Monday, May 12, 2008

A year at Shiramizu.

While it's easy to get lost in the barrage of posts on this blog, the feeling of constant activity is actually real. Shiramizu's a very active dojo so I thought I'd summarize for you guys all the things that happen. While the dates will sometimes change year in and year out, it'll at least give a good feel for all the big things that happen.


The New Year starts with the "hatsumode" which sees a big portion of the dojo members walk to a temple in nearby Satte City to pray for the New Year followed by the first practice of the year.

(Picture is of Arakawa Sensei's trophy case at the dojo).

January also sees the Nippon Budokan hold their own New Year's opening ceremony, known as the "kagami biraki". It includes a ceremonious ritual, demonstrations from all the styles of martials, and ends with representatives from each form all taking to the floor to have a one hour practice session. The past few years Shiramizu has been invited to go, under Takagi Sensei and his Gusekai Club, to represent the karate world.

Also this past January, I went to a Wadokai training camp at the Tokyo Agricultural University. These camps are held throughout the year at various times and let you pick kata or kumite to focus on during your time there. They're also usually two days, though some don't do both days.


A bit of a slow month, yet equally important- Chiba's dan grading took place this past February.


Hot on the tails of the Chiba dan exam is Tokyo's dan grading.

It's also during this time that Shiramizu holds its kyu gradings.

March 20th is also a national holiday and it during this time Arakawa Sensei holds the Shiramizu Taikai. Held in a large gym in Kuki City next to Sugito, it's part competition, part showcase for all of Shiramizu's students. Everyone enters, everyone competes, everyone demos, and everyone has a good time.

Also in March is the Kanto area Wadokai tournament. This is a huge tournament and is the first big tournament of the year.

Soon after the Wadokai tournament was the Kita-Katsushika-Gun tournament. This is a district wide tournament (Kita-Katsushika is an area that holds a number of smaller towns) open to all styles.


Despite both Western and Japanese New Year's occurring earlier in the year, April is when Japan (all of Japan) starts new things. New work schedules, new school years, new jobs, everything. Everything including a new dojo training schedule. So most of the month is spent getting it all in order and settling down.


May is home to the All-Saitama Prefecture tournament. Aside from being important in and of itself, it also serves to determine which athletes get to represent Saitama in a national tournament later in the year.


So far this year, it seems to be pretty quiet. The monthly Shiramizu schedule does point out a Gojukai tournament and the Shiramizu members book lists a training camp though the dates have yet to be determined (if at all).


Normally Shiramizu either goes abroad with 20-30 members, like New Zealand or Canada, or there is a training camp in another part of Japan.


Shiramizu's "natsu gashuku" (summer camp) is held over three days in August in Chiba, near the International Budo University. However, this year it's being held in July because August is the World Wadokai Championships in Vancouver.

The JKF Wadokai National Championships are held in the Nippon Budokan.


The first Wadokai training camp I attended took place last September. Of course, the dates change all the time (there was one this past March, for example, though I didn't go) but it's safe to say that they happen often enough.

The Tobu City Taikai also takes place late in September. It compromises of many of the cities and towns in the eastern part of Saitama, the tournament is held in Kuki.


Early October is the Sugito City Taikai, a small local tournament for the few dojos in and around Sugito.


Shiramizu holds another kyu grading during this time.


Early in December is the Wing Cup, a tournament where the only event is Team Kumite. It's open to all elementary, junior, and senior high school athletes.

Also in December is the All-Japan Nationals Championships called the Japan Karatedo Cup, which is definitely worth going to watch because it is the most important karate event of the year.

The year's training ends with a year end training session at the Asukaru Community Centre where all the members show up. A 2hr practice followed by "senbontsuki" (1000 punches) is a great way to end the the year of training.

But the real year end get together is the Shiramizu Bonenkai. Eat, drink, and be merry!

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