Monday, February 25, 2008

Shodan Shinsa in Chiba

Shiramizu students going for their shodan or nidan rank! The student in the red/white tracksuit top in the front is Yusuke, Arakawa Sensei's oldest son.

This past Feb 23rd was the Wadokai Shodan Shinsa (Shodan examination) out in the neighbouring Chiba Prefecture, at an elementary school in Urayasu City, also home to Tokyo Disneyland. Out of the 80 or so people attending, 12 of us were from Shiramizu- 9 testing for their shodan and 3 (including me) for nidan.

The day started off at 10:30 with an hour and a half training/seminar. It wasn't anything out of the ordinary, just lots of ido kihon. We then broke off into groups and had some kata and kihon kumite practice. At 12, we stopped for lunch for an hour and, at 1, the actual examination started.

With so many people, it was inevitable that there was a lot of time spent not moving, which makes it difficult to stay warm. Luckily, the sunlight was doing a rather decent job up until 4pm or so, so it wasn't too bad. But still, even with the 1st kyu students going up 5 at a time, it wasn't until nearly 3pm that it was my turn.

For all the 1st kyu students, it was a set of kihon (simple chudan tsuki and mae geri), followed by all the ido kihon except tobi komi tsuki and tobi komi nagashi tsuki. After that, they had to perform the kata of their choice (seishan and chinto were the favourites) in a staggered start manner.

For nidan challengers and above, it was exactly the same except with the two tobi komi ido kihon and two kata instead of one. They also trimmed the number of people testing from 5 to 3.

After all that, which took about 3 hours, there was a short break before we sat back down to do the kihon kumite and jiyu kumite. Those testing for their shodan did ipponmei only while nidan had to choose one out of the first 4 and the one out of the last 5. Then we went straight into jiyu kumite (with no gloves!). By the time we finished, it was nearly 5pm when the judges went off to decide the outcome.

To be honest, while the grading was a great experience especially in terms of being able to perform under pressure, I learned the most in the days leading up to the grading itself. There's a lot of intangible elements to sport and karate is no exception. A lot of different elements of the timing and feel of the muscles and the movements are all things that I've been discovering as I put in all the hours at the dojo for self training and regular classes.

For me, particularly, I've always had an issue with being tense and the harder I try, the more tense I become. So one of the things I've been slowly discovering is how to try harder properly- to be able to try without adding more tension. I'm still not there yet, but prepping for the exam has helped with some insight on that.

But aside from all that, I'm happy to say that everyone from the dojo passed! So congratulations to all and now it's nose back to the grind stone as we reach deeper to further ourselves because, as I realised on the way home, getting here is by no means the end.


Monday, February 4, 2008

New Intern: Congratulations to Carl!

The newest intern has now been chosen by Shiramizu for July 1, 2008 to July 1, 2009. We want to thank all those people who applied, as well as those people who sent in questions already asking about next year's position!

The intern chosen for this year was by far our best applicant, and he just happens to be in the Wadokai. But we are open to anyone who practices any karate style who wants to apply so for those people interested, keep your eye on this blog for an announcement soon about 2009!

Below, Lawrence has an interview with our new intern!

Congrats indeed to Carl Jorgeson for being chosen as Shiramizu's 4th intern starting from this July 1! Carl is an English Wadokai member living in Hartlepool, who helps run the Hartlepool Wadokai Karate Club. Hartlepool Wadokai is also a member of Wado Aiwakai Karate-do Federation, under the guidance of Kuniaki Sakagami Sensei.

Even better is that the congratulations can be extended to Carl's fiance Amy who is also a Wadokai member, making the two of them Shiramizu's first ever Internship Couple!

I've got an exclusive interview with the next Shiramizu Intern...

Lawrence: So, I'm sure many people are wondering, why did you apply?

Carl: I applied because travelling to Japan to train karate has been a long term ambition of mine, and the internship seemed like a great way of integrating myself into Japanese culture. The application pack said 'be immersed in the world of Japanese karate' and that really appealed to me. I also thought I should do it before I settle down and started a family.

L: The last part is definitely true- this is something best done with youth and energy! How about a goal or particular achievement you have in sights for your year here?

C: I just want to train karate intensely for a year and, as an active competitor, this can only be a good thing. I also want to experience as much [of Japan] as possible. I want to build on the success of the previous interns in making the role even better. I've thought about trying for my nidan qualification whilst in Japan, too. Finally, as the first 'non-Canadian' on the program, I want to do a good job and be a great ambassador for Sensei Sakagami and my association back home in England.

L: How about Japan itself? Have you been to Japan before and what did you think about it? Or, if you haven't, what are you most looking forward to experiencing?

C: I've never been to Japan before, but I've been involved in karate most of my life and all of my immediate family are also involved in karate. So, Japan has always been at the top of my 'wish list'. I'm most looking forward to experiencing the social nature of Japan, and getting stuck into the hard-working, community-first society.

And so, it goes without saying that with his open mind and motivation, Carl's going to do a fine job.