Monday, July 14, 2008

The English-English Intern Interview

Lawrence again and yes indeed, it's time for another Shiramizu Internship Interview! This time (and probably the last time from me) we have Mr. Intern v4.0, Carl Jorgeson.

The first non-Canadian intern, Carl (and Amy) has been settling into the intern groove rather well so I thought it'd be a great time to see what's what...

L: Why don't you tell everyone a bit about yourself?
C: My name's Carl Jorgeson, I'm 25 and I'm from Hartlepool (ed- Hart-lee-pool), England. Back home, I'm a Line Manager for Tesco PLC, which is the largest supermarket chain in the country. I also run my own dojo, Hartlepool Wadokai (, which has approximately 70 members and is a part of Sakagami Sensei's Aiwakai Karatedo Federation as well as England Wadokai.

In my spare time, I like to train for karate competition where my preference is kumite. I'm also on the England Wadokai National Team for kumite and at last year's European Wadokai Championships, I brought home an individual bronze and team bronze for kumite.

L: Wow, busy man! Such a huge part of your life, how did you get started in karate?
C: I got started when I was 5. My parents had already been training for a while and my older brother had been training for about a year. I wanted to start when my brother did but I was too young. So, on my 5th birthday, I was finally allowed to start training.

L: That's a nice birthday present! And then how did you hear about the internship?
C: I registered on the Yahoo! Wado Karate Forum and I saw a post by Richard Sensei about the internship, so I sent an email asking for more information and grew to love the idea of it.

L: So then what was it about this Intern that you grew to love?
C: Well, I just liked the sound of what I'd be doing. I had always wanted to visit Japan and I think I was at a point in my career and my life where if I didn't come to Japan now, I never would. Also, I picked up an injury just before last year's European Wadokai Championships and though I managed to limp through the competition, I've had a lot of problems getting back into shape since. I thought training intensively in Japan for a year would be a perfect remedy for this.
Also, I was allowed to bring my fiance Amy along, who also happens to love karate and is on the England Wadokai National Team. So, it just made perfect sense to come...

L: Well, now that you've actually arrived and had a chance both to see a tiny bit of Japan as well as sweat profusely at the dojo, what are your first impressions? Both of Japan and of Shiramizu?
C: For starters, Japan is hotter than I expected, but I'm coping for now. I think everyone has been so friendly and helpful, from all the Shiramizu instructors, students and their parents to the strangers I walk past on the way to the train station in the morning.

As for Shiramizu, the standard here is second to none. The first night we were here, we watched a kyu grading where some kids didn't make the grade. By our own standards, we would have probably passed everyone one of them, and our club is very strict with gradings! It just shows how high Arakawa Sensei's standards are. And it works. The work ethic, even from the youngest of kids, is great. They concentrate and try their best when they're training. Of course, after class, the kids are very lively, play fighting with each other etc........ it's great!

L: Ah yes, the play fighting with kids..... I tend to lose unfortunately haha..... anyway, how do you feel about Arakawa Sensei himself?
C: I find he's very laid back, but he has a great way of explaining things. Even though I don't speak the language yet, I can usually follow what he's saying.

L: I found that too and, as it turns out, I learned a lot of Japanese just from watching Arakawa Sensei and matching his words to his actions. Well then, now that you're here, what kind of goals have you set for yourself in this one year? Both karate and otherwise?
C: My karate goals; Get my nidan and work towards my sandan; Place in the Top 3 of most of the tournaments I'll enter in kumite (not including the Wadokai Nationals); Learn the Shiramizu way of doing Wadoryu.

Other goals? Learn the Japanese language well enough to get my thoughts across; Help Arakawa Sensei with his English!; Set up an English class just for the Shiramizu instructors; Climb Mt. Fuji; See and experience as much of the country as possible; and learn the practice methods of Shiramizu so that I can incorporate some of those ideas into Hartlepool Wadokai.

L: Quite a list there..... a perfect way of spending the year =)...... do you have any other hobbies?
C: Outside of karate, I like sea-kayaking, rock climbing, and scuba diving. I also like to climb/walk hills and mountains when I have the time.

L: And Mt. Fuji is certainly the "hill" to "walk" heh...... any other things you're liking about Japan?
C: Well, I like the people here; everyone is really friendly. I also like the work ethic in that people don't take sick days here! I also like the efficiency of the train and the architecture of the houses and the gardens, especially since I have a Japanese garden at home.

L: Oh nice........... anything you don't like?
C: It's hot. And humid (ed- Yes it is......). There's also a lack of vegetarian food/options. And there's quite a bit of smog, especially around Tokyo. The last thing is having to commute to work for two hours by train- each way! I'm used to being 15 minutes away from my workplace.
(Richard here - the Thu and Fri English conversation classes are in the city which requires some time on the train whereas the rest of the English classes are at the Shiramizu dojo, a 5-7min bike ride from the new intern apartment.)

L: Ah yes, that can get a bit wearing..... and now that you've trained here a few times, how is the karate different from that of England's?
C: The main and most important difference is the frequency of training. The Japanese train or can train everyday, especially at Shiramizu where the door is literally always open. In the UK, the standard is for people to train once or twice a week, possible with a training course on the weekend.

This obviously has an effect on the standards of Japanese dojos compared to UK dojos...

L: I see I see........ well, it certainly sounds like you have your goals set for the next year so.... have at it!
C: Thanks!

And have at it indeed. Carl (and Amy) have been doing very well these past two weeks with all the people really enjoying their company and the effort they put into the training. And the Japanese English students, while still getting used to a new teacher, have warmed up to Carl quite quickly so no problems there.

So keep checking the blog to see how the v4.0 Intern evolves into v4.1.... then v4.2..... v4.3....

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