The rain woke me at 07:00, OK, so that’s a bit of a lie. I was dozing from about 04:00 and sound of the rain on a metal roof near the apartment lead me to believe that we were being invaded by a possy of badly trained ninjas. This wasn’t normal rain, no this was professional rain of the sort often accompanied by weather warnings in the UK. Brilliant, my first day in the Karate Kaiken and my plans to run to the venue each day were now in doubt. It was showing 19C so how cold/bad could it be?
I am really trying to push myself out of my comfort zone for this trip (and in general) so I pack my bag in as waterproof a manner as I can and take a huge breath before stepping from under the apartment canopy. Now I have been to the Karate Kaiken before, but I’ve never had to find my own way there, sure what could go wrong?
Google maps, was of course my guide and inbetween stopping to check the map whilst trying to keep my phone dry, avoid huge puddles and swathes of moving water, I manage to find the huge hill that led to the venue. I was well and truly wet. Everything was wet.
The first thing that hits you when you arrive at the Kaiken is the floor, it’s amazing, red pine we were told, but honestly I’ve not felt anything as smooth in my life! It smells beautiful also!!
Karate people are often preoccupied with floors and so it did make me chuckle to see everyone checking out this magnificent floor!
Higaonna Sensei opened the training by thanking everyone who sent him messages when he was ill a few years ago. We are then into training with great intensity! Shuri ashi, tai-sabaki, then onto kicking exercises, more kicking exercises whilst sitting on the floor – the sort of exercises that make my hips and leg muscles scream in anger. There was little let up in the pace!
We started to train kata when Uehara Sensei spotted two gentleman standing at the back of the dojo. It turns out that they were students of Higaonna Sensei in Yoyogi dojo in Tokyo. We had a brief break whilst and shared some stories and I have to say when Higaonna Sensei smiles… his whole body smiles!
Then we were back to kata kata kata!
The focus was now on the smaller points of training, the ones that can slip easily without concentration! We started with Gekisai-dai ichi, repetition followed repetition and then partner review on each others kata. I find this really intimidating, OK so I hate this sort of training, but I recognise how important it is, and in any cases I had a great partner.
Post training and I was off to the obligatory trip to Shureido, then snack, snooze, panic awakening to an alarm, confusion as to the time, day, location and the reality that I have 20 minutes to get up the hill to Higaonna Senseis’ dojo for evening training.
Nakamura Sensei took the class this evening and the tail end of jet lag made the training more taxing than it should have been, that’s my excuse anyway!
We did loads of ippon kumite drills, drills that build over time and by the end I was well and truly brain dead! But there was more to come, Geksai dai ichi with no foot movement…try it… it’s harder than it sounds!!! Shouldn’t be… but it is!
After a lovely dinner and stories from some of the Senseis that shall never be repeated!!! I promise!!!
It was back home and time to lay my very tired bones down… as I fell asleep I made a promise that I will try even harder tomorrow!