Although we visit Japan in February 2017, it was time for a dedicated trip to Japan to study Budo (Japanese Martial Art) only. Therefore, our head instructor Dr. Chris de Feijter travelled to Japan for an intense 12 days of keiko (practice and study) of Budo.
The day after I arrived in Japan, I met Ito-san at Roppongi station. Ito-san is a senior member of Meifu Shinkage-ryu. We decided to travel to the dojo on the east coast of Chiba Prefecture together, which was about a 2-hour trip. When we arrived, the temperature was already extremely hot.
After everyone assisted with setting up the targets (tatami mats), quite some hours of intense and enjoyable training started. Other MSR members joined as well, and some of them had brought quite a variety of shuriken (bo and hira) along. During the day, we explored many different type of shuriken, and went through the entire MSR curriculum. Although quite jetlagged and temperature-fried, and at times, I felt that I was dozing away due to a lack of sleep, the day went very well.
On a different day, I also attended a regular Meifu Shinkage Ryu session. This was in the Moto-Yawata sub-dojo. Members are not allowed to use metal shuriken in this dojo, however, ohashi (chopsticks) and a carton box as target really works well. We also performed Shodan and Sandan kata for two potential new members.
Although I had not planned to do any keiko in Yagyu Shinkage-ryu on this trip, by miracle I stumbled upon a small group of Shinkage-ryu members in a Budokan in Tokyo. After I introduced myself, I was invited to attend keiko. First inside in Keikogi, but then we were asked to leave the hall and we continued our studies outside in the heat. We worked on a variety of drills as well as on Sangakuen-no-tachi. It was a delightful session, and although extremely hot, I made a connection that will last for a lifetime.
The next 5 days were very intense, studying Masaki-ryu Nakajima-ha. Five full days of keiko, studying a variety of tools from the Hojo and Manrikigusari to the Marohoshi and the Kusarigama. My training partner, who is a very experienced budoka, dedicated all his time to study with me. Painful, extremely hot, and so many skills that I can count these 5 days as one of the most intense budo keiko I have done.
The last weekend of this amazing Japan trip, I visited Mount Fuji-san. Well, it was great to see Fuji-san, however, I was there for two days of intense Nihon Jujutsu keiko. We went through Shoden, Chuden, and Okuden skills. Again hot, painful, but extremely satisfying. Besides, I was able to see one of the most extensive collection of budo weapons, consisting of many antique pieces (jitte, sai, katana). At the end of the two days, Sensei awarded me the license of ni-dan quite unexpectedly, as well as the honour to start my own Nihon Jujutsu group.
Back in Canada, and after a good rest, quite a few inquiries of students came about. After starting the Nihon Jujutsu group, 4 new students joined almost right away. Some of these students also joined Meifu Shinkage Ryu. In addition, two new Meifu Shinkage Ryu students joined, bringing the total number of new students to 6. Not only am I thrilled, it is also a great honour to teach these new members the Budo that I am extremely passionate about.