THE JAPAN SUMMER CAMP 1980
There were approximately two hundred and eighty students who started the 1980 summer camp who were taught by Japan’s top instructors including famous people like Hiroshi Nanri, the chief instructor of this years camp, plus Keiji Sanpei, Sandan and second in last year’s “Open World Tournament”, also “baby face” Makoto Nakamura, the present World Champion. We were very honored to have these top Japanese instructors. Everybody was also looking forward to being taught by Mas Oyama.
The duration of the course was eleven days, and not the previous two weeks (two, one week courses) as last year. This had to be cancelled at the last mimute due to Kancho leaving Japan. But this did not stop many people from not attending. The foreigners among the 280 Japanese students were;
Michael Soderkvist (Sweden)
Charles Ecsterling (Holland)
Kin Pangelinan (Guam)
Jagat Gouchan (Nepal)
Terry Simmons (England)
Udaya Gouchan (Nepal)
David Henwood (England)
The summer camp started on July the 26th. The hottest time of the year in Japan. With temperatures rising to a maximum 36 degrees C. The weather on that day was quite cool.
On Saturday the 26, we assembled outside the Honbu Dojo in the park. Within thirty minutes the little park was completely overfull with nervous students.
Just standing there I could feel something was not quite right, I felt a strange quiteness which is very unusual when 280 people are together in one place. The reason being that most people train at ‘different times, or do not recognize each other without Karate suits on. I think everybody was a little bit apprehensive of the summer camp. After our names had been called out we went to the waiting convoy of coaches after boarding, we soon departed at approximately 10 o’clock.
The convoy of buses and excited Karate-ka started the 200 kilometre journey to our destination, Shizuoka-ken. The trip went unhindered with only two stops on the way to relieve the water works.
There was the feeling all the time that we did not really leave Tokyo. The houses and factories never really stopped until we reached the sea. Then even in the country we were so surprised to see the roads so smooth and in immaculate condition. When we were
travelling along the coastline it was a nice feeling to know we had left the concrete jungle and the industrial heart of the world behind. It was truly beautiful. The sun was dancing on the waves as they crashed down onto the smooth yellow sand.
We arrived at Shizuoka-ken which was a magnificent site with a lake in the back garden, which was totally surrounded by tall green trees. The gold fish in the lake were as big as Jaws. It was like suddenly walking into a dreamland.(Alice in Wonderland part two).
The first thing to do when we arrived was to unload from the bus the hundreds of bags, including the training weights, wood, bricks, and the punch bag. Afterwards everybody went inside to arrange the beds and who was going to sleep where.
In a few minutes we were outside in our gi’s ready for the first training session, walking along the road for three kilometers, there was no noise from the students everybody was very excited to eventually do some training. This year the same as last year we had a guide, translater Mr. K. Morita who was invaluable to us.
As I felt the sand between my toes and looking at the ocean I felt very good inside.
On the beach we started Kihon and strengthening exercises which we also performed in the sea, with the waves crashing down on us we had little chance to breath however we enjoy it especially when one big wave washed us all away in different directions.
After training everybody was more relaxed and could not stop talking to each other. In the evening dinner was served much to everybodys delight. We were a little disappointed because Mas Oyama has not arrived.
MICHAEL SODERKVIST, Nidan from Sweden. Michael is 25 years old, and has been studying Kyokushinkai for eight years. He enjoyed the summer camp very much. Michael is a very good technician of many kicks. He looked after the group with great attention. He will soon leave for home after being in Japan 11 months in this period he has achieved the following;
Shodan, Nidan, Branch Chief.
CHARLES ESTERLING. Charlie a Shodan from Holland came to Japan just for the summer camp and to meet Mas Oyama. He was very happy when Kancho gave him a big hug and said welcome to Tokyo. He loved all of the training, and will go back to Holland with a lot more ideas and ways to make his club in Holland a better one.
KIN PANGELINAN. Kin is from the island of Guam. He was graded Shodan by SANPEI and NAKAMURA’ This was Kins second summer camp. His personality and bad jokes made everybody laughed. He has fighting spirit that all the Japanese admired, and always he had the loudest “OUS” which could be heard back in Tokyo. And would-wake everybody up at 4.30 in the morning. He trained very hard and never gave up. See’ you next time.
JAGAT GOUCHAN is a 1st Kyu brown belt in Honbu. When he was in Nepal he was a Mathathon runner. Runner in the Himalayas. Jajat is 23 years old. Not only can Jagat run very fast but his legs are very flexible, which the Japanese admire, this enables to do beautiful kicks, and also not lacking in power. Jagat is training at Honbu and will continue to do so until he has the coverted black belt.
TERRY SIMMONS, an Englishman from London, Terry came to Japan last October, 1979 to study Kyokushinkai in Honbu, and has been graded to Brown Belt. He attended the course with great enthusiasm and trained like a madman. He showed keen interest in the Sumo and singing at the sayonara party. Terry really excelled himself at the running and sprinting, he was also glad for the opportunity to meet the instructors outside the Dojo. Terry will also continue to stay in Japan.
