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Saturday morning, asaren is not until 9:30 so at least I can sleep in, well that is until my son wakes me at 6:00.............
I eventually climb out of bed around 7:15 and muster a quick shower before getting ready to head off to the Seibukan.
Keiko starts with the usual warm up and is then followed by Obata Sensei taking some ken suburi, Obata Sensei is also a fourth or fifth dan in Jodo, his ken style is slightly differnt to the Iwama ken that I have had more experience with, but not that different .
We do that for about 15 mins before Nakao Sensei takes over the class, and does yet another kokyu class. I don`t know whether he`s been doing this all for me, I`ve not seen him run such closely similar classes so many times together before, but I`m not complaining.
After keiko Nakao Sensei asks me if I want to come to his house for lunch, I accept gratefully. He sends me down first where I find his wife Akiko san preparing lunch in their restaurant. I`m treated to a nice mix of Japanese food and Kobe beef, oishiiiiiiiiiiiii!
After lunch we chat for a while about various things Aikido, before I reluctantly have to head home to pack, we`re leaving early tomorrow morning ...............
I get back to find my wife loading up in the local supermarket, all the small snacks, and various ingredients that we can`t get at home, and those that we can get at exhorbitant prices
It`s all laid out in the other room right now, I have to go pack, but I have no id
Friday morning, again llittle sleep as I wake each hour, I make it out of bed at 5:30 and down to the Seibukan for asaren. Yet another clas of kokyu waza, Sensei is spoiling me. I`ve been gradually building up the ukemi over the past week, maybe being over careful for the "hernia" but am now at a point where I`m not shirking anything and am practicing as if I never had a problem in the first place. I can`t quite believe the transformation from the week before.
After keiko I go down to a local coffee bar with Brad Darr (also on Aikiweb), who`s lucky enough to be training with Nakao Sensei on a weekly/ daily basis, and Ross, another Englishman recently joined the Seibukan, and working at Nova alongside Brad. We have a couple of tea`s and a good chat about stuff before I have to head home, had promised to go over to Kyoto with my wife. Actually, I had wanted to go before I came to Japan, outside of keiko it was the only thing I had planned.
From Gakuentoshi to Kyoto is quite a trip so we use JR which is a bit quicker albeit more expensive. We head straight to Katskura, one of the best tonkatsu resaurants I`ve ever been to, we have a fantastic lunch, where I had an ebi fry (prawn) that was two times longer and fatter than my index finger. After lunch we whiz around the Daimaru department store looknig for last minute souvenirs before catching a taxi to Heian Jingu.
I`d been to the outside of Heian Jingu a number of times over the years but had never been into the garde
Thursday is a slow day, my pace day. No Keiko, the wife has gone out shopping with her mum, my sister in law has taken the kids to the zoo, just me and my father in law left at home. I finish my second book of the hols before going out to do some last minute shopping.
OK, I`m only human, I missed keiko today. I just plain slept through not waking until 8. I woke up ruing the missed chance of practice with Sensei, but the way my body wasn`t moving, maybe it wasn`t such a bad thing, my muscles were seized I couldn`t move......
Hot bath,$B!!(Bhot bath......... Let`s go to the onsen my wife says, Taisanji is only 15 mins away by bus and only costs about 300 yen per session. My father inlaw had taken all the kids to the Pokemon centre, so the rest of us plummed for the onsen, woohoo, I`m fully converted .
The bus leaves from the local bus stop and takes less than 10 mins to arrive at Taisanji. We leave the bus and go in, unfortunately I`m the only male, so wife, mum and sister inlaw all go off one way leaving me to fend for myself . I enter the changing rooms to find it heaving with Ojisan (grandads), they all look at me sideways, being the only gaijin there. Still, I`m used to this now so in I plunge..............good god..........it`s bloody hot, hotter than the onsen up at Shosha san we went to last week, seering hot in fact. It was a matter of seconds before my skin was burning red, I looked like I`d spent the day in the sun without any protection, I only had another 20 mins or so to waste. Anyways, once youre submerged, as long as you don`t move it actually becomes quite pleasant, I could feel the aches ebbing away . 20 Mins later I take a very cold shower before changing and going out to reception to wait for everyone
The local prefecture government opened the Kenritsu Budokan a few years back, it`s quite a spectacular place. There are four 300 tatami dojo`s next to each other, where the walls can slide back joining them together. The local government decided they wanted to promote Japanese Budo and sponsored a number of arts, Aikido being one of them. Nakao Sensei was asked to teach a 10:00 AM slot on Tuesday mornings for housewives.
I accompanied him down on the train from Kobe, a good one and a half hour trek. We had a god old chin wag about Aikido things and such, as we got to the dojo he said "today you will be my joshu" (joshu = helper). The class was an hour and a half long and catered for all of 3 students.........plus me and Sensei. Again he taught kokyu waza, by which I mean, he has been doing all class from ryote dori in suwari, hanmi handachi, hanmihandachi with two ukes, and tachi. All techniques start with kokyu ho before he evaporates into nothing and throws you with immense power, or you end up falling over yourself........I love it.
Class finishes and Izutsu san (who had recently visited me in England) wanted to take some photo`s. We then made our way back to the train for the hour and a half ride back to Kobe.
I hadn`t trained for almost a month because of a suspect hernia, but now I`ve just down nearly 10 hours of classes in a little over 3 days. I need a good long soak in a hot bath .
