Wednesday, April 25, 2012

On Friday and Sunday of the International Budo Seminar, time blocks were set aside for participants to train in their primary martial art. In my case, I used Friday’s session for Judo while joining the Aikido group on Sunday. In addition to these regularly scheduled blocks, the dojos remained open each evening so that people might gather and train with one-another freely. These open-mat sessions are, perhaps, the best part of the budo seminar.

The Friday Judo training was something of a disappointment. Very few Judo players from outside the International Budo University came to the seminar. Perhaps because of this, the Judo sensei neglected to make the training session instructive. Instead, it was thirty minutes of randori (sparring) and little else. The four of us Judo bekkasei were joined by eight or so Judo players from the university and a visiting sensei from Tokyo.
What frustrated me in particular about this “special training” was that the Judo players joining us from the University were regular members of our daily judo club. Despite this, these Judo players had never deigned to train with us bekkasei in the entirety of the previous year. Furthermore, these Japanese students were obviously unenthusiastic and did not train seriously.

Though I had officially signed up with Judo as my primary Budo, the sincere enthusiasm of the Aikido practitioners convinced me to join them for training on Sunday. Throughout the day on Friday and Saturday, whenever someone came up to say hi and introduce themselves to me, it was inevitably an aikidoka. Of special note were two young aikidoka—Senya from Israel and Faik from Sri Lanka—who joined me for some additional training on Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon. Having the opportunity to train with such an international group of people is an extraordinarily valuable experience as each person brings something unique to the dojo. Senya, for example, had trained with many visually impaired people in the past. This was readily apparent in the clear way he demonstrated one variation of kokyuudousa (breath throw). Faik, on the other hand, was very energetic and paid special attention to the taking of balance. This is, of course, fundamental to the practice of Aikido, but one that some people do overlook.

At the Sunday Aikido session, I was lucky enough to spend the entire hour training with Kanazawa Sensei from the Aikikai Hombu Dojo. Kanazawa Sensei is a humble man with incredibly smooth Aikido. He is well known, especially in the international community, for the respect he shows the foreign aikidoka who come to Aikikai’s main dojo in Tokyo. Interestingly, I discovered later that my own Sensei—David Mata—had also trained with Kanazawa Sensei on his trip to Japan several years ago.

The absolute highlight of the Budo Seminar, however, was the opportunity to train with a good friend from my former home in Kitakyushu: Thierry Comont. As I have mentioned in a previous entry, Thierry is an expert on the style of sword-work Miyamoto Musashi developed while living on Kyushu. It was originally Aikido that brought Thierry to Japan, though, and his Aikido is brilliant. As other friends have noted in the past, you have only to watch Thierry walk to know he is a martial artist of the truest sense. His movements are self-assured and controlled; he is humble and polite to a fault.
Thierry and I got together to train on Saturday evening after dinner. Within only a short time, we gathered a small audience of interested spectators. Thierry pays particular attention to small details. AS he has told me in the past, "I want people to see you and be impressed; you must be ready at all times and never let down your guard."

This is precisely how Thierry trains. In every moment he is prepared; when he comes up from a roll, he is immediately in position and ready in case someone might attack. Similarly, Thierry pushes you to be in complete control of your own Aikido at all times. If there is ever a moment when he feels he can escape from a technique, he will fight free. In my opinion, this is exactly how Aikido should be practiced. Because it is a gentle art, people too often underestimate the real power behind the movements of Aikido. Perhaps this is because there are so many people who have lost the real sense of Aikido while training. The moment a partner begins to resist a technique you can start to feel whether you truly have control… or if you are just using muscle.

The International Seminar on Budo Culture is one of the great reasons people travel to Japan to do martial arts. Ironically, it is not the Japanese Sensei themselves who attract participants to the seminar, but rather it is the chance to train with so many people from so many places. As I have stated before; the benefit of living and training in Japan does not come from the Japanese Sensei alone. Of course, Sensei like Kanazawa Sensei are gifted instructors who have devoted their lives to Budo. The real benefit of living and training in Japan comes from the fact that Japan is the international hub for the martial arts. When people think about Karate, Judo, Aikido or Kendo, their minds immediately turn toward the land of the rising sun.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The 24th anual International Seminar on Budo Culture

This past March, I was excited to attend the 24th annual International Seminar of Budo Culture. For those of us—shall we say “fascinated”—by the martial arts, this is an opportunity to meet and train with like-minded people from around the world. Every year, the International Budo University, in conjunction with the Nippon Budokan, hosts this seminar on budo culture and practice in Katsuura. From March 9th to the 12th, over a hundred foreigners met in Katsuura for the four day seminar. This year’s topic was the introduction of the martial arts in Japan’s school curriculum.

