The first week of the Kenshusei Course has come to end and no one has quit, although everyone is bruised and battered.
Wednesday, April 2
I arrived Wednesday morning to find practice already in progress, with Andy-sensei taking it out of the kenshusei as Chris-sensei looked on approvingly. Andy-sensei is a great encourager and a great motivator. He uses carrot and stick techniques to build up the students.
This year, they look fit, but they aren’t Kenshusei Fit yet, so Andy-sensei has to make sure they don’t cut corners like putting their feet down.
Kenshusei have to learn to reply with a big “Osu!” when they are given commands.
Then the First Keiko–the conditioning class–finished, and it was time for me to put down my camera and started getting worn out with seiza ho, shako ho, shikko ho, and the many ways of kenshusei suffering. But after the Second Keiko comes lunch. The kenshusei all eat lunch together with Sensei or whoever is instructing that day. Train together, rest together, eat together.
Thursday, April 3
By the time I arrived Thursday morning, the kenshusei were taping up all their exposed skin and bleeding through their dogis. And they hadn’t even done any suwari waza yet!!
On Thursday afternoon, I went to the D2 homestore to buy some supplies for the kenshusei apartment. Herve, Scott, Alex, and I are all living together in a quite large apartment with tatami floors. The building is even closer to the dojo than the apartment Nick and I shared last year. So it is a real luxury. On the way back from D2, I stopped to admire the cherry blossoms by Kyoto’s Kamo River. The place where the Kamo and Takano rivers meet is very close to D2, and from the bridge, you can see the cherry trees lining the banks of the Takano, heading up toward Chris-sensei’s house in the mountains.
Friday, April 4
Friday morning started with the weapons class (bokken and jo) as usual. Unfortunately, I then had to head to work, so I don’t have any good footage of the relief the kenshusei must have felt over making it through the first week.
Later on Friday night, I met Andy-sensei, sewanin Izzy, and Kitamura and Takenaga for a trip to Funaoka Onsen followed by beer and hot sake at a nearby guesthouse. Funaoka is perhaps Kyoto’s best onset, and the kenshusei are very lucky to live close enough to it to take advantage of it easily.