18 Jul 2009

Fukyōdai - Gasshuku

There's probably soo much I can write about this! I don't even know where to start. All the drunken debauchery and banter provided by us in the Mokkeiso at Fukyodai will not be easily forgotten. Spearheaded by Joe, my sempai, the representation of UCL was in good hands ... however, what happens there (onsen, sumo wrestling, infestation of alien-sized insects, etc.) stays there! All you'll get is a bit of kendo.

Living in the Mokkeiso, more or less a halls of residence for the kendokas of the university, was truly an amazing experience. The yakinikku + sushi welcome party, inclusive of free-flowing amber liquid, was enough to win me over. As with most cases, alcohol became the international language, and it didn't take long for everyone to warm up to us despite the initial language barrier. To be fair, their English was way better than my Japanese. So there we go.
The duration of my stay proved to be one of the most demanding kendo training I've ever experienced, minus a couple of camps in Thailand. The Kyushu summer sun worked wonderfully well in helping the dojo feel like an oven. It was hot and humid. At least the dojo floor was magnificent.

The first thing anyone will ever tell you about the dojo at Fukuoka Univerisity of Education was the warm-up ... God, that was the shocking to say the least. Most of them won't tell you much about it though, as the effect might be dampened. You'll just have to experience it, but I assure you there's nothing like it. After that, it is loads of kirikaeshi, uchikomi, some free waza (for kihon), then finally ji-keiko.
The time of practise varies depending on the day of the week, the most dreaded one was probably the Asa-keiko, having to get up as early as 5am. The rice and miso in the morning sure is a life saver though.
Unfortunately I didn't have a chance to get much advice from M. Sumi sensei (8dan), except for his take on kakarikeiko. He'd rather us think of it as active kakarikeiko.
No matter, I still got loads of advice from good ol' Honda sensei. Tips on improving my Men cut, small and big, various ways to seme and keeping centre ... and as always he liked my kamae! So that's the positives, kendo wise, to takeaway from this Gasshuku. Of course, the memories and friends I've left there will've ensured that I'll head back there as soon as the next opportunity arises!


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