The International Seminar on Budo Culture is open to foreign residents of Japan who hold at least a shodan in some modern Budo art. Over the course of the four day seminar, participants have the chance to train with some of the world’s leading sensei in their chosen Budo. In addition, participants are encouraged to try styles of Budo they may never have experienced. When not training, participants attend a series of lectures on Budo history and modern practice. Because martial arts will become a requirement in middle school physical education this year, many lectures focused on the values of budo education. Other speakers addressed worries about preserving the principals of budo while teaching such short units in a middle school gymnasium.
For the majority of us, however, the lectures were somewhat counterpoint to our real purpose for attending the seminar: the chance to surround ourselves by other people who have dedicated their lives to the practice of Budo. It is sometimes hard to convey to a non-initiate the importance that Judo, Karate, kendo or one of the other martial arts plays in our lives. At this seminar, though, we all understood one-another.

Having grown up in Michigan, where you can tell the season by the type of hunting friends and family are engaging in, I learned to shoot bow and wander around in the woods with my father from a very young age. I therefore couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try out “Kyudo” or the Japanese style of archery. I was a little curious to see how the Japanese sensei would react to a visually impaired man picking up a bow and asking to shoot, but I was with a good group of friends who I knew wouldn’t even blink. To my great pleasure, the Sensei was delighted to have me.

Kyudo is practiced with the Japanese style of longbow or “yumi”. This bow, typically made from bamboo, is unique for its asymmetric shape. Tall—over two-meters when strung—the bow has two-thirds of its length above the grip and one-third of its length below. The longer, gentler curved top helps for distance when shooting while the shorter, more sharply curved bottom provides for greater power. Japanese arrows or “ya” are likewise bamboo and very long to accommodate the wide draw on the bow. Unlike western bows, in which the arrow rests on top of the grip on the inside between the bow and archer, the ya rests on the archer’s thumb on the outside of the yumi. Even drawing a Japanese longbow is different from a western style bow. A special, hard glove or “yugake” is worn to protect the hand. The first two fingers wrap around the bowstring and tuck into the pocket of the thumb. To release, the two fingers spring open as the hand is pulled back.
Ironically, hitting the target is not as important in Japanese archery as in western archery. Some would say, in fact, that hitting the target is a pleasing side effect of beautiful Kyudo. Kyudo is often linked with Japanese Zen and, therefore, is a meditative art. The aesthetic and focused procedure, correctly breathing, raising and drawing the bow is most fundamental to modern interpretations of this art. So why not give a blind man a bow and arrow?

The Kyudo sensei who taught our introductory seminar was excited to teach me the “way of the bow”. So much so, he asked me to please come again on the following day. I had already signed up for an introductory class on Sumo, however, and could not make it back for a second Kyudo lesson. When I spoke to the Kyudo sensei over breakfast our final morning at the seminar, he expressed disappointment that I did not make it for a second Kyudo lesson. He had, in fact, went and bought a beeper to place on the target so I could aim. I was honestly touched by his sincere and genuine interest in making the art more accessible to me.

As I mentioned above, the reason I could not attend a second Kyudo lesson is the fact I was learning some Sumo. As most people know, Sumo is the quintessential Japanese sport. Though we call it “Sumo wrestling” in English, it is much more a game of momentum and balance than is wrestling. Sumo “wrestlers” seek to unbalance their opponent using their great strength and weight. This is achieved by side-stepping an opponent, by dropping one’s center of gravity below their opponent or by using a technique to gain the upper hand. A sumo wrestler wins a match by pushing his opponent outside the “dohyo” (ring) or by forcing an opponent to touch the ground with something other than the souls of his feet.
In our short, introductory Sumo lesson we were taught some of the basic stretches and exercises Sumo wrestlers perform every day. The famous sumo stomp—called “shiko”—involves balancing on one leg while lifting the other leg sideways as high as possible. This position is then held for several seconds before dropping back to the floor and lifting the opposite leg. Shiko, we were told, is generally performed up to three-hundred times before a sumo practice and another two-hundred times after. Incredibly, we watched two sumo wrestlers perform “matawari”, in which the sumo wrestlers basically did the splits until they were completely seated on the ground and then slowly bent forward to lay their torsos and faces flat.
After stretching and a few other basic technique drills, we each got to enter in the ring with a sumo wrestler. Though the matches only lasted about 10 seconds, it was encredible to feel the sheer power behind the professionals. Not to speak overly much of my personal life here… but that sumo wrestler had the biggest pair of tits I have ever felt…. Ever. Absolutely. Encredible. Disturbing.