UDAYA GOUCHAN. A tall well built boy from Nepal and attends Honbus special class for big students. Udaya is also a long distance runner like Jagat. He came to Honbu four months ago. Udaya loved the summer camp very much, being glad to get out of the polluted air of the big city.
DAVID HENWOOD. 21 years old, from England, I was very grateful to be able to attend the summer camp. I could understand the Japanese spirit a lot more. The team work and the comradeship is what I really enjoyed. Plus being a country boy it was very good to see my friend the ocean again.
Bedtime was at ten thirty sharp. We were awakened at flaming 4.30 am in the early morning, and commenced training with a 6 kilometer run, which was extended everyday until we did 18 kilometers. Plus 30 sprints up a hill, that was a real killer. Each day we would see more and more people drop out from the running and go onto the injured list suffering from blisters, cramps, but never a lack of fighting spirit.
Jagat and Udaya with their history of running in the Himalayas in Nepal, never seized to amaze the Japanese with their running and sprinting capabilities, this also won Jagat 5 melons at the sayonara party.
The team of foreigners from all over the world was led by Michael Soderkvist from Sweden who taught with great care showing us many new techniques, and always pushed us when we were tired.
When Mas Oyama arrived at the camp there was an air of emergency. Especially from the Uchi Deshi. Always making sure everything was perfect for ‘the master of Karate. Whenever he spoke there was absolute silence from the students. Mas Oyama often gave a speech at night on Kyokushinkai and other styles of Martial Arts. Although we could not understand all of his words we could understand the lesson-he was teaching us. By using his hole body, talking with his heart we knew what he was saying. At times it was very frustrating, because we wanted to understand everything he said.
Mas Oyama was glad to see Kin again, who came last year, this time Kin came with the strong intention of taking Shodan. Last year he took I Kyu and this year Black Belt. With his fine spirit and attitude never to be defeated took the test and passed, he was the only foreigner, of this years camp to take a test.
Another foreigner who travelled a long way just for the summer camp and to train under Mas Oyama was Charles Esterling, a Shodan from Holland. Charlie was surprised at the lack of knowledge of Kata we had. For in Honbu we only learn Kata a few weeks before a test. But Charlie really enjoyed the Japanese fighting spirit and the food.
The food was delicious, there was always too much. The games on the beach were a favorite with everybody, we did really well this year, beating one Japanese team in the Sumo Tournament and being knocked in the next round by only one point. The relay race on the beach was also good fun but we never won. The games really brought everybody a little bit closer together.
Our spare time was from 7 o’clock to 10 o’clock when we had to be in bed. Much of this time was spent outside by the Lake talking, and exchanging ideas about Karate. It was also a good time to get to know each other.
We will never forget this chapter in our lives, for the Japanese were very kind to us, especially Mr. K. Morita our translater who helped to communicate, his head must still be confused.
The one thing everybody enjoyed, was each other.
FIRST TRAINING OF THE YEAR CEREMONY, JAPAN, 1978
The first training of the year is one of the most important yearly dojo ceremonies, and in keeping with general Japanese custom.
The ceremony of Kagami Biraki is performed in most homes, factories and companies throughout Japan on the 11th of January every year. It is the ceremony in which the Kagami Mochi, a particular rice cake made on December 28th as an offering to Buddha, is cut and eaten with Oshiruko – sweet red beans. With the completion of this ceremony, work and training begins in earnest for the new year.
In the dojo, a short training is followed by the presentation of prizes to Tokyo Honbu dojo’s top students and then the Kagami Biraki ceremony.
Every year, the ceremony begins at 5:30 am. Those students able to attend arrive around 5:00 am when it is still very dark and cold. However, because of the size of Tokyo, and that the local trains do not start running until 5:00 am, most of Tokyo Honbu dojo’s students are unable to attend. Even so, the dojo was packed with over 100 students when the drum call began at 5:30 am.
During the training those members of the staff who do not train Karate begin the cooking of the mochi, rice cake, and other foods; the sweet beans having been prepared the day before. As the large number of people make it impossible for everyone to have a piece of the original Kagami Mochi, ordinary mochi is substituted and hundreds of pieces are prepared.
Originally the ceremony of the offering and then eating of the Kagami Mochi was observed only by ladies on the 20th of January. The cake is therefore round in the shape of a mirror – the representation of a lady – and called Kagami; mirror. However, during the Samurai era of Japan, this ceremony was taken over by the Samurai who changed the day to the 11th – the character 11 being easily condensed to the character for Bu, as in Bushi (Samurai). The cake was offered in temples and Shrines before being eaten for the promotion of Budo, for prosperity, and to receive the blessing of the Gods. At this time, red beans were added as the Samurai particularly hated them due to their connotations with blood and death, and it thus enabled them to meditate on and come to terms with their ultimate destiny; death by the sword. Today red beans are kept because they are reckoned to be the most delicious combination with Omochi.
