Just like last year, April 1st is no joke at Mugenjuku. I showed up early for the Tuesday morning ippan class and then participated in the first day’s training. Also present were:
- shihan Jacques Payet-sensei
- instructor Chris Crampton-sensei
- instructor Andy Carter-sensei
- assistant instructor Nick Richardson
- assistant instructor Yasuda Atsushi
- sewanin Izzy Arkin
- kenshusei graduate Takenaga Naomi
- kenshusei Saegusa Jotaro
- kenshusei Herve Laurelle
- kenshusei Scott Richards
- kenshusei Alex Gusev
- kenshusei Kitamura (mitori geiko)
So as you can imagine, it was a very full dojo.
For me, the day started with the First Keiko’s taiso (warm-ups), but for the kenshusei the day started with learning how to do proper morning soji (cleaning). The kenshusei arrived a little after 7am to change and then waited for sewanin Izzy to tell them what to do. I think my camera did a good job of capturing Scott, Herve, and Jotaro’s first day jitters. Everyone hears about the rigours of the course and wonders if they have what it takes. Or maybe is just afraid.
Much of the first day involves simply learning what you are supposed to do and how you are supposed to act in the dojo.
Izzy took the kenshusei outside to show them where they have to leave the trash and recycling, sweep the dirt and leaves, pick up the mail, etc. Here they are outside that Waraku entryway that leads down to the dojo. I entered there every day last year. Oh what memories!
Since the kenshusei cannot disturb the morning ippan (regular student) classes, Izzy had to conduct a lot of his instruction in the dojo hallway. He had a lot to tell them. I hope they can remember everything, for their own sakes.
During First Keiko on day 1, the kenshusei get only some foretaste of what the coming weeks will be like–following commands, learning to act in unison with others, exercises, static position training, etc. On day 1, they are pretty clueless about the general pattern of classes–bowing in, lining up in kamae after bowing, etc, so there is a lot of work on that in Second Keiko and Third Keiko, too. There’s also some practice on shuri-ashi, posture, attitude, kiai (“osu!”), etc.
Of course, after each class, the dojo mats have to be cleaned with wet rags (zokin) in the traditional manner. By the end of the day, the kenshusei still hadn’t gotten it, so Naomi-san helped instruct them how to do it properly.