I head back into central Kobe to go and pick up the new embroidered kei
Monday morning 5:30 AM, time to get up for asaren. I`m always in two minds here, obviously I want to train, and spend as much time under Nakao Sensei`s guidance as possible, but, I get up at 5:30 every day for work back in the UK, I`m here on my hols and need a rest! Especially since I don`t have an alarm clock with me, so I`ve been waking up every hour or so to see if it`s time to get up . Anyways, I`m awake and obviously not going to miss keiko so off I traipse .
Another class around kokyu waza, couldn`t be better. When it comes to Kokyu waza Nakao Sensei just has it, it`s like trying to grab air sometimes while you just end up falling all over the place, I love it, even though my muscles are screaming..........
Sunday morning I was back at the Seibukan for Nakao Sensei`s morning class. I was really pleased to find him doing another class on kokyu waza, similar to the last one but with a few waza changes. The class was pretty full and there wasn`t much space to take ukemi, this suited me as I was still feeling a little tender around the "hernia" and my body just ached like hell from the previous two days.
An hour and a half later I was still standing, just , time for the next class (always two classes on Sunday morning), this one to be taken by Fujii Sensei. Fujii Sensei is also an Aikikai 6th Dan and runs a dojo at Nagoya and comes to the Seibukan once a month. I`ve met him a number of times over the last 10 years I`ve been coming to Japan, his Aikido is nice and "strong" . He always has time to come and give a few tips during class but the main benefit for me was that I could actually practice with both Nakao Sensei and Uchi Koshi Sensei.....a number of times . I had a small epiphany during this class, for years I`d been watching Nakao Sensei and Uchi Koshi Sensei do iriminage, and there was something in their movement very different to mine, that I hadn`t been able to put my toe on. Today after practicing iriminage with Nakao Sensei I felt like I grasped it. After we switched uke`s Fujii Sensei came over to me and gave me a couple more points on the same thing, result, I`m now gonna spend the next however long trying to change my foot movement from the way I`ve been
The rei in was led by Peter Goldsbury being the senior grade present, this was then followed by Peter Rehse taking a Shodokan warm up. At first simple to follow, general stretching not unlike we do back home, although maybe a little quicker than I`m used too. We then lined up with senior Shodokan chaps in front to lead us, and Peter proceeded to run through a kata type exercise that consisted of a specific set of moves. This was done at a very quick pace, apparently they do this at the beginning of every keiko, I just didn`t know where to step next. Each time I thought I`d sussed the pattern, they stepped into a different direction, by the time we finished I was left looking rather dazed and confused.
Peter very quickly handed over to Mike Steumpel to take the Yoshinkan portion of the class. He started with some basic foot movements to extend from the Shodokan movements, explaining how they perform these in the Yoshinkan and why. He then proceeded to assimilate the movements into a technique endng up with katate dori Shihonage. It was a good class, something that I could cope with quite easily and I enjoyed practicing with Jesse.
Next up the class was handed over to Peter Goldsbury who taught from kata dori. He started with ikkyo, moving onto nikkyo, which Ted Taylor became very familiar with as his uke . He moved on to an interesting variation of shihonage from kata dori shomen uchi, doing the shihonage in a reverse fashion on the arm doing the shomen uchi which res
Saturday morning, I wake in bed to find my body unable to move. Yesterdays keiko was all kokyu waza, mainly stretching but every bone and muscle in my body ached beyond belief, and here I was trying to head down to Himeji for the big Aikiweb meet. I manage to drag myself from bed and get ready.
I head of for Nishi Akashi, I`d been told to change here for a Shin Kaisoku (Super Rapid Express), so I get off the Kaisoku (Rapid Express) that I was on and change platforms..........only to find that there are no Shin Kaisoku at that time day, nor are there any more Kaisoku........ I have to wait for 20 minutes for the next local train which will stop at every station to Himeji, so much for getting there early..........
Fortunately at Himeji I find a taxi driver who actually knows his way to the budokan unlike my last visit 2 years before where the driver took me around various sights before stopping at a coffee shop to ask directions.......yes, with this one exception Himeji taxi drivers are no better than Tokyo taxi drivers........
I half run half limp into the budokan trying to find the dojo, I had been looking forward to this but the body was in so much pain I just wasn`t up for it. It`s five to 9, I spy Peter, "Bryan! How long you gonna be? we`re starting, now!" he says, "2 mins" I respond. I dash over to the changing rooms and pull my keiko gi on. Not having had time to meet an greet I decided to leave my hakama in my bag and run out to the dojo...
Friday morning 5:30 AM I`m crawling out of bed. I hadn`t had much sleep as I had no alarm clock and I needed to rise early (any one `d think I needed a holiday ), so I`d dozed most of the night waking at regular intervals to check the clock, and not even a result of jet lag.........
I leave the house just after 6:00 making my way to the subway. I jump on the train and start reading my book, something I haven`t managed to do for some time, but I`d bought this book the day before in Tokyo and hadn`t been able to put it down since, something to do with Da Vinci......Oh jeez, Okurayama, I was so engrossed I nearly missed my stop, I jump up and just make it through the doors.
I`m sitting on the top step at the Seibukan, I can tell by the sound that Nakao Sensei is climbing the stairs, he rounds the corner and seeing me smiles "Ohayo", he hands me the keys to the dojo and goes back down to change. The Seibukan is a three story building, a family friend lives on the ground floor, the second floor is a small "hotel" for distinguished guests and also used as a changing area for "erai sensei". The third floor is a 60 tatami dojo fully wood cladded inside.
Nakao Sensei`s wife Akiko san walks in, she spots me and smile "daijobu?" - are you Ok? she asks. I nod smiling back. Keiko begins, my first for nearly 4 weeks, I`m as happy a pig in the proverbial. Nakao sensei teaches the whole class on kokyu ryoku, some very interesting excercises that I must take back home. I survive t