The dojo training, taken by Kancho Oyama, follows that of a normal training. It finishes one hour later, just as the day breaks and light begins to stream in through the windows.
The dojo is then cleaned by the students and prepared for the ceremony. After everything is ready, Kancho Oyama gives a short speech and the prizes are presented. Each winner is presented with a certificate and either a trophy or a shield. Three prizes for Effort are awarded to both the men’s and Ladies’ groups. Two prizes to the Senior Men and one prize for junior boys. Prizes are also awarded for Fighting Spirit, Special Technique and for a good contribution to the Kyokushinkaikan. This year’s Fighting Spirit Prize was awarded to a student who had attended 326 days of training in 1977, and the Contribution Prize went to the Barber who has kindly cut the Uchi-Deshi’s hair, unpaid, for over 6 years. The Special Kyokushin Prize for an outstanding contribution to the Kyokushinkaikan was not awarded this year.
On the completion of the presentation mochi and Oshiruko to each person as quickly as possible, and soon the dojo becomes a busy hum of people enjoying a rather special breakfast.
Throughout the eating, various students come forward to sing, and this year the congregation was lucky to be entertained by a student with some talent on the guitar. Unfortunately, time closes the ceremony at around 8:00 am as students must attend school and workers must make it to their companies. When the 11th falls on a Sunday, the ceremony continues late into the morning, by which time all students present will have sung a song, drunk plenty of warm Sake, and eaten themselves full of mochi and oshiruko.
1978 JAPANESE WINTER TRAINING SCHOOL
160 brave students assembled in front of Tokyo Honbu at 7:00 am on the morning of January 4th. They stood outside in the cold and tasted Winter in their toes before even leaving for the Mountain Site of Mitsumine Shrine in Saitama Prefecture. Tokyo had experienced an unusually heavy fall of snow on the 3rd and it had turned to ice on the 4th, bringing down the temperatures to a shivery low and causing all to doubt the sanity of training in the mountains. Four of Tokyo Honbu’s foreign students were present, and one student of Shihan Lowe’s, Thrina Cabal, who so enjoyed her previous three weeks stay, that she had flown in from balmy Hawaii to brave the Japanese Winter. The other students hailed from Venezuela, Pakistan, England and Singapore, and two of them saw and felt snow for the first time in their lives that morning.
The four bus loads of students left at 8:00 am and travelled through the snow dotted countryside towards the mountains where a beautiful view of the snow covered Mt. Fuji could be seen from the bus window.
The group arrived at the top of the 1,300 meter mountain a weary four hours later, and alighted to carry their bags a short way up to the Shrine accommodation. Following those who had been through it all before, the students were hustled along into their rooms where they headed straight for the heaters and warm tea awaiting them.
The first training began at 2:00 pm. Donning clamy cold Karate-gi, and struggling to pull training shoes over their already numbed feet, the students hurried out to the assembly point. After, being assigned to groups and given a short pep talk, the training began. Training entailed a short run to a flat area on the mountain which served as the training site. There, exposed to the cold, students split into their groups and proceeded through a regular training session under the direction of their Sempai.
Although there was no deep snow on the mountain this year, and the weather was sui*singly somewhat warmer than usual, little patches of snow were to be found and it was enough to freeze solid the feet of those lead to train in it. Each group followed all, or parts, of a regular training session, and a long and frozen two hours later, the groups jogged the short distance back to the warmth of the shrine.
The evening meal followed a few hours later. The atmosphere was warm and noisy except for the beginning and ending ceremony when the Sempai and Kancho enter and leave. The food was quite delicious, although in rather typical Japanese style, it was a little cold before one could tuck in. The food at Winter Camp is always more delicious and substantial than that of Summer Camp, much to the relief of the students.
After the meal, there followed a period of free time before being gathered together to hear Kancho’s address. The address started at 9:00 pm and would have continued for sometime had not a large number of the students already doozed off, simply too tired and weary to concentrate anymore. The meeting was closed, the futons were spread out in the usual mattress to mattress, economy style, and everyone gladly hit the sack.
Next morning came all too soon, even though the rising hour was later than in previous years. Apparently the Shrine Priests complained of the usual early rising, so this year’s students rose at a still chilly 6:00 am, and had 30 minutes to complete their preparations and assemble in the courtyard. The students, most moving in a mixture of sleepy bewilderness and stiff, excited anticipation, shivered their ways to the assembly point and at 6:30 am were ushered into the Shrine. In a short space of time, only rows upon rows of training shoes on the steps of the shrine were all to show of the noisy before.
Lining up in rows according to rank, with Kancho in the center, every?
– one sat SEIZA and the ceremony began with the beating of the Kyokushin drum roll one beat for each syllable it rolled…..ha ji ma ri (we .begin) three times, tsu yo ku na re yo (we will be strong) twice, and finished with one long drum roll. The Head Priest immediately began the blessing by chanting uninterruptedly except for what seemed like a hap hazard, although I’m sure really well integrated, bang on the drum.
