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Week 1: Training at the Sohonbu. Kumamoto, JAPAN


Finally, I find myself sitting down to connect with family, friends and students. Apologise to everyone for not connecting sooner. I hope everyone has been well.

Week one has flown by, yet each day has been full and overflowing of inspiration, great company and study. I wouldn’t say that I have been crazy busy and leading a hectic lifestyle, but I’ve certainly been embracing the simple things in life more than usual.

The beginning of this trip was shaded by some technology issues, yet by Wednesday evening my wi-fi arrived and we were good to go. I was told that my pocket wi-fi would arrive between 6:00-8:00pm at the Sohonbu, so I sat downstairs in the tatami room and you’d never guess what time it arrived. 7:55pm!!! Five minutes before class. Catching up with Martin, Sami and Steven would have to wait a couple more hours.

This week consisted of eight training sessions. My first training session of the week would have been a good laugh for anyone who was watching. I still laugh at myself now just thinking about it. Morning training with Soke Sensei. What else needs to be said. It was a great session but I think that it may have been useful to ‘breathe’. The two left feet syndrome was definitely a game changer for me. Todd Sensei ripped through his kihons in his usual relaxed style. But, I loved it!!! It’s so great to be back at the Sohonbu and training with Soke Sensei.

Kobudo with Higuchi Sensei was probably just as entertaining for anyone watching on the sidelines. Some refinements to Sakugawa no kon and then the introduction to some other bo basics. Fortunately, Sensei Martin and Sensei Adam had tried to share some of these with me after their trips to the Sohonbu last year. With just a few bruises later, I think I’m starting to get an idea of what not to do.

Training has been a real blast so far. I love being a student and learning new things and refining my basics both in the dojo and in life. Soke Sensei plants some great seeds of thought of simple ideas which make perfect sense but often take years to evolve and mature within us. I am no different. With peace, perseverance and continual practice I believe that I will progress in the perfect time and in the perfect way for me.

In the mean time, it is up to me to choose what I do with the information that I receive. Do I leave it on the shelf in my training journal or do I give it energy through thought, words and actions over a consistent period of time? This is a decision that we all need to make in all areas of our lives especially with things that are important to us no matter how busy we may think we are in our lives.

This brings me to the extraordinary ladies in Minowa Sensei’s stretching class (my understanding is that it is a class for Over 50’s). Every Tuesday they come together and do various activities together. Last time I visited Japan I attended this class and I would have never considered that I would be dancing, doing team building activities, playing scissors, paper, rock and stretching. What kind of stretching class was this?

This week I was fortunate to return to Minowa Sensei’s stretching class and we played Volleyball. Too much fun!!! It was unbelievable the way they moved their bodies. We all had our knee pads on and some of the ladies were going in for slides on their knees to pop the ball up and keep the ball in play. The ongoing consistent time and effort these ladies put into their overall health is inspirational. Much like in the dojo, the stretching class captures many elements which elevate you to greater heights mentally, physically, spiritually, emotionally and socially.

Other experiences outside of the dojo that have had a huge impact on me is driving about Kumamoto with Soke Sensei and witnessing the remains of the April earthquakes. Before coming to Japan I had seen pictures on the internet but being here in person has given me greater awareness and appreciation of the effects of the earthquakes. I feel deeply for all who have been effected by these earthquakes.


And just last night I had the opportunity to go along to a festival with Minowa Sensei and Tomiko-san. Spectacular. I’m sure I stood out a little too much as a foreigner all dressed up in a yukata but thankfully we got to sit for a good while enjoying the many performances. A couple of days ago Minowa Sensei brought some traditional footwear to the dojo for me to practice walking in before the festival. Let’s just say I’m glad I had the practice. Things could have went very wrong. I’m also grateful for Marc Sensei’s special coaching as to ‘how to walk’. This was also very valuable. Maybe next time Marc Sensei will have to teach me how to run in this footwear because for some reason I couldn’t keep up with Minowa Sensei or Tomiko-san.


Today was my rest day so I decided to take one of the bikes for a spin to Kumamoto Castle. There was something nice about sitting back at the park watching the sprint team do laps whilst I caught up with Martin, Sami and Steven. I know you aren’t meant to use mobile phones when driving a car but I’m not sure about a mobile phone on your handle bars whilst riding. It was interesting and Martin and the kids got to see a little more of the Kumamoto sky whilst I tried to find a quiet place to chat with them.



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