2014 Obon holiday

Here is the shirtless kenshusei video you have been waiting for.


The Daimonji festival was yesterday, and so the Obon holiday has come to a close and training re-starts tomorrow.  The kenshusei are nestled all snug in their beds while visions of koho ukemi dance in their heads.

It was a nice holiday week.  At the kenshusei house, we experimented with CouchSurfing–letting strangers sleep in our apartment just out of good will and hospitality.  We had 5 extra people in the house at one point.



On Wednesday of the week, the kenshusei and the part-time kenshusei got together at a beautiful spot on the Takano River called Yase-Hieizanguchi.  You reach it by taking the Eizan Electric Rail Line from Demachiyanagi Station in northern Kyoto.





Just like last year, we had a really great barbecue party, but this year there was a lot more swimming. Kitamura-san was especially enthusiastic, resembling nothing so much as a river otter.




Later, the rest of the kenshusei went for a swim too and we fired up the grill.

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The week wrapped up with the Daimonji Festival (called Gozan no Okuribi by the local Kyoto people), in which bonfires are lit on the mountains surrounding the city in order to act as signposts for the spirits of the dead to return to the afterlife.




2014-15 part-time Kenshusei, first weekend

On Saturday night after work, I went to the dojo to find the part-time kenshusei training with Payet-sensei.  The Mugenjuku Part-Time Kenshusei Course is for students unable or unwilling to take the regular Kenshusei Course.  The part-timers meet for 3.5 hours on Saturday night and then 3.5 hours on Sunday morning as well.  The course is taught entirely by Payet-sensei.  When I arrived last night, they were working on seiza ho, not unlike the regular kenshusei during the week.

This year, Akiko has returned to take the PT course a second time.  Sato-san and Andy-sensei are also repeating…


weekend warriors no more

February has arrived, and the Kenshusei Course is coming to an end.

The Part-Time Kenshusei, or weekend kenshusei as we like to call them, are meeting for the last time this weekend.  The weekend kenshusei are the silent majority of the Mugenjuku Kenshusei program.  There were about 14 of them this year, and they met every Saturday night and Sunday morning for 3.5 hours of training each time.

Last night, I went to see Aoi-san take her exam for nidan, or 2nd degree black belt.  This morning, Steve and Sato-san took their exams, but I had to work.  This evening, we are having a big party in the dojo–the part-time and full-time kenshusei together.  We will say goodbye to Steve, who is returning to England, and Akiko, who must have to go back to work!

2014part-time-kenshusei-aoi-exam1Goodbye, Akiko.

2014part-time-kenshusei-aoi-exam2Congrats, Aoi.

Aoi was very happy at the end of her exam.  For nidan, she had to do regular jiyu waza, ushiro-hiji-mochi-jiyu-waza (grabbing the elbows from behind freestyle), and futari jiyu waza (freestyle against two attackers).  She did very well and gave some good koshi-nage throws to Andy-sensei.  But all that jiyu waza is very tiring.  I don’t know if she was happier to get her nidan or to be finished with the test!

2014part-time-kenshusei-aoi-exam3Goodbye, Steve.

Many of the weekend kenshusei are injured.  Okatani-san has a broken hand, Steve has broken ribs, and Nakaema-san has a broken foot.  It’s all part of the kenshusei fun!

2014part-time-kenshusei-aoi-exam5the survivors