Trying to fulfill one’s duty to remain serene and dignified, each wriggled in their SEIZA position trying to bring some life back to their numbed, deadened feet, while the ceremony droned on. Then Kancho rose and moved forward to offer a leaf sprig. The Priest waved his stick of leaves and paper in big circular movements over Kancho’s head, and when Kancho returned to his position, all bowed and the ceremony ended with the Kyokushin drum roll 0 wa ri (we finish) 3 times, Ha ya ku ka e re yo (hurry up and return home) twice and the final roll.
Staggering, dragging to their feet, the students slowly, painfully filed out of the unheated Shrine into the cold morning to each receive a sip of warm, blessed, sake from the Priests.
Almost immediately. the training began by running again to the training site by the statue of Yamato Takeru no Mikoto, an old Japanese God who was commanded to settle various wars around Japan, and to whom many romantic stories are attached. Here followed a normal training session, before the run back to the accommodation and breakfast.
Everyone was ravishingly hungry and a steady line a 2nd helpers for,rice and soup formed. After breakfast and bathing, it was free time until lunch. Students took this time to patch up injuries and sore legs, so the smell of menthol penetrated the air and filled the eyes and noses of the suffering students.
A few of the more adventurous students ventured out to explore the location and view the splendid Mountain surroundings, however, most preferred to stay indoors in the warmth and comfort.
However it was not all rest for some, as 9:00 am was the scheduled time for the correspondence students’ promotion test. Officiating were the head Sempai, Mr. Nandi and Mr. Hiroshige. 7 students were put through Kihon, kata, exercises and Kumite, and all performed rather well.
After lunch, the students prepared for the 20 kilometer run; 10 kilos down
the winding mountain road, and 10 back up again. Students were informed to “do their best”, and at 2:00 pm they set off. The more serious students set out in grim determination, but a few merely loafed along, aided with bottles of drink and junk food. Before very long, this small group of slackers had dropped out, unaware that the only ones they had cheated were themselves, a fact they may one day realize.
Winter training runs on stamina and spirit, and thus develops stamina, spirit and confidence in oneself. The point of Winter training is to come to know oneself, one’s own limitation, and if one cannot keep up with the training then one has to faint in the effort!
Regardless of the galant efforts, only a few made it completely down and back up again. The 20 kilometer run seemed much longer and harder by the steepness of the mountain, and the cold conditions. When it became dark, a car was sent to collect the brave strugglers, and so the sore, battered group retired to the accommodation to patch up their aching legs, skinned toes and sore ankles. It was a weary and hobbly lot that turned up for the evening meal and later presented themselves at the Sayonara Party. Following the traditional form, each student performed a number and so contributed to the entertainment. However, even though it was enjoyable, most were happy to be released to fall into their futons and sleep.
Rising again at 6:00 am, struggling with tired reluctance and stiff bodies, the group again assembled in the Shrine courtyard and so began the last day of camp. After the Shrine ceremony, the students were left to the mercy of the photographers who had them running back and forth, standing in the cold in awkward poses and repeating the procedure numerous times to get it right, and because the cap was still on the camera lens. After this tiresome training, the group filed back to the accommodation and breakfast.
When breakfast was over, a short period of free time followed and then cleaning and preparations to leave. At about 11:00 am the group assembled in front of the Shrine where Kancho thanked the Priests. Bowing deeply, the group, carrying their . bags, followed Kancho down the back side of the mountain to the waterfall, the last and perhaps most exotic requirement of each Winter Camp.
The steep narrow dirt track down
the mountain necessitated a single file and a sure foot, so by the time the waterfall was reached all were warm from the brisk exercise.
Hiding behind trees, bushes and rocks, the students changed into their gi and congregated around the bonfire that had been lit. There they ate their rice balls, and prepared to face the cold water. After a rest, the group stood, clapped their hands and bowed to the little wooden shrine on the hill side, and lined up for training. Dotting the rocks and bridge, the students did the basic punches and kicks, and then headed for the water. The men stripped to the waist and all, including the ladies group, had bare feet. They climbed up the slippery, icy rocks and stood in turn under the water. There each kiai-ed and punched to a minimum of 10 punches. Back at the Bonfire, those of Brown belt and above were treated to a cup of warm sake (Wine) before changing.
When each had had a turn and changed, the group proceeded the rest of the way down the mountain to the restaurant at the bottom, and the waiting buses. At the restaurant everyone was free to eat, drink and buy souvenirs, except the black belt students who changed into Karate-gi and were led down to the passing river where they posed, knee deep in freezing mountain water, for the cameras.
Eventually, the students climbed into their waiting buSes and headed home, reaching Tokyo at 6:00 pm that same night.