In my next entry, I will talk more about the Judo and Aikido training I did while at the budo seminar. There were some great people around, especially for Aikido, and I want to dedicate an entire entry to them.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Reviewing the Budo Specialization course; Part II

In this second review of the Budo Specialization Course of the Kokusai Budo Daigaku, I am going to look at the Japanese classes as well as the lifestyle in the dormitory and city of Katsuura. Finally, I will give my overall opinion on the course.

Japanese Classes:
Bekkasei are required to attend Japanese language classes apart from their regular Budo training. These classes are generally held twice a day from Monday to Thursday, the exact period varying depending upon the schedule of Judo and Kendo classes. Topics range from Japanese grammar and conversation to culture and history.

In a course that is fraught with weakness, the Japanese language classes emphasize the shortcomings in the Budo Specialization Course of the International Budo University. The problem lies in a complete lack of organization; the course has neither a syllabus nor a coherent structure. The primary sensei follows no textbook, nor does she set forth objectives. Though both the primary and secondary sensei are wonderfully kind individuals, they fail to maintain any authority in the classroom. Furthermore, classes do not relate constructively, building upon what has already been taught. Instead, each class consists in unrelated material. This is the danger of teaching without a syllabus.
Bekkasei are required to take these Japanese classes, regardless of their relative abilities in the language. For this reason, both students with very high and very low levels are mixed together. Inevitably, someone will get board. When bekkasei with a sufficiently high level of Japanese asked to take regular university classes, they were refused. The reason being: Bekkasei are required to take the “Bekkasei” Japanese class.
It is difficult to adequately “review” the Japanese language course without seeming to directly insult the sensei. Unfortunately, the criticisms I put forth here have been made by years of bekkasei before me. Though people have expressed their dissatisfaction for over a decade, nothing has changed. The sensei themselves are very nice, but perhaps also somewhat lazy as regards the classes. In the end, however, a sensei has a responsibility to teach. Being friendly or kind does not forgive failure in one’s work.

The dormitory:
Bekkasei are offered a place in the Kokusai Koryu Kaikan, or International Exchange Hall. For 15,000yenn (roughly $150-$170) a month, bekkasei live in a relatively spacious room with access to internet (in the downstairs assembly hall) free laundry and a public kitchen. Each room is shared, but includes a bathroom and shower as well as heating and air-conditioning.
There are some small complaints that can be made regarding the Koryu Kaikan. There is no internet access available within dorm rooms. In order to use the free wireless, students must sit in the downstairs assembly hall. This means there is little to no privacy while speaking with one’s friends or family. Though the use of washers and dryers is free, the dryers are more often broken than not. In the winter, this means you must think carefully about when to wash your dogis.
Despite some few, small complaints, however, the Kaikan provides the most affordable way to live in Japan. Much of the Kaikan’s atmosphere depends upon the bekkasei themselves; though a cleaning staff does their best to keep the downstairs kitchen and assembly hall tidy, the bekkasei decide whether or not it remains so throughout the day.

Katsuura is located one-and-a-half hours (by local train) from Chiba City and around two-and-a-half hours from Tokyo. Though small, Katsuura attracts tourists year-round for its beaches and festivals. In the summer, people spend as much of their free time as possible on the beach. In winter, on the other hand, Katsuura becomes a very uninteresting place to be.
Possibly the greatest drawback to living in a town as small as Katsuura is the lack of variety in food. There is but one supermarket, Hayashi, which is fairly expensive. Fruit and vegetables are especially high priced. It is sometimes more affordable to shop at the “morning market” in downtown Katsuura. This is a daily market in which local farmers sell their produce starting around 6:30AM. The selection is highly variable, however, and dependent upon the season.
A more reliable option is to take shopping trips to nearby towns along the sotobu train line. Though these towns are all fairly small, each one offers something unique that the others might not.
Finding part-time work in Katsuura, at least, is fairly easy. During the summer, a number of small stores open up along the beach. There is always a need for young men and women willing to work serving in the restaurants or selling merchandize. In the winter, some of the local hotels and ryokan—inns—employ students from the university to help take care of the busy tourist season. AS a bekkasei, the student visa allows for part time work up to twenty hours a week. Since most employers are somewhat… “informal” in their records, the twenty hour limit is often overlooked. Employers do keep their own, generally accurate, accounts, however, and will pay their employees in full…. Even if the lack of book-keeping seems suspicious.

