Today we went to visit another dojo.
It's quite funny how we found it:my girlfriend was looking for a spare part for her mum's sewing machinein a little shop down the road from our house. While the owner, an oldman, was out the back of the shop looking for the part she happened tosee the kanji for 'ken' on a letter partially hidden in a stack of paper. When the owner came back she politely asked him if he practised kendo, and he said he used to, and that the letter was from the kendofederation. She asked him if there was a dojo around here (noda city)and he said there was one just a few minutes from here.
This was strange because we had been looking for a close dojo (in this area) for the last few weeks in phone books and internet listings without finding any. He gave us directions and said they would be training tonight and that we should go and look.
It's actually quite an amazing dojo, very old, and quite small, withvery thin wooden walls (it's seriously cold right now). There was an old sensei teaching a children's class, I'm guessing ages 5 to 12 or so.
Right from the start I could tell that this was a good dojo. The children were extremely well behaved, and when they did kendo I was extremely impressed.... mostly because they were all much much better than me.
I think in Japan the children are taught to have fighting spirit. We watched, and I could see the sensei correct all the mistakes while they were training, he did this without saying much (which is a relief for me because I can't speak Japanese). They were just go go go. After a while a few older men started turning up. Some of them talked to us, and we learnt the following.
The dojo used to be owned by a company,and as they didn't want to tear it down they gifted it to the city, and now kendo (and judo) can practice there. We were also told that people from far away come and practice, I'm not sure I understood correctly, but they said that the teachers from all the dojos in the area come to practice here. And they didn't have any adult classes, they just practice with each other. Once they started to practice (no warmup, just stretching, straight into bogu, in the freezing cold).
I was in awe. And I was scared. There was this one guy who had 'Tokyo' above his name on his tare who had kiai that made me feel fear from across the dojo (and he was huge). And there was a young 15 year old who was easily as fast as Jeffrey who just kept attacking without stopping. They did stamping so hard I was sure the dojo was shaking. All ~20 them.
And they said 'sure you can come and train with us'...... haha. I tried to tell them that I didn't want to bother anyone, and that I was a beginner, but they said they don't mind. I really hope they weren't just being polite. But my girlfriend said they were all smiling and really friendly, which is a good sign (so she says). So, on Tuesday (they practice 3 times a week) I'm going back there. I guess now I have to put everything I have into it, show how much I want to learn. Hmmm, I hope I can do that. Well, I'll let you know how it goes.