Friday, December 14, 2007

The second world exclusive interview!

That's right! As Mr. Mike Spain's visit in Japan draws to a close, I rather slyly snuck in some interview style questions to see what his experience was like. Actually, if I'm honest, I wasn't sly at all since he knew full well about the interview... oh well...

L: It's been quite a whirlwind week and a half! What don't you just summarize some of the things you've done aside from train.

MS: Well, I got to visit the Nippon Budokan to see the Japan Cup, I went to Nikko, and just today, Yamazaki Sensei and Yoshihara Sensei (ed- two Shiramizu staff members) took me to see the Sekiyado-Jo (ed- an old fort-cum-museum in Chiba, see its website here).

L: Nice! So how do you feel about the main point of your trip; the karate?

MS: It's definitely been a great experience. There's so many little things I've been frantically writing down after each class, it's hard to keep track of. But as of right now, I plan on coming back in March to keep working on it.

L: How about some more general observations? Maybe some parallels or differences in teaching methods between classes you've taken here and the classes you run in Thailand?

MS: One thing I was extremely impressed with while I was here was the professionalism of Arakawa Sensei. The dojo runs very smoothly and the students were generally hard working and I always felt that Arakawa Sensei tried very hard to make sure that the students clearly understand what he is demonstrating. Even for me, while I didn't understand the language, I still managed to follow the examples given. I've trained with different people and the ability to clearly convey ideas can sometimes be a bit rare.

L: Any opinion on things beyond that? How was the food?

MS: Amazing! All the food I've had from the restaurants to the breakfasts at the guest house have all been delicious. I'm so grateful for how everyone has gone out of their way to make my stay so enjoyable. I mean, Yamazaki Sensei and Yoshihara Sensei took me around to so many shops because I mentioned some things I had on my shopping list I hadn't found yet. Or how I wanted to meet Takagi Sensei and Arakawa Sensei found time to take me to train at Guseikai. (ed- Takagi Sensei is now interested in hosting the next Guseikai camp in Thailand.)

L: It certainly helps that your guest house is near dojo- near all the action, eh?

MS: Yeah. I also tend to be uncomfortable around lots of people and while it was never a problem at the dojo, I'm glad I was in a smaller town where things are a bit quieter. And the small town atmosphere with the open-arms welcome at the dojo makes it much easier to be drawn into the community feeling.

L: So what are your goals now for your karate in Thailand?

MS: Well, I've got the ball rolling with a personal membership to the Wadokai. I'll be studying the differences to learn them and then, eventually, I will take the shodan exam. Afterwards, I want to work on training my students so that they'll be ready to take a dan exam themselves. I also want to look into having the dojo join the Wadokai as that will open doors for my students.

L: Sounds like a plan! I dare say that everyone here was really happy that you came.

MS: I'm really happy I came, although it did go by very quickly. About the only way I can really sum it all up is to say that this experience has been so good, I'm already thinking about how to make sure I can come back in March!

L: Great. So I'll be seeing you then, eh?

MS: That's right! I can't wait...........

Mike re-wetting the hammer during a local mochitsuki ceremony, just like how he is readying himself to come back in March.

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