Tsukuba visit 2! Slippery!

February 18th 2012.

I woke at 7, aiming to leave at 8 and arrive and 9:30. I didn't realize that the snow had fallen again in the night.

I scoffed breakfast and left at 7:30, I didn't arrive until nearly 11 am...

The snow was pretty heavy to be fair, about 6-10 cm. Beautiful to look at in the early morning! The roads were still icy at that stage of the morning bur I thought it would be ok once I hit the more well travelled routes.

I saw my first crash inside a minute. Out in the massive STRAIGHT dual carrage way that essentially is this town, a car had managed to swerve into a lamppost. How, I have not idea.

It got worse. Most people were driving sensibly, ie slowly. But some people were still taking off like lunatics at traffic lights, wheels spinning on the ice fighting for grip. The next incident was on the bridge leading to Itako, two kei-trucks had a stopped on each lane of the bridge, one has collided with the barrier, skidding at the slight bend in the bridge. It ment traffic had to snake around them to cross the icy slope. On the opposite side, 4 large trucks had simply stopped at the foot of the bridge, assumedly so as not to risk crashing. This caused a tail back for a good few kilometers... and at that point I realized I wouldn't be able to turn back.

I continued on my way and saw at least 5 other serious accidents. I really do not understand how they crashed on such straight roads. Especially this truck, surely driving a petrol tanker requires an enormous amount of skill and qualification (my dad studied for a few weeks to get his hazChem license, despite having years of experience droning articulated lorries).

How he crashed like this, I don't know...

Anyway, it took me nearly two hours to get where it took me only 30 mins the last time! Once clear of Itako things started to get better, the snow was little more than sludge here and handnt fallen nearly as thick, the further north i went the less snow and more sunshine. I called Nabeyama Sensei at 9:30 to explain the situation and he said not to worry.

I arrived at 10:40 roughly 3 hours (last time was half that). There was a shiai in progress as I arrived, and Nabeyama Sensei had me change and go inside the dojo to watch. I sat near the other students, just slightly behind them. The kendo was very good, teams made up d students and what I assume were old boys who still lived in the area, members from Japan Rail, Fuji Xerox were easily identifiable. As well as one member of the Japanese kendo team. Not a Teramoto or Takanabe, but a younger kenshi. Kawai was his name, I guess in his 20's going by his kendo and physical build. He was strong, not alot stronger than some of the university students though. Perhaps he is a younger member, a promising talent, winner of a few taikai at hs and university level who gets to attend the team practices? I don't really know!

The highlight for me was getting to watch Murakami again, he scored a kote so fast that I couldn't get it on film! I pressed plaint hajime, and missed it. Amazing!

After the taikai there was keiko. I dashed to get my men on and made it to be third in line for Sakai Sensei, the keiko was good, I was trying out some new "moves" and Sensei managed to absolutely make shite if each and everyone of them. Amazingly strong!

I followed that with keiko with Nabeyama Sensei, this keiko was not as good as i was trying to hard to impress. He destroyed me, I did uchikomi at the end and kirikaeshi to wrap it up.

I then qued for the oldster of the guest Sensei, Ishii Sensei. He was quite old, but amazing. He battered me. I tried to give it everything, diving in kakarigeiko style rather than trying to fight. Everytime I cut him and went was he would hit me from behind, either the head, back or arse, I was too slow!
He really pushed me hard, my chest was biting after that keiko!

It was just coming to time over and I spotted Murakami, standing back not practicing. I made a beeline for him but the drum went as I got there. I asked him for kirikaeshi anyway. It was the last practice foe the kendo club, so there is a distinct possibility that I was the last person to hit his men while he was a university student!!

Keiko finishes with suburi, 50 men, and 50 hiya-suburi while wearing your bogu. I was banjaxed after wards!

Sakai Sensei didn't give any advice, just thanks, Nabeyama Sensei was busy so I went to Ishii Sensei.

I got most of what he said, amazingly!
He said that I shouldnt rest in keiko, especially not in a keiko like that, where you have have too line up. He said to attack attack attack, do as many keiko as possible, exhaust yourself, and esspecially in the last keiko give everything. He pointed specifically to my cutting after turning, saying that it was too slow (something echoing what Akiyama Sensei said to me during the week)

I wont make excuses, I'll just say that the floor there is extremely slippy, I found it hard to push off without loosing the left foot, and turning lead to sliding backwards half the time. It showed up my bad footwork, and balance.
Akiyama Sensei said I wasn't turning fast enough on wednesday. So I know what I have to work on this week!

Overall it was a great visit. I learned alot, more motivation and inspiration to take with me too. I look forward to going back again in the new school year!

The drive home was completely uneventful, the weather was stunning infact. I had the window open most of the way and Led Zeppelin blaring.

I stopped at the Tsukuba space centre for a photo on the way. Meh. I've seen bigger.