My Overall Opinions:
I do not recommend the Budo Specialization Course at the International Budo University for most people. The difficulty in finding acceptance in the dojo combined with the low quality of both Budo and Japanese classes can result in a very disappointing experience. This being said, I myself do not regret having done this course. As with all study abroad experiences, this program is “what you make of it.” I took every advantage to travel and train at several dojos in Tokyo as well as becoming involved in activities outside the university. I was also very lucky in having had a life in Japan prior to beginning this course.
In particular, my relationship with Nakajima Sensei from the Kokushikan University opened the doors for several opportunities I would not have otherwise had. The winter swimming in Kamakura as well as a trip to Nagano to a seminar on disability sports were both thanks to the intervention and invitation of Nakajima Sensei. Furthermore, I knew my way around Tokyo well enough to freely travel on the weekend. This made it possible for me to visit both the Kodokan and Newaza Kenkyukai (Newaza Research Association) on Saturdays. If one’s only idea of Japan comes from their experience in this course, then this is not a good exposure to Japanese culture. However, if a person is outgoing and willing to take trips, look for training on their own, and make an effort to learn the language, then something can be gained by attending the Budo Specialization Course.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Reviewing the Budo Specialization Course; Part I

Now that the 2011-2012 Budo Specialization course at the International Budo University has finished, I would like to give my thoughts and opinions in a detailed review for anyone who might have an interest in applying to this—or some similar—martial arts program in Japan. This review will be separated into two entries looking at training and budo classes, in the first, and the Japanese classes as well as living conditions in both the dormitory and the city of Katsuura in the second.

The budo Specialization Course at the Kokusai Budo University is open to people who have an interest in training in either Judo or Kendo. Though the program’s application may give the impression that a black belt is required to attend this program, this is not the case. Five out of the thirteen “bekkasei” or special course students from this past year entered the course without a shodan. Applicants are accepted from a variety of backgrounds from countries around the world. Students have ranged in ages from as young as eighteen to members over the age of forty. No Japanese language skill is required, nor is it necessary to hold a university degree in one’s home country.

Training is divided into two parts: asageiko or asaren (morning training) and bukatsu (normal, club activity.) Morning training is held Monday-Friday beginning around 6:30AM. Bukatsu begins at 4:30PM Monday-Friday and, depending on the schedule, 9:00AM on Saturdays.
It is important to understand that training at a university club—the sort of training one will experience at the Budo University—is very different from the sort of training one might expect when imagining Japan. This is a problem that many, more mature Japanese Sensei are noticing as an increasing number of foreigners come to Japan to practice the martial arts. In Japan, Judo and Kendo are as much “sport” as they are “budo” or “martial art”. AS a result, training at the university level is somewhat cut-throat.

What does this mean for you as a foreigner? Well, if you are weak in your chosen martial art, University students will not train with you because they will not feel they can improve. If you are very strong, however, Japanese students might refuse to train with you for fear of losing against a foreigner. Japan is a famously exclusive country and, when you consider the fact you are training with young men and women, ego plays a large roll. The situation is made yet more complicated due to the fact that not everyone can train simultaneously; there just isn’t enough room in the dojo.

What can you do, then? The best way to deal with this complicated training situation is to show your willingness to work hard. Unfortunately, most Japanese university students will either like you… or not. This has little to do with you, personally, and more to do with how they feel about foreigners in general. By working hard, however, you will win the respect of both the sensei and those Japanese students who are disposed to like a foreigner. Respect, in Japan, is everything. If you can become friends with even one university student, it will help to open the door to a better training environment.