The foreign students commented mostly that “it was cold!”. However, each seemed pleased that they had made it in the marathon run and had survived the 3 days of rough and rigour in a strange surrounding, amongst people they could only just barely communicate with Thrina, from Hawaii, who suffered deep bruising in the first day’s kumite and later from very sore legs, could only sigh, “I made it, I did it, I didn’t cheat in anyway!”. Thrina was so popular with the others, who admired her for her galant efforts, strong Kiai and spirit, that they presented her with a placard signed beach student urging her to keep up her spint always.
And how about next year’s camp???…Well,..”Let’s wait and see!
FIRST WEEK-LONG NATIONAL TRAINING CAMP HUGE SUCCESS – 1986
Kyokushin Australia held its first ever week-long National Training Camp in January of this year at the NSW State Sports and Recreation Centre at Narrabeen Lakes, Sydney.
The camp (for those unlucky ones that missed out) was a booming success.
Those who attended were fortunate enough to have some first rate instruction by Sihan Goda 6th Dan and Sensei Sato 4th Dan. They were especially flown in from Japan just to instruct at our National Camp. The experience and knowledge that was passed on at the camp was invaluable.
The schedule for the camp was quite full, starting off with early morning runs (5.45 am) that became longer and longer as the days flew past, followed by a basic training session before breakfast.
From 10 am black and brown belts were instructed in advanced Kata by Shihan Goda, then from 11 am to 12 pm all other grades at the camp joined in for an hour before lunch. This training session was generally on Kata, to improve Kata form and knowledge. After the lunch break the black and brown belts were the first to start again from 2.30 pm with advanced instruction by Shihan Goda till 3 pm when the other grades joined in for a general training session, finishing around 4.30 pm to 5 pm, and off to dinner at 6 pm.
The camp turned out to be not all just sweat and pain, but also quite educational with a few interesting lectures that filled most evenings. The first was given by George Papallo who is a chiropractor and runs several sports clinics in Sydney. George spoke on treating karate and sport related injuries. The next night was a coaching lecture by Graeme Emond. Graeme, who is a physical education teacher from Geelong, had everybody up participating in his lecture on sport sociology and his special Kyokushin fitness profile.
One night everybody was glued to the television set watching a very exciting video film of some of the past World Championships and All Japan Tournaments.
The last of the lectures was given by Bob Curzon-Siggers. Bob, who has his own dojo in East Bentleigh, Victoria, works as an ambulance paramedic, and hence Bob was able to give us a very knowledgeable lecture on what to do with some of the injuries that might occur in the course of training. Thanks must go out to those who lectured, for the time and effort they put into the lectures. They were greatly appreciated by all who attended the camp.
Another highlight of the camp was the beach training sessions. Who said karate was always too serious? We had two marvellous days of training, firstly on the sandy shores of South Narrabeen, where the instructors had a full time job just trying to keep everyone’s eyes looking forward, especially when the onlooking sun bathers were trying to tan all their bodies. The second day was at Collaroy, a little further down the beach where the waves and backwash was just a little calmer.
Another highlight, which was mainly for the senior grades, was the Bo-Jitsu instruction, for which we must thank Shihan Goda. We were also privileged to get some of Sensei Sato’s special tournament fighting instructions. It proved to be very fast, hard and interesting.
Saturday was a big day for the camp, for we had the first ever Australian-held 50 Man Kumite that was entered by four brave men, namely Sensei Gary Viccars from Victoria. Luke Grgurevic from Victoria, Tony Bowden from Queensland and Jim Phillips from NSW. Also in conjunction with the 50 Man Kumite, and not to be outshone by the 50 Man Kumite, was the black and brown belt grading which was overseen by Shihan Goda, Shihan Taylor and Shihan Boulton. At the end of the grading, the visiting Japanese instructors commented that it was of a very high standard and one of the hardest gradings they have ever had the privilege to see.
Saturday evening saw everyone in a more relaxed situation at the Savonara barbeque. With some very interesting acts and songs. especially the witty for should I say “bareing” act presented by Coffs Harbour.
Everyone obviously enjoyed the party and apart from a few stiff muscles from the grading, they were all up for their final early morning run and early morning training session on Sunday.
Following lunch, all grades got together for the final training session which was held “in” the swimming pool at the camp.
All in all everyone who attended the camp seemed to leave it feeling they had learnt something and had also enjoyed themselves at the first ever week-long National Training Camp.
This is a special breathing technique for Katate. Ibuki breathing can be traced back to Buddhism and even to one particular sect called Hindu Yoga. Ibuki is similar to the Sumo and Kendo Kiai. When it is used to make a spirited attack on their opponent. Ibuki is a pure, perfect way of breathing. In Karate training it is one of the most important parts of training.
A. Bring your feet together and arm’s to the side, you should be totally relaxed and not moving, looking straight ahead.
B. Then moving into a difference stance called Sanchin Dachi or half Heiko Dachi, draw your arms in a large circle, moving very slowly all the time. While you roll your arms in a large circle, breath in air slowly and quietly until you have taken in as much as you can.
