is a community, a family that spreads worldwide, and the relationships you will build in and out of the dojo have the potential to be lifelong and life changing. Once you embrace the dojo community your karate and all other area’s of your life will grow enormously.