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2024 Japan Training Trip

 

Train, eat, train, eat, train, eat, sleep, repeat. That was the schedule for the most recent Japan training trip in May for Adam Higgins Shihan, Brendan Young Sensei, and Sam Lenton Sensei. They were joined at the Sohonbu (headquarters dojo) in Kumamoto, Japan by Mark Snow Renshi, Adam McDonald Sensei, and Peter Elphick Sensei for a week of intensive training with Nidaime Soke (second-generation Soke) and Sandaime Soke (third-generation Soke), along with Higuchi Kyoshi and Todd Tournat Renshi.

 

As soon as we arrived on the Sunday, the Gold Coast crew dropped our bags and prepared to join in with a kobujyutsu seminar being run by Higuchi Kyoshi. This set the tone for the rest of the week, and was two hours of invaluable instruction and insights. We started with basics (numbers 1-16) before moving into the basic kata, getting detailed feedback from Higuchi Kyoshi along the way. With further kobujyutsu sessions on the Monday and Wednesday, with a Friday session run by Todd Tournat Renshi, we had plenty of feedback and information to bring back to the Gold Coast dojo. Sandaime Soke also ran a kobujyutsu class on the Monday evening, which reinforced what we’d been learning the previous two days and culminated in a sneak peek at the new nunchaku kata coming our way: Ryuu Kumo (Dragon Cloud).

Morning training with Nidaime Soke was traditional, starting with a 30-minute seiza then fast kihons. No matter how fast we went, Nidaime Soke exhorted us to go faster. This provided a great opportunity to find the centre and relax; some of us were more successful at that than others but the important thing is to never give up. At Tuesday’s morning training we then went into Niseishi bunkai work, on Thursday we worked on our kata, and on Saturday morning we focused on kaishu (open hand) training before creating our own personal kata at the very end. After each session, Nidaime Soke shared advice and information that left us thinking more deeply about our karate and understanding our techniques more holistically. Then, we did souji (cleaning the floors) which included the front steps of the dojo. It was fun to do this as a group and to think about the generations of students who have come before us, all of whom had also washed those very same floors and front steps. We heard some stories about the tracks worn into the wooden floor by students practising suriashi (sliding feet) over the decades, and the way the 2016 earthquake had damaged the building.


On Friday night, the Gold Coast crew was also lucky enough to be invited to Masuda Sensei’s dojo, which is just over the hill from the Sohonbu along narrow, twisty roads with plenty of hairpin turns and hair-raising intersections. Fortunately, we were being driven by an expert—one of Masuda Sensei’s senior students—so we made it there and back quite safely. We each had the opportunity to teach Masuda Sensei’s younger students who were just as respectful as they were fun-loving, and we all came away with big smiles. Then, we focused on our bojyutsu basics and went through the kata. It was wonderful to get additional perspectives from Masuda Sensei and his senior students to add to the input we’d gained during the week from Sandaime Soke, Higuchi Kyoshi, and Todd Tournat Renshi.


After Saturday morning training and souji, it was time to pack up and head off. While Adam Sensei and Brendan Sensei had flights back to Australia the following day, Sam Sensei checked into a local hotel in preparation for a day trip on Sunday to Hiroshima, which is less than two hours away from Kumamoto by shinkansen (bullet train). Before we knew it, we were all back in the Gold Coast dojo, ready to put our learnings into practice and share what we had discovered.

The next Japan training trip is likely to happen March-May 2025. If you are ranked 3 rd kyu and above, and you’d like to be part of it, register your interest with Adam Sensei. Make sure you read
this article on training in Japan so you know what to expect:
https://edojo.gckarate.com.au/front-page/membership-policies/training-in-japan/  (members only)

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