Thursday, October 23, 2008

All-Japan Jodo Champs, 2008

There were about 500 participants crammed into a fairly small high-school gym, with 4 courts operating at the same time.
Bit of circus atmosphere at times! That's Arai Sensei judging there...

Seki Nobuhide (left) is not only a great jodoka, but also has a funny way of winning the 6th-dan level at iaido tournaments, too.
He's younger than me, as well. Grrrr.

Namitome Sensei and Kaminoda Sensei chatted amicably the whole day, but occasionally stopped when somebody caught their eye.
They were scheduled to demonstrate, but didn't in the end; maybe Namitome Sensei's knee isn't completely healed yet.

Morii Sensei (7th-dan) attacks Masui Sensei in this shot. Morii Sensei is one of the guys who
really puts me through my paces at the Nikkei Dojo practices.

Hi. My knee is really bad these days, so I haven't been practicing much. Hence the lack of news. But I did go to the All-Japan Jodo Championships on Sunday. They were held in Tokyo, so I agreed to go and cover them for Kendo World magazine. (Not a subscriber yet? What are you waiting for?)

There were almost 500 participants, along with all the high-ranking Jodo teachers in Japan, all gathered in one place. It was quite awesome to think about, really.

Details of the event, as well as more photos, will show up in Kendo World, so I won't say too much about it here. But, since this is my Blog and I don't have to be TOO political (of course I do try to be, shall we say, "tactful"), I noticed a few things.

The main thing is that Jodo is "small" enough that this event was an open tournament; anybody could join. And so it didn't come down to one Prefectural Team competing agains another Prefectural Team, and (I think) as a consequence, I felt that basically the best people won. This seems to be in contrast to iaido where (at least recently) there has been a strong correlation between award winners and what Prefecture is hosting the tournament this year.

Another interesting thing is that all the high-ranking sensei seemed to be getting along just fine; there was no evidence anywhere of any tension between Fukuoka and Tokyo or anything else that people sometimes go on about.

Anyway, regarding the iaido thing, I'm going to Sendai tomorrow to cover the All-Japan Iaido Tournament. It should be interesting and will definitely put my little "theory" to the test. Miyagi is not a strong iaido prefecture, as far as I know, but I'm no expert. I guess a positive result will be strong evidence that my theory is correct, although a negative result doesn't prove it's wrong, either ... it's just a "tendency" I think, not a hard-and-fast rule.

The last thing is that, after seeing the other competitors (who were very, very impressive) I can confidently say, without any doubt, that I am the very best 36-year-old, Canadian, balding jodoka named Jeff in Japan. Oh yeah!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Things I Love About Jodo Practice

  • when I'm doing Kasumi no kamae, the way I can feel the heat radiating off of my steaming forehead
  • the way Furukawa Sensei (at age 75 or something) is the only person that I can't basically fling across the dojo at will with a strong Tai-atari
  • that feeling of excitement and fear I get when he looks like he's going to practice with me
  • how when I practice with him, I feel a weird combination of terror ("Don't hurt me!") and total calmness and trust ("I know you're not going to hurt me ... but you could ... but you won't... whoops, that was close ...")
  • that look he gets on his face when he knows he killed me, and I know he killed me
  • how he puts me through my paces while keeping an eye on the rest of the class; he doesn't even need to devote his full attention to me
  • the almost musical "Spak!" sound of a good hikiotoshi-uchi
  • how Mr. Watano and Mr. Kadomatsu, two of the nicest, meekest guys you'd ever care to meet, turn into demons of screaming woody vengeance when they practice together
  • the fact that, in this day and age of high-technology, oak and rawhide are still the best things to make practice weapons out of
  • "Ieeeiiii!" and "Ooohhhh!"
  • how, after practice, all the problems in my life seem less important. I'm up to my eyeballs in debt, but who cares? I don't have a girlfriend ... so what? It'll work itself out somehow.

How about you?