Kobe Kendo not Beef

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October 27th 2014
Published: October 29th 2014
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I needed to get my kote (kendo arm protectors) repaired before Sunday. I got some help at the tourist information and made my way for Tozando shop. After some begging they agreed on repairing the kote within one day.

The plan for the 26th was to train for two hours in Osaka, visit the aquarium, have a harbor cruise and then have dinner. My guides were Maeno-sensei and Okamoto-sensei. Maeno-sensei picked us up at the Shin-Osaka Hotel (there is also a Hotel Shin-Osaka) and told us straight away he has changed his mind. He wanted me to concentrate on kendo, so we would train the whole day, visit an Onsen and then go on a Cruise. He didn’t tell us where we were going so I expected 6 hours of brutal Kakarigeiko. I was preparing myself mentally for what was going to come, but I wasn’t ready for the reality.

We arrived at a middle school in Kobe, where Okamoto was waiting for us and the training just started. There I saw a side of Kendo practice we tend to neglect outside of Japan. In our minds we think of Japan as a place where everybody is training ruthlessly. But at this school the training is mend to be for everybody. It is more like a family event on Sunday, than what I saw in 2009 at Keio or in Ibaraki. The mood is completely different. Even my girlfriend said that the training in Ibaraki felt tougher than that at Kobe. The level is still high, they have good teachers and everyone is training wholeheartedly, but it is more relaxed.

After the lunch I got some Kata instructions, which sparked a discussion between Maeno-sensei and Okamoto-senseis husband. Obviously after sixth Dan you do it a little bit different 😉. So what Maeno-sensei was trying to teach me, shouldn’t be taught to my level of understanding.

Then we had some time for free keiko and I lined up and did Keiko with everyone who was there. The last keiko I did, was with a visitor from Tokyo and I lost the ippon shobu to Kaeshi-Do. Everybody had some kind words for me and I learned a great deal there.

Second part will deal with the more relaxed after-keiko activities.

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