On Saturday, Lawrence and I met up for lunch in Ikebukuro before heading over to Saitama together to train at the Shiramizu Dojo run by Arakawa Sensei, who is Takagi Sensei’s top student and runs his own dojo out in Saitama (although also teaches at the Budokan in Tokyo). This dojo is where Lawrence did the years karate internship (but that has finished and now he teaches English in Tokyo).
I keep failing to take photos when I see him, so I have swiped this one from his blog (I’m sure he will be happy since it includes Storm Troopers!) so you can see what he looks like:
Obviously I didn’t want to miss a chance to train, especially since I had met Arakawa Sensei before and thought he was a dude. Class was really good – more informal than Takagi Sensei’s, and it also had lots of kids which made the mood more relaxed. Although tough, the routines were really enjoyable, which was lucky as it made me forget about the pain and trauma of being unfit and rubbish at karate! We had to do push-ups – my first in several months – and not just normal ones – 5 normal, then 4 on 4 fingers and 3 on three fingers. It is Monday and I am still aching all over.
I have to say, apart from the training, part of the reason I was keen to go was to meet some real live English people. Having only see one since arriving here, and she wasn’t exactly talkative, I was feeling a bit deprived of our weird sense of humour. It was therefore really cool to meet Carl, who is the official Shiramizu Karate Intern for this year, and Amy, his fiance, who works full-time and also trains whenever she can. Here is a picture of them (and Lawrence) at a recent competition:
Even though they were northern ;) it is clear that us Brits have a unique (and slightly odd) sense of humour. We almost finished eachothers sentences on a couple of occasions, and when Amy said the word “minging” I almost wet myself. Agneta, who has a pHD from UCL, had said how good at conversation the British are, and how they can make a two hour discussion out of the most weird or mundane topics, and I think she’s right. I mentioned this to Amy and it promptly sparked a discussion about what was inside a ping-pong ball…
So all in all it was a cool trip – getting out of Tokyo, training, meeting some new people and also… I nearly forgot to say… I (ok, Lawrence) asked Arakawa Sensei where some other good Wado dojo’s are so I can ask Interac to place me near one. His answer was Kumamoto in Kyushu, and Nagoya. Both would be cool, but I am erring towards Kumamoto since Kyushu sounds good – warm, chilled, lots of countryside to explore, plus Kumamoto is about 8km from the sea, which is a feasible commuting distance (I am totally dreaming of living in a traditional style building overlooking the sea – nothing like getting ahead of yourself a bit!).