C. The breathing in motion should stop when your arms have crossed above the head.
D. As the arms come down. The expulsion of the air should begin. Normal breathing is done by inflating the lungs and then deflating the difference with Ibuki is that the breathing is done with the stomach. The Japanese name for this part of the stomach is called tanden if translated it means the soul. The tanden being the center of the soul. From this point the air is forced out. The Larynx, the upper structure at the upper end of the trachea in the throat should be closed as small as possible. The air should be forced out through this small orifice making a very loud noise. Continue this until all the air is out. Your muscles should be totally locked and tight.
E. With all the air out, the tension should be kepted for a period of two seconds.
F. The last air in the mouth should then be force out making a short “Ka”sound. This is then the strongest posture. Ibuki is training for gathering power in a very short time.
Interview with uchi deshi – 1982 approx.
Talking about the permanent students at Honbu, it is nowadays very silent. The 3rd year Uchi deshi have completed their 1000 days of training and left. We are still waiting for the new first years to come.
A couple of days before they left, I asked the boys some questions. Akimoto Takuya is the Ryocho (that means he was appointed by Sosai to be the responsible one. Mostly Sosai chooses the eldest Uchi deshi but Yamamoto was already charged of being Sosai’s driver.)
Being the Ryocho means hard work, as this person has to keep order in the dormitory and settle all little problems (avoiding bothering Sosai) and to keep peace in the place. Sometimes this is very difficult, if the personalities of the other Uchi deshi do not get along.
Personalities are very different indeed, as suggests following interview:
Oda Katsuyuki, the rather silent one, Okumura Kazuyuki, the talkative one (not realizing that he frustrates all foreigners speaking a little Japanese, by mumbling the dialect of his hometown ‘) All agree that Okumura is the most vivacious personality (please read tumultuous !) in contrast to Fukuda who was even too reserved to answer my questions. Still if some job required a patient, handy person, it was Fukuda to do it. Yamamoto was too much engaged with his job, so that he could not find the time to answer the questions.
Q: Why did you want to become an Uchi deshi ?
AKIMOTO: I respected Sosai’s way of thinking very much. I had read all this books in my High School time. As there was no dojo at my place, I started judo. It looked stronger than those other styles ! After High School I got my chance to start full contact Karate.
ODA: I wanted to become strong very soon. I It goes faster as an Uchi deshi I chose Kyokushin because it is full contact, there is no do Jo near to where I lived, I practiced one year another style, when I was at High School, but later I changed for baseball.
OKUMURA: Sosai’s books arose my interest. At my High School time I started Kyokushin and
took part in tournaments
(Note from the editor: he took part in tournament before he became Uchi deshi. He was in fact a brownbelter when he started the Uchi dcshilife, but he had to gird on a white belt ! He did not make any problem about that rule. And when I asked him again why he started as an IJct.i deshi, as he got already so far, he starts talking about the beautiful girls in Tokyo…)
Q: What was for you the hardest thing in those 3 years ?
AKIMOTO: The first year is hard physically. But now, if I come to think about it, it was easy. You just had to do what you were told. The second year, we trained hard, but it was fun. The third year, I had all the responsibility; if a Ist year or a 2nd year student made a mistake, I was the one responsible ( = the one to be scolded !) however I had sometimes nothing to do with it
ODA: The first year was terribly hard. We had to do a lot of work and in fact few training Spiritually that is very hard, The rules are strict, and you have to get used to it, Also the communication be: seen senpai and kohai (senior and junior in degree) is difficult. As soon as one becomes brown belt (mostly in 2nd year) training becomes hard. Only as a 3rd year Uchi deshi one’s training schedule is really fixed.
OKUMURA: The first year was hard because of all the work to be done, and all the pressure of sempais, The 2nd year was more at ease, there was only the thought about the weight division tournament at Osaka, for which I had to prepare.
At my 3rd year time the pressure was bigger, because then I had the 17th All Japan Tournament to deal with.
Q: How do you feel about instructing ?
AKIMOTO: it is difficult. You cannot think about your own training. When you stand in front of the dojo, you have to excercise for everybody’s sake, so that everybody becomes strong, yourself including.
But if you only train for yourself..
ODA: I prefer to be taught. I am not good in it yet.
(Note from the editor: I know the students think quite the opposite !)
OKUMURA: That is my own training, I train what I tee! like, it is no problem. If the white belts do not understand right away s hat I mean, they have to think it over, and they will understand later.
Q: Do your have some funny memories ?
AKIMOTO: Real funny memories, I have not. Generally speaking, these 3 years were very hard. Now it is over, and if I come to think about it, it awas not that bad after all. It is like a tournament, first I really hate to do it, but considered afterwards, it becomes a sweet memory.
ODA: in my Ist and 2nd year I was always glad to have my day off ! Then I went to the pictures. In my 3rd year, I started weight training. Before there was not time for that,
OKIUMURA: I made a lot of friends, like the other Uchi deshi, but amongst other students as well
Q: What do you think of your last test ?
