So, now that it’s all over, I shall endeavour to condense into one post the busiest week I’ve had since, well, possibly since I arrived in Japan. It started as normal, with training on Monday and Tuesday, and then a special class on Wednesday, which I normally take as a day off. The class was at another dojo somewhere in Nagoya, and we were joined by Nukina Sensei (who runs our partner dojo in Bucharest – he married a Romanian and moved out there) and four Romanians – Octavian, Soreen, a guy whose name I have annoyingly forgotten and Luca. Luca is ten, and had come to Japan without his parents, who were replaced for two weeks by his dojo family. Pretty cool. On Wednesday I thought he was kind of shy, but as the week went on I realised he’s a smart and cocky little bugger :) His English is good (it far exceeds any of the children I’ve taught in Japan!) and he was happy hanging around with us and feeding money into the vending machines to get can after can of fizzy drink. After the Wednesday training session we went to a “stamina buffet” which basically consisted of meat and veggies you can grill at your table, but also salad, sushi and a few other bits. Good fun.
The next two days I was up early to translate for the training sessions for the WWC (Wado World Cup). These were held in the sports hall of a nearby high school. Each country had a two hour slot booked in which they could turn up and train. As it turned out, only a handful of countires turned up, which gave me time to do my own training. On Friday, Sensei asked Tatsuo, my 16 year old shodan test partner, to come along and train with me on the stuff I’d be tested on. I feel quite bad for Tatsuo as Sensei has got him training with me lots, and not on his own stuff. On Friday he wanted to go shooping with his sister but Sensei wouldn’t let him go home! :( I’m going to buy him a thank you present. I saw some truly awesome katana umbrellas today, but they only had girly patterns left. Hopefully I’ll see them again somewhere else.
On Friday after the training session, we went out for dinner with Sandra, her boyfriend Wil and her brother Andre. Sandra and Andre are Romanian and train with Nukina Sensei, or at least Sandra did till she moved to London to study graphic design at Camberwell. Obviously her English is perfect, but she and Andre also speak fluent Japanese, as a result of attending a Japanese school in Romania from the age of six. Bonkers! Apparently her mum was brought up here and wanted her children to speak the language too. Wil is actually Dutch, and from the Ishikawa Dojo near Rotterdam. Weirdly I had befriended a good friend of his, AJ, via YouTube, so that was a cool little coincidence.
Saturday and Sunday was the competition. I met up with quite a few people I knew – Carl and Amy who were the interns at Shiramizu Dojo in 2008, and Louise who was one of the interns in 2009. I had also been communicating with this years intern, Pete, via his blog, and it was good to meet up with him and go out for some drinks with him, Carl and Amy on Saturday night.
There were a couple of people from the dojo competing – Juri-chan, the 14 year old Karate Queen, was fighting for Japan in the “Cadets Kumite” section, and Hide was fighting for El Salvador (long story!) for the Mens Kumite -67kg. Kodai, 12, was also doing a kata demonstration in the arena during the lunch break.
This is Amy (in red), in one of her earlier fights. She came third overall :)
I didn’t get any photos of Juri-chan’s fight, but she lost in the final to another Japanese girl. Still, 2nd is still pretty awesome. It’s actually the Japanese Wado Nationals this coming weekend, which is a much bigger deal, given the quality of the Japanese competitors, so I think she will be focussing on that now.
The competition itself was excellent – incredibly well-organised and with a competitive but friendly atmosphere. Unsurprisingly, the Japanese were by far the best performing team, and by the finals the few gaijin that had managed to get through were cheered by all the foreign teams, who chanted their name and urged them on. Pretty cool, especially when the Japanese also started chanting :) The award for Best Supporting Act definitely goes to the Spanish supporters, who came adorned with red and yellow clothing and face paint! They moved around the arena to get to the front whenever one of their countrywo/men were up, cheering and shouting loudly.
Sunday evening, after the competition, was a Sayonara party for the competitors. It was held at a swanky hotel and a really good buffet and loads of drinks were laid on for everyone. The guys in the Japanese team got absolutely hammered in about half an hour, after necking back beers and roping in lads from other teams to do the same. Each country had to take to the stage to give a brief introduction and then say “cheers” in their language, but the Spanish speech ended up in football chants and doing the macarena, and the Japanese, who were last, mainly involved a bunch of red-faced guys looking very happy! :D Sadly, though, I had my grading the next day so after scarfing down some free food and chatting to a few people I headed home for an early night. Although it wasn’t that early as I ended up lying awake and tossing and turning thinking about the next day. Anyhow, below are a few pictures from the evening:
On the left is my Sensei, aka Sensei aka Matsuzaki Sensei. On the right in Sakagami Sensei, who runs the British Wado association.
This is team Romania! From left to right: Octavian, Andre, Luca, Sandra and Soreen. Only Sandra actually competed; Octavian took, and passed, nidan (2nd dan) and the referees course, Soreen took, but failed sandan (3rd dan) and everyone else just came to watch and hang out. It was decided that Luca, chatterbox extraordinaire, should make the goodbye speech.
This is Amelia Harvey from England who was beaten in the Cadets Kumite by Juri. She ended up coming third though, which was awesome. Tough to watch a fight with your dojo buddy and countrywoman against eachother!
The grading you already know a bit about, and there’s not that much more to say, really, although I will upload some videos if I manage to get copies from the Romanian guys. Early start for a seminar, then the grading started at about 2pm. Kihon, kata, yakusoku kumite, jiyu (free) kumite, then waiting for the results. After that it was the Ikueikan summer beer garden/meat BBQ party, so on with the photos!
Love this picture, although would love it more if it was framed slightly better!
This is Abe-san, fellow white belt and truly awesome guy. He is aiming to go to Cambodia in a few years time to do voluntary work, and also wants to teach karate there. His English is pretty good, so we always have a good natter during training :)
Kato-san, another fellow white belt, and also incredibly generous – he paid for everyone’s meal and drinks on Monday night (at least 30 of us!) and then took a few of us out to karaoke afterwards.
Just to finish the story, after the meat and beer fest we went out for karaoke, I got home at 3am, then had to get up at 9am to pack and leave. That was a horrible experience I don’t want to repeat, but luckily now the memory is fading!
Anyhow, since I’m travelling I have other things to blog, so will stop writing now, and apologise, especially if you have no interest in karate, for the length of this post ;)