Tsukuba University Kendo club visit.

Yesterday I went to Tsukuba University to visit the Kendo Club.
The kendo club is (mostly) made up of members of the University's Physical Education department.
There is also a Kendo club for other students to join, where the practice is a little bit less intense I imagine!

Tsukuba University won last years All Japan Student Championship in both Team and Individual for males. (im not sure about the ladies?)

I was lucky enough to be asked to go to their final keiko for the graduating 4th years, there was a "kachinuki" taikai with the 4th years versus the rest of the kendo club. Kachinuki means winner stays on, the 4th years had around 10 members, and the rest about 30. The level of Kendo was really, really, really good! Some of the fights were over in seconds, others won by fantastic Ippon in Encho. The most impressive was of course the mens team and dojo captain, current all Japan Student Champion, Murakami-san, he was superb.

He took on about 10 students and demolished them. He is not a small fella! Tall, very big build, he (like all of the students there really) had fantastic technical ability, really great waza, super quick footwork and body movement. But the best thing was how calm he was. He made everything look so so easy, but the ippon that he was scoring were just amazing. To my eyes he was scoring alot of ippon when the opponent seemed to switch off for a second. He was also a master of scoring Kote from the restart!

You can see him on the end there. NOT a small guy!

The day stared at 1 and not 12, which was when I had arrived. I thought there would just be regular keiko, so I had prepared with good nights sleep, a good breakfast before the drive up, and a lot of water!

BUT, the event didnt kick off untill 1! And didnt finish untill after 4! So in the end, I got to watch some awesome kendo, and do 1 keiko with a sensei, and kirikaeshi with another!! This was due to time as well as having to pay my respects to the Sensei first. Keiko was ok, I wasn't too nervous and I did ok, the Sensei was extremely strong, and I just gave it everything. The kirikaeshi I did with the other Sensei was great, fully crossed the dojo twice!

While waiting I got to see what kind of practice the students did, one student Yamashita did kakrigeiko for more Tha 5 minutes with Nabeyama Sensei, I get the feeling that is just normal for them!

The most amazing thing about the practice was the floor, it's perfect for kendo, good surface for ashisabaki, very fast though quite slippy, and the floor is sprung. The floor where I did my sandan was also sprung but this was different. I don't know it it was becaue it was smaller, but while standing in line you could feel every step and fumikomi stamp! It was like being on the edge of a trampoline while someone was jumping on it! A very strange feeling!

Next time ill make a dash for Nabeyama Sensei and then get stuck into some students. And get bashed!

ll hopefully return next week for what is the final practice of this school year. Then they break until march or possibly April. It will probably be a tough keiko session :)

I met some nice people, specifically Morita San, who contacted me on behalf of Nabeyama Sensei, Oaichi-San who looked after me on the day, and Kang-San who practiced with Yanai Sensei in New York when he lived there! (its a small world for non Japanese kendoka!)

I'm looking forward to going back!