AKIMOTO: For myself, it could have been better. I want to try it again next year. (For Sandan) As I have to prove I am strong, to myself, to Sosai and for my Kohais (juniors in degree), if the sempai (senior) is not strong, it is a bad feeling for the Kohais,
ODA: Sosai always says I cannot rely on my kicks alone. I still have to work a lot on my punch, it has to become a lot stronger. I can only take part in a Tournament if I am more confident, I hare losing, (Who does not ?)
OKUMURA: 20men kumite is hard, but compared to a tournament, it is not so hard, because in a tournament for sure you only meet strong opponents,
Q: What are you planning to do in the future ?
AKIMOTO: I am planning to be an Uehi deshi for another 3 years at Goda Shihan’s dojo. I want to take part in a lot of tournaments, for sure the All Japan Tournament. I fact, I only want to become a champion.
ODA: I want to continue my training and work parttime. That is hard, but as my sempais can do it, it shows it is not impossible. My actual goal is the All Japan Tournament, I want to stay in Tokyo till I am 27, and after I studied acupuncture, I want to go back to my country tow :.
But in fact you never know, one day or the other we, Uchi dehi, can get a phone call from Sosai, that there is an instructor wanted abroad, and then it might sound tempting. .
OKI MU RA: I am planning to go home, to help my father with his business Of course I will continue Karate, but on my own. My place is very remote, so I will not start a dojo. But I am planning to take part in the local tournament of Ishikawa and the All Japan Tournament.
I sincerely hope the boys will make their way !!
7:00 in the morning saw groups of students begin to gather in front of the Tokyo Honbu. Coming in ones and twos, bringing only the bare essentials in tiny bags, the students stood quiet and calm ready to face the coming 5 days of grueling summer training.
At 8:00a.m. all the students had assembled, the buses had arrived and with the minimum of fuss and bother, they filed into their allotted buses as directed by their Sempai. The trip started quietly but excitement began to grow as they passed out through the drab and haze of Tokyo by way of the great overhead highways, and out onto the open road.
By 10:00a.m. the hot sun streamed in through the windows and the students, riding in their air-conditioned buses, savored their last treat of luxury as they gazed out at the rows upon rows of peculiarly round-shaped tea bushes growing on the terraced hills attended by the farmers in their traditional garb and large, peak topped straw hats.
The destination, the Sakuraga Ike Shrine, was reached at 1:00p.m. and the students alighted eager to explore their new home. Within minutes of alighting sweat began to pour from the brows of all, and out came the inevitable ‘sweat rag’.
Summer training is always held in the height of the sultry Japanese summer. This year the traditional site of Ichinomiya in Chiba-Ken was abandoned for another seaside location, this time in Shizuoka-Ken, some 200 kilometers South-West of Tokyo. The living quarters were provided in the rooms attached to the local shrine, and the training site was the bead’ itself. The camp was divided into two groups of ! days from July 25th. to August 4th., each camp being attended by over 150 students.
The shrine accommodation catered for the malt students, and the female students were based in and their building belonging to the shrine, an old, large( and very traditional style Japanese house.
The site did much to enhance the atmosphere for the 7 foreign students who attended this years camp However, in traditional Japanese style, students slept Futon to futon (mattress), covering every available space in each room. Each morning the futons were rolled up and placed in piles out of the way, to be spread out again in the evening.
Although exceedingly economical and not at all unusual for the Japanese, this sleeping arrangement drew a few surprised and somewhat negative comments from those bed sleeping accustomed foreigners new to Japan.
The day always began at 4:00a.m., which necessitated getting up around 3 :30a.m., a nasty shock for the late risers. Having been placed in set groups under given Sempai, the groups set off for the beach. The 3 kilometer jog to the beach was not much of a bother in the early morning cool, but proved to be most tiresome in the heat of the day. Down past putrid smelling pig farms, down a shingle, stony road, over a wide, deep and foul smelling river by way of huge boulders, along the concrete embankment, and we were there. All sessions began with an extended period of meditation, sitting Seiza facing the sea. With eyes closed, breathing calm and regulated, the roar of the waves being all that was audible, it was indeed an experience. Afterwards, while warming up with the usual exercises, one could scarcely believe that here we are, in the land of the rising sun, down on the beach in the early morning, practicing Karate.
Moving through Kihon (basics) one comes to appreciate the worth of practicing on loose sand. Beach training certainly taxes the body, especially the legs, not to mention the patience as one struggles to continue with the unpleasantness of having sand sent flying into the nostrils, eyes, ears and hair.
When Kihon was completed we divided into our groups and worked out until 7 :30a.m., when we regrouped again to close the session and jog back to camp.
Back at camp, it was a scramble to be bathed in time for breakfast at 8 :00a.m. When the entire camp was assembled in the eating room, the senior instructors entered followed by Kancho and much loud Osu-ing.