Regarding Judo, there are major differences between the men’s and women’s training. This is a result of the methodology and mentality of the sensei. Regarding the men, morning training is important as a symbolic gesture of your willingness to wake up early. Some people will run while others lift weights. The sensei themselves only show up, bow, and go back home to bed. Though people will tell you asageiko is “very important,” the truth is that very little changed when the bekkasei stopped showing up. No one really seemed to notice. It is much more important to show up regularly to the afternoon Judo bukatsu. For women, however, this is very different. The women’s morning training is very important and extremely difficult. The sensei actually run with the women and drive them to work harder. Bukatsu is equally tough and equally important; the women train hard all the time.

In kendo, on the other hand, morning training is one of the best opportunities to improve your technique. Asageiko consists in “suburi” or basic striking practice. Several kendo bekkasei made it clear that, if you are going to skip one or the other, the afternoon bukatsu is less valuable as far as development goes. In Kendo, as with Judo, it is difficult to find a chance to spar with the stronger players. You can spend 40 minutes waiting in line only to lose in a thirty second round of sparring. Unlike with Judo, however, the Kendo sensei will actually train with the university students and, as I have heard, will pay attention to the bekkasei. This is a golden opportunity for training with sensei who are ranked some of the top in the world.

Budo Classes:
Classes are held from 9:10AM to 4:20PM Monday through Friday in four, 80 minute blocks. Budo classes focus on aspects of one’s chosen martial art. Topics include basic training, referee qualification, “Kata” (form classes) and “theory and practice” classes. Bekkasei also have the opportunity to try the martial art which they are not specializing in. For Kendo students, practicing Judo is relatively easy as it only requires a dogi. For Judo students, however, the basic Kendo class requires a full set of armor and may result a little more difficult. In addition, Iaido—a sword drawing and striking art—is also offered to all bekkasei.

Kata Classes
The majority of the bekkasei classes are “form” classes. Kata is a choreographed pattern of movements or techniques designed to demonstrate some aspect of a martial art. (Though the term “Kata” is also used in non-budo arts such as tea ceremony.) For example, the “Katame-no-Kata” or “grappling Kata” includes fifteen techniques used in newaza.
As a Judo bekkasei, you are required to take six kata classes. These include: Nage-no-kata, Katame-no-kata, Kime-no-Kata, Kishiki-no-Kata, Ju-no-kata and the Goshin Jitsu-no-Kata. Depending on the sensei, these classes are either brilliant and informative or a waist of time. Kashiwazaki Sensei, the current director of the Bekkasei Program and a fantastic sensei, teaches both the Nage and Katame-no-Kata classes while including information on both the history and modern usage of the kata. Other sensei, however, would simply play a video of the kata and maybe correct students while they practiced. To be honest, traveling to Japan to watch Kata video—all of which is freely available on youtube—is something of a disappointment.

The theory and practice classes were, again, highly dependent upon the sensei. Miakoshi Sensei, a seventh degree black belt and a very funny man, showed us variations on several techniques throughout his class. Furthermore, he encouraged us to fight from our weaker side—left, if we were right-handed—because he felt it was important to familiarize ourselves with fighting styles opponents might use. Kashiwazaki Sensei, on the other hand, encouraged us to make an instructional video in order that we might think more deeply on our own Judo. Unfortunately, other sensei just showed videos.

The classes, overall, were somewhat of a disappointment for Judo. Traveling to Japan only to learn Kata, which can be learned on the internet, was not what any of us had expected. The Basic and Theory classes were hit or miss, depending partly on the sensei and partly on the attitude of the students. The best one can do is take what is offered, when it is offered, and make the best of the rest.

In my next post I will continue with a review of the Japanese classes, the life in Katsuura and my final opinions on the Bekkasei course.

Thursday, April 5, 2012


March 17th marked the official end of the 2011/2012 Budo Specialization Course at the International Budo University. This day coincided with the University’s regular graduation ceremony, in which the bekkasei (us scholarship students) were also recognized.

Three weeks prior to graduation, I received a summons from the university’s international office. I have to admit that I was a little nervous. Perhaps this has something to do with the fact the Japanese so frequently sound darkly grim over the phone or perhaps it is a result of my fear that all persons in authority can read my mind. As it turned out, however, the summons was simply to inform me that I had been selected by Kashiwazaki Sensei as the Bekkasei 代表 [daihyou] or representative. This meant that I would be the one student who, at graduation, walked forward to symbolically accept the diplomas for our entire group. This is actually a very clever way of speeding up what could be a very long and tedious process. One member is selected from each of the faculties as representative students. At graduation, while the entire faculty will stand up when their group is recognized, only one member walks forward to receive a diploma. Afterwards, in smaller ceremonies, each individual student receives his or her diploma.

