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Lucky I couldn`t sleep huh! Awake from 2:00AM, so no chance of missing the meeting with Sugiura Sensei at 09:30.
Small breakfast at the hotel before leaving, thin slices of overcooked cold streaky bacon, lukewarm mini wiener sausages, congealed scrambled eggs and cold potatoes, all for a paltry 2000 Yen (that`s 10 Quid or 20 dollars to you and me), what`s that all about then? Oh, I see, $B!H(BViking buffet$B!I(B I can go back and have as much of this (umm, lost for words) as I want, as many times as I want (yummeeeeee), oh to be in Japan!
Sunday, day of the 5th annual Egota Embutaikai, one of the dojo`s in my old association. Meeting Sugiura Sensei at a local station to go watch, along with my colleague who has decided to come with us. Packed up my keiko gi (as will be going on to old dojo after to practice), along with small gifts for Sugiura Sensei, Nojima Sensei (my Sensei) and a very expensive bottle of Scottish Malt for Koyama Sensei (Kaicho, head of my old association).
$B!H(BEehhhhhhhh! BRYAN!!!!!!!$B!I(B echo surprised shouts as my old dojo mates pile onto the platform at Nakano Sakaue. It`s been over two years since I`d been in Tokyo, hand shakes and hugs all round, before we all pile onto the train and head for Egota.
The wind was howling as we left the station, the tail end of Typhoon 17 gusting through Tokyo. Fortunately, it veered off back into the Pacific before any really serious weather hit us. The only damage done to my colleagues hair.......
$B!H(BOh Bryan, you bought Keiko gi, good, you`re doing the Embu!$B!I(B whispers Sugiura Sensei nonchalantly as we stroll along the street. $B!H(BEh, what?$B!I(B I stammer. $B!H(BYanagisawa kun has to work, you will take his place$B!I(B, he says.........$B!I(BOkaaaaaaaaaay$B!I(B.
We reach the dojo. $B!H(BKaicho!$B!I(B announces Sugiura Sensei and marches me straight off for aisatsu (formal greetings) with Koyama Sensei. He still remembers me, Koyama Sensei is approaching 80 years old, but is still going strong, still practices 2 or 3 times a week, takes ukemi for anyone, but is also busy as Director of both the Tokyo Aikido Renmei and the All Japan Aikido Renmei.
I ask Sugiura Sensei what we are doing in the embu, $B!H(Btsuki and tanto$B!I(B he says, $B!H(Bwe`ll work it out!$B!I(B.
Nojima Sensei walks in $B!H(BBryan, genki? Embu yaru? Tanto desu$B!I(B. I nod meekly. $B!H(BYou will be uke for Sugiura Sensei!$B!I(B, I pale.........
I like Sugiura Sensei a lot, good character and very strong powerful technique, but me attack him with tanto? You gotta be kidding, I`m here on business.....and carrying an 8 month leg injury that hampers my ability to ukemi........not to mention the fact that I`ve only had about 7 hours sleep in the last 4 days.........HELP!! We pair up at the back to go through the plan, LUCKY ME!! I have to attack him with tsuki (no tanto), slowly three times. He will do three predetermined moves. Then I have to attack him continuously for 2 minutes while he tosses me around, errr, I mean does jiyu waza. BUT........... we immediately follow this with him attacking me with tsuki (WITH TANTO) two times, I have to do two predetermined moves. Then he has to attack me for 2 minutes continuously with the tanto whilst I do jiyu waza. Hahahahahahaaaaaa............
We finished with Nojima Sensei who demonstrated his Yoshinkan roots on two ukes . It all went down well with my colleague who thought the Honcho dojo embu was the best of the lot .
Most of the guys from the embu went off to a drinking party, but given the previous day, I thought better of it, besides, I had 2 hours of keiko to do followed by dinner with Sugiura Sensei.
Keiko was good, more people surprised at my unannounced arrival, lots of old friends wanting to throw me around. The leg held up surprisingly well......Just needed a bit of damage limitation at dinner, lilmited myself to 3 Dai Joki .
The final hurdle for the day was sleep, boy did I need some, back to the hotel, lights out around midnight and out like a light...............................................until 2 AM.