By this time, the sun was already high in the sky, and all had rivers of sweat pouring down their necks. Breakfast was traditionally Japanese and had little appeal to the foreigners. A bowl of rice over which was poured a raw egg beaten in soya source, a few salted pickles, Japanese bean soup and a bottle of milk. Liquids proved most popular with the over heated foreigners, who sat amazed at the amount of rice the small bodied Japanese could pack away in such a short time.
Each group was assigned a time to help prepare and clear away the meals, but were always assisted at every meal by most members of the ladies group.
From breakfast until lunchtime was free, usually taken up by sleeping or making friendships over ice- cream and cans of juice. The ladies spent a considerable amount of time washing their Karate-Gi which they did by putting them into heaps, lavishly pouring over soap powder and water while most energetically jumping up and down on them. This ritual, although quick and communal, was not observed by the boys who preferred just to hang their Gi out to dry without such a fuss. Lunch was a similar affair with equally unpalatable food from the foreigners point of view, although I personally find great delight in the taste of raw fish. The afternoon session began at 1:00p.m. with the
same quick jog to the beach, where for the first hour after clearing the beach of rubbish, everyone was free to swim and relax . Swimming proved most popular with the foreigners but generally speaking Japanese people do not like cold water, consequently it was considered gallant and praiseworthy to enter the sea and swim. By this time the sun beat down mercilessly, turning the skins of the Japanese dark brown and mine a painful deep red. Being unable to focus my blue eyes in the glare of the sun, I wore a sun viser which the Japanese found highly amusing and rewarded me with a dumping in the sea. After this wonderful hour in the scorching sun, training began in earnest. Incorporated in the training were various games and exercises, including bouts of Sumo wrestling, a sure way to develop the stomach, hips, legs and antis. Training continued until 4:30p.m. when we set about to jog back to the shrine again, bath and assemble for the evening meal. After the meal we were free until 11:00p.m. although most had succumbed to sleep long before that hour, exhausted after a total of six hours training.
Lying on my futon, dripping with sweat, the heavy odor of insect repellent smoke stinging my eyes and nose, and tired and sore from the sun, I closed my weary eyes and resigned myself to the rigors of summer training.
Rising at 3:30a.m. the next morning, donning partially wet Karate-Gi due to over night rain, we set off to repeat the previous day’s activities. This continued for four days without much variation. On the evening of the forth day, the routine changed a little.
We were assembled in the dining room to receive Kancho’s speech. The students, drinking in Kancho’s every word, were informed on the latest happenings in the Kyokushinkaikan and on Kancho’s opinions on current issues, including a very humorous comment on the cartoon series ‘Kung Fooey’, screening here in Japan under the title of 0011, ‘won won’ being the Japanese version of a dog’s bark. Students were also introduced to the cameramen who had come to take pictures for Kancho’s forthcoming book, the ‘Encyclopedia of Karate’.
The fifth day proved extra difficult with the for- boding presence of photographers moving around, but it also helped to break the degree of monotony which appears after the forth day.
In between the morning and afternoon classes, a grading test was given to all students from the correspondence school. Borrowing the local dojo, the students were put through a regular grading test and were individually advised by Kancho Oyama. As it always is in Kyokushin-Karate, the Kumite test proved the hardest. However, sore and battered as they were, they still attended the afternoon formal session.
During the afternoon session, students were given the opportunity to perform Tameshiwari (breaking), kicks, punches and strikes being popular. One student was most successful at Nukite breaking, another at head smashing and even members of the senior and ladies groups tried.
That evening a Sayonara Party was held. Competing in teams, each group performed an item. Imitations of Sempai Oishi and Royama and of Kancho Oyama defeating a dragon in the local village proved the most popular act and won that team three water melons. After the teams events, each instructor sang a song and the evening concluded with a performance by Kancho Oyama. The party was great and harmless fun, adding greatly to the memory of summer training.
On the final day, a photography session was held at the beach instead of the usual marathon run, and so closed formal training.
After breakfast, the students cleared their quarters packed and waited, to the accompaniment of much camera clicking, for the buses to arrive to take them back to Tokyo. After the five hour trip back, the students, tired and weary alighted once again in Ikebukuro, the home of Tokyo Honbu, bid farewell to their friends, and made their ways home well pleased with their exhausting, but rewarding five days effort.
The student from India commented that he had never done anything like this before, but rather wished that they could have provided more appetizing meals. The three students from Guam, who stayed the entire 10 days, said it was much harder than at home, long and exhausting, but they liked the spirit and humor shown by all. They commented that the Sempai gave everyone a hard time but that they were really ‘good sorts’. One Guam student said that he had called his group Sempai ‘Golden Foot’ on account of his wonderful kicks, “I sang to him every night”, he said, “and if I ever slacked in anything at all, he put his ‘Golden Foot’ in my face”. Nevertheless, they became firm friends, and ‘Golden Foot’ has earned himself a trip to Guam.
The foreign students, three from Guam and one each from Singapore, India, Lebanon and New Zealand, considered the camp well worthwhile, but jokingly added that next time they wouldn’t say ‘No’ to an air cooler, a fan and some good hardy ‘tucker’.