Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Shiramizu Summer Camp, 19th & 20th July 2008

The Nippon Budokan Training Centre in Chiba was the venue for the Shiramizu dojo annual summer training camp. It took place on Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th July 2008 and 97 Shiramizu students attended.

Amy and I were kindly invited to go along by Arakawa Sensei, despite it primarily being a child-orientated weekend. With us being big kids ourselves, we naturally jumped at the chance! It would be a great way to see how this camping trip compares to our own Hartlepool Wadokai version and it would also be a good training weekend.

We had an early start on the Saturday morning where we had to meet in the local kindergarten car park at 6:00am. Arakawa Sensei gave a short talk to everyone and when he had all the helpers/instructors lined up, he introduced us all and we all had to give a short speech. Amy and I weren't actually officials, we were just there for kicks, though we would still help out wherever we could.

The various Sensei got everyone locked and loaded on the coaches and we were ready to leave for 7:00am. We were on bus 2 with Yoshihara & Yamazaki Sensei and also Yuki Sempai, one of the cadets who was acting as an official for the weekend.

The journey was very long, approximately 6 hours including a number of breaks. The kids didn't seem to mind the journey and had very high spirits throughout. The kids all started cheering as soon as they could see the coastline.

We got to the Nippon Budokan Training Centre at about 1.30pm, and by the time we got everyone unpacked and had got through the welcome/introductions in the hotel foyer, it was close to 2pm. Sensei announced that training would begin at 2pm, so we had a few minutes to get changed and get to the Dojo. In the medley that followed, I managed to lose Lawrence who had the key to our room and, more importantly knew my room number. Uehara Sensei must have sensed my dismay, because he quickly told me which room I was staying in.

The room that we were staying at was very traditional, with tatami on the floor and futons hidden in a big cupboard that are simply pulled out and rolled along the floor when its bedtime.

We got changed and headed down to the training venue; we walked past a huge dojo which had Kendo-ka and Judo-ka busy training inside. I had to resist the urge to stay and watch.

The training was pretty standard by Shiramizu standards, we ran through a lot of basics and then we split for Kata. All the officials were given their own group of students to teach. I think Sensei could tell that everyone was starting to tire a little. So he stopped the training and got everyone to have various races from one end of the hall to the next, performing different techniques. The highlight of this bit of training was the jumping Sando-geri which Arakawa Sensei expertly demonstrated. This short ice-breaker gave everyone enough of an energy boost to finish off with Kumite.

We (the Dan grades) were primarily taught Kumite by Fujimoto Sensei, who use to be on the Japan National Team. He was very good at explaining things, and his English was pretty good too. I learned quite a lot about closing down the distance and breaking the line from him. The other students were split into smaller groups and led by different people, including a few University students. The day's training finished with the Seniors (...and me!) having a short Kumite session whilst everyone else observed.

The training finished and we bowed out and went to get changed for a barbeque. It was pretty cool, the kids were divided up and the Dan grade kids were put in charge of cooking on the hot plate for their respective teams. It was really good to see and quite funny watching some of the kids concentrating really hard on cooking one burger at a time, and then be uncertain of which hungry kid to give it too. The various sensei gave them all some advice, which was basically 'throw everything on!'

Everyone got there fill and we finished off with some fireworks. All the kids (and me and Amy!) were given a big pack with various sparklers.

After everyone got cleaned up and the kids were all in bed, we had a bit of a chill out in Arakawa Sensei's room, all the officials (and us) were treated to a late night snack of ice cream, which was lovely!

It was another early start, 6.00am. The original idea was to go for a run up to a close-by vantage point, do a bit of training and then run back. However, Arakawa sensei hurt his leg yesterday, so the run turned into a walk, for the most part anyway. For which we were all grateful. We stopped at the half way point to perform some basics and work up a sweat, and then we headed back.
After the walk, we had a Japanese style breakfast and then we were off to the Dojo for more training. This session was a little over an hour, and we covered more basics and quickly moved onto kata. This time, Amy and I were taught by Yamazaki Sensei along with the other Dan grades. Todays training was finished off with an exhibition match between two younger students, with full head gear.

After training, we packed up and loaded the coaches and set off for Kanagawa Sea world. This was a relatively short bus ride, and the scenery kept the children occupied.

The kids were organised into their teams again and sent on their way into the park to see the sights. The team leaders were kitted out with synchronised watches so that they wouldn't be late back too, a very good idea!. We spent a few hours there, and had lunch, and then headed home.

All in all, it was a very well organised weekend. It was a lot of travelling for two days, but it was still very enjoyable for everyone. The trip to sea world in particular was very enjoyable for the kids.


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