I was also informed that on March 16th there would be a rehearsal graduation ceremony. The secretaries of the international office stressed the importance that I attend this rehearsal. I had no clue what to expect. Would I have to say anything? Make a speech? Demonstrate a Judo kata in front of four thousand people to prove my worthiness to graduate?
Nothing of the sort. In fact, on March 16th I was the only person to show up at the rehearsal other than the men who were testing the microphones and arranging the chairs. The “rehearsal” was simply to insure that I could precisely walk the five meters from my chair to the stage, bow three times, climb the three steps to the stage, bow again, receive my diploma, bow again, turn, descend the steps, turn again, bow three more times but now in reverse and walk the five meters back to my chair. (Eight bows, in case you weren’t counting)
Sound complicated? No, I didn’t think so either. But nothing, *nothing*, is simple in a Japanese ceremony. The University’s president as well as the Master of Ceremony was insistent that my movements be exact to the centimeter. They were so insistent, in fact, that they never thought to ask me my opinion on what would be the best way to remember the distance from my chair to the stage. After all, what would I know about walking around alone… it’s not like I walk around alone every day.
IN typical Japanese fashion, a large amount of tape was applied to the floor to make a yellow line which I might follow with my cane. Never mind that five-meters are about eight normal steps… we were going to tape the floor. “What about the carpet? Could he just follow the edge of the carpet?” “Yes, but how would he know where to stop and turn?“ In the end, it was decided that I would follow the edge of the carpet with my cane and a small pile of tape would be placed at the point in front of the stage where I should stop. As an added failsafe, the person seated behind me in line would be told to whisper my name if it looked likely that I careen off course and, heaven forbid, walk a step past my chair on the return.
During the majority of this discussion, I sat in my assigned seat, board and wondering when someone would ask my opinion. After I had stood up, sat down, walked five meters back and forth and climbed the steps any number of times, someone thought to question the safety of the steps… “Should he just stay on the floor?” No, I assured them, I could climb the stairs. “Oh, by the way, bow left, middle, right before you climb the stairs and right, middle, left when you’ve come down. And lower your head when you bow. And tomorrow, before graduation, please come again so we can practice one more time…”

Saturday the Seventeenth dawned rainy and cold, but the graduation ceremony went flawlessly. While I considered messing things up on purpose—falling down the stairs, walking past my chair and out of the room—I have felt Kashiwazaki Sensei’s shime-waza (choking techniques). I have no doubt that, had I messed up, he would have applied the Japanese method of “teaching by abuse”. After the ceremony we all moved into the kendo dojo where tables had been set up with some drinks and snacks. Kashiwazaki Sensei, with his characteristic sense of humor, grabbed me and said, “I was really worried you’d mess things up.” Wait… wasn’t it Kashiwazaki Sensei who chose me for this?

After mingling and saying farewell to many of the Japanese students who were also graduating, the fifteen of us Bekkasei returned to our dormitory where Kashiwazaki himself passed out our diplomas in a more intimate ceremony. We were each asked to make a small speech in Japanese and, with that… we were graduated! Done and done.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Catching UP

Over the course of the last two months, I have been a nauty nauty boy and not blogging like I should. This was primarily due to a couple trips I took as well as a lack of time to properly sort through my photos. While I always carry a camera with me, it is sometimes necessary to get a sighted friend or family member’s aid when selecting what photos to upload to the blog.

The year long course at the International Budo University has officially ended and I now find myself back Stateside. This is not to say that the Tales of the Iron Goat have ended, however. New places mean new dojos—or, in some cases, returning to old dojos—and I look forward to beginning a more serious study of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu as well as continuing with Daitoryu and Aikido.
Before I begin with tales from my training in Michigan, however, there are many tales from Japan left to be told. In the coming week or two I will be posting about:

-Graduation from the Kokusai Budo Daigaku
-My thoughts and opinions of the year long, budo specialization course
-more details on how to find the newaza Kenkyukai (newaza research association) in Tokyo
-the 24th annual International Budo Seminar held in Katsuura
-some farewell-training sessions at both the Kodokan and IBU
-and some cultural and historical trips we took over the last couple months.

I apologize most sincerely for the extended absence over the last two months, but please join me now as I continue my studies of budo in a few of its many forms.