Saturday, August 22, 2009

Carl Came Back!

Louise here,

Carl, Intern #4.0 (2008-2009) has recently visited Japan again. I took the opportunity to interview him:

How long have you been away?

About 40 days and 40 nights…

What did you do while you were at home?

I was quite busy actually. Amy and I had selections for the England Wadokai National Team a few days after we got back to the UK. We were both selected for kumite and to our surprise and more so to our horror, also for kata.

The week after that, we entered the Central England Karate Championships, Amy got 3rd place in Team Kumite and I got 3rd in Individual Kumite. It wasn’t a bad result considering that we were accustomed to fighting in Japanese events.

I ran a three week summer school for my club, Hartlepool Wadokai and started teaching some of the things I learned whilst training in Japan. I also had a lot of meetings with schools and sports centres arranging new Branch Dojo to start in September.

My dad also waited until I got back to the UK to start some major building work in his big old house. Whilst digging in the back yard we found a lot of human bones. So, it turned into a really big drama with lots of Police. Eventually, a university professor turned up to tell everyone that our family aren’t serial killers. It then turned into a two day archaeological dig that I helped with. It was really quite interesting, it turns out that my parents house was built on an Anglo-Saxon Monastery dating to about 640AD, and that the bones we found probably belonged to medieval nuns who were some of the first Christians in England.

Finally, over the weekend, we moved back into our house and started fixing 18 months of damage done by our tenants.
A busy 40 days…!

Why have you come back to Japan?

Well, when it came time to buy the flights home at the end of the internship, it was cheaper to buy a return ticket than one-way. So, I decided to make the return ticket good to compete in the JKF-Wadokai Nationals. I really wanted to see if I could improve on my ‘best-16’ placing in last year’s kumite event.

So, with my ego well and truly making the calls, I asked Arakawa Sensei to enter me into the competition again this year.

Update on the competition: I managed to crash out of kumite in the first round which naturally gave my ego a battering. I really don’t know what went wrong, my preparation was good; I was in relatively good shape and I got into the fight early, leading most of the way but eventually losing 4-3.

Carl in action

In kata, I also didn’t make it through which I really didn’t expect. I thought my kata performance was the best I’ve ever done, until I lost my balance and wobbled a bit, which lost me the bout.

The trip wasn’t all a complete waste though, because I got to climb Mount Fuji and catch the sunrise with my karate sister, Louise Fisk (New Zealand Wadokai) who is half of this year’s internship. This is something that we really wanted to do during the internship but we didn’t have time.

Where is Amy?

You’re not the first one to ask that question….! Amy is busy making our home suitable for human habitation and is already back at work with the Police, earning money to pay for everything etc… She wanted to come too, but we had a game of ‘rock-paper-scissors’ to decide who got to come back, and I won with my secret move ‘Sensei Scissors’. Amy does send her love though and she’ll be back next year for the Wado World Cup.

What do you miss about Japan?

The biggest thing is the feeling when you’re training at Shiramizu; it’s hard to put into words. The dojo has such a great atmosphere; everyone is working hard but having a great time doing it. Also, because everyone is at such a high technical standard, it makes everyone, even a cave-troll like me, perform better.

What did you most look forward to going back home?

A garlic sauce vegetarian Pizza from Mario’s pizza place in Church Street. No really!

What was the best experience you had while you were an Intern?

The best experience would have to be when Amy and I climbed Nantai-san in the Nikko national park. We had such a great time doing it, and it was the first time in ages that we had spent the day together after working and training so much. You should read the blog post that I wrote about it.

What do you think of the internship looking back on it?

I’m glad I did it and had the opportunity to meet so many nice people. If I had never applied, I probably would never have been introduced to Arakawa Sensei or got to know him. I think he’s a really nice guy who’s created something special at Shiramizu. I hope to learn from his example and re-create that feeling at my own dojo.

I think the internship is ideal for someone fresh out of university/college, before they get settled into the workplace. I think, looking back on last year, I had too many responsibilities at home to step away completely for 12 months; it really doesn’t help that I’m a total control freak either! Towards the end of the internship, I ended up micro-managing my dojo from Japan, I also took on more responsibilities within Sakagami Sensei’s association in England. This in addition to my intern duties and training made me a very busy guy…!

What’s next for you then?

We have an England Wadokai Kata Squad training session on Saturday 22nd (I get home at night on Thursday 20th), so I have a day to get over my jet-lag! Then hopefully, if I’m still awake, I’ll be able to attend the Sensei Bob Nash (US Wadokai) seminar which he is teaching in England on the Sunday too.

After that, I’ll have a few days off then Amy and I will get ready for the British Karate Federation (BKF) Championships in Edinburgh on 5th & 6th September. We’ve arranged quite a few seminars at our dojo with some of our association’s top instructors, then we fly out to Dublin, Ireland on 20th October for the FEW European Wadokai Championships.
I’m planning to come back in July next year, to have a long build up at Shiramizu before transferring to Nagoya City for the Wado World Cup. I’d also like another crack at the JKF-Wadokai Nationals again (the week after the World Cup) if that’s possible.

See you all next year…!

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