I am the 3rd deshi in the history to follow with Sensei Marshall
to meet top Budo sensei in Japan. First was Sensei Michael Söderkvist
1981, then Sensei Lars Sjöberg 2004 and now 2009 my turn.
I arrived at Narita Airport at 10.40 on Thursday 26th March and
was met by Sensei Marshall who had arrived one day earlier from
his home country New Zealand, meeting family, old friends and also
invited to hold budo seminar’s throughout NZ.
I was affected a little by jetlag and therefore it was great to
check into Kimi Ryokan in Ikebukuro and take it easy during the
Day 2 we found the original Kyokushinkai
Honbu Dojo where Sensei Marshall spent 3 training sessions/daily
6 days/week during 6 months in 1965, unfortunately it was a disappointment
to see the condition of the exterior around the dojo, and no activity
to be seen.
Started with a routine I appreciated
in Tokyo – breakfast at Denny’s…. Bacon &
egg, toast, juice & COFFEE. A café med wonderful atmosphere,
youngsters dressed like in a manga comic, sleeping at the table,
businessmen, and a character with a woollen cap & pink socks.
We had a complete day in Ikebukuro, a different and likeable suburb
of Tokyo – this City is easy to like.
Now things are moving, Takagi sensei has a tempo compared to a political
minister on a city visit. We started with a trip to Mt.Fujuyama,
Japans highest mountain – a beautiful sight and a rather holy
place for the Japanese. On the way we went to an old quaint Samurai
house near Lake Kawaguchi, where we ate a Soba (Noodle lunch) -
really fast so that we could keep the timetable!! We continued the
tour with next stop at a Japanese Bath house – these are very
easy to get quite attached to – warm and relaxing with outdoor
baths and an outstanding construction. There was a sign that persons
with tattoos are not admitted to the Bath! In English! I pointed
out that I had Berit tattooed in a heart on my shoulder, but Takagi
sensei said this did not apply for foreigners – although I
did wonder why this was in English!
With a close eye on the schedule we quickly moved onto the next
item – visit to the Sakura – Cherry Blossom Festival
at Ueno where thousands of people gathered to celebrate this season
with a picnic under the cherry trees. Here one could bring some
tasty food and a bottle of sake, where there were quite a few who
had done so especially with the sake already quite early in the
afternoon. Then on the move again to an exclusive restaurant overlooking
Ueno where we were treated to a fantastic sushi meal. After a cup
of green tea we thought maybe possible for a little break to enjoy
the atmosphere but no – full speed to Takagi sensei´s
Honbu dojo ( he has six dojo´s). Sensei Marshall was asked
to take the karate training first with the children. When we came
to the dojo we were greeted with a welcome sign with our names on,
we commenced the training with a wonderful group of children who
gave delighted shouts of laughter when Sensei Marshall got them
moving. I am not sure that that they laugh so much during their
normal training as both the sempai´s and parents looked a
little shocked., but as Sensei Marshall says “there must be
enjoyment in the training” and there was plenty of this so
you could not help but feel the happiness during this session.
After the children´s group followed the adult Taikiken training,
Sensei took this training with me as Uke and I was thrown, hit,
swept, with a little blood afterwards, but I was able to give Sensei
a black eye with a good Uraken. One of Takagi sensei´s students
asked me “ Åke-san doesn´t it hurt very much to
fight like this?” to which I replied “No – Swedish
Steel you know!” I have always longed to get the right opportunity
to make this comment!
At the end of this keiko the dojo members arranged a “mingle
party” in spite of limited knowledge of English, all tried
to ask a large variety of questions and I brought the next 2 hours
answering questions about Sweden, Karate, Taikiken training, and
what did I think about Japanese girls. We then took the train back
to Ikebukuro and a well deserved sleep.
Takagi sensei´s dojo and members gave us a very warm reception
and positive impression,
and hope to meet them again.
Denny´s again – wonderful! We then packed our belongings
and set off for the train to Bushi to meet Norimasa Iwama Sensei.
It was a lovely day so we relaxed against a shop wall and enjoyed
an ice-cream while waiting for Iwama Sensei to pick us up at the
station. We were invited to tea and cakes while watching budo films,
until all dojo members
arrived at sensei´s house, we then went to several dojo´s
before finding one which was not in use – 3rd one lucky! We
started with a long training in Hai followed by Neri, then it was
fighting of course – this is Iwama sensei´s dojo! I
had a match with one of Sensei´s best students, then was given
personal training with Iwama Sensei – a fantastic budoman.
Incredible speed in movement and control of the upper body which
was really felt in Tui Shou. After keiko we went to yet another
bath house for relaxation (much appreciated) then back to sensei´s
home for a very nice evening meal together with all the dojo members.
When dinner was finished Sensei Iwama´s students carried in
our bedding to the room.
After breakfast Iwama sensei kindly drove us into Shakuji station
where we could take the train back to Ikebukuro and a little rest.
Later we took a walkabout in Ikebukuro finishing the day with a
good meal in the most agreeable atmosphere.
Ikebukuro, a part of Tokyo that is easy to like.
Mt. Fujiyama, a national symbol and very beautiful.
Sakura time, cherry blossom festival in Ueno.
The food is not just very tasteful, it is beautiful too.
Takagi Sensei Dojo, karate group.
Sensei Marshall instructs with me as uke.
Nice dinner at Iwama Senseis and Tomie-sans house.
The great temple in Nikko.
Sensei Marshall and I in the original Kyokushinkai Dojo.
Lunch in Nikko.The cook and I saw an exciting baseball game.
Training in Sensei Sato´s Dojo.
Sensei Marshall woke me up with the news that he had decided to
award me Mokuroku 3rd Dan, rather shaken and difficult to digest
this news in the morning, but I have experienced this before. To
NIKKO, we took the usual breakfast at Denny´s and then I left
for my adventure solo to Nikko as unfortunately Sensei´s foot
was not in form for this trip.
It was for the best as I had with me my Stepcounter and this gave
a result of 26,000 steps covered during the day and it felt like
uphill for most of it. Nikko was a nice little town with a main
street full of interesting shops, I stopped at a little restaurant
and ate some fish and rice, watched some baseball with the cook
resulting in I became a little late to see the main temple interior,
but I enjoyed the whole area also visiting the grave of Tokugawa
the first shogun.
Rather similar to Skansen in Japanese style. Arrived back quite
late at our hotel with tired feet
in time to go out and eat dinner with Sensei, but first to have
some sake I had bought to celebrate my new grade to Sensei, when
coming to our room I received a very nice minature model of a shogun
– a present from Sensei Marshall …. What a Day !!
Train to Yuki City, Ibaraki-ken to meet and train with Yoshimichi
After a couple of hours travelling we were meet by a most happy
Sato Sensei ( which he was all the time ) at Oyama Station and drove
us to his home where we were invited to tea and sandwiches by wonderful
Kyoku-san. Sensei Marshall and Sensei Sato discussed Taikiken organisation
and Sensei Marshall received a good acceptance to the Power Point
presentation of what is Taikiken which is being used outside of
Japan. Sato Sensei helped me with my name in Kanji to get this on
my own stamp. In the middle of this pleasant discussion suddenly
became Tui-shou with Sato Sensei. – what incredible control
! We also enjoyed Sato Sensei´s invention of a heating lamp
under the table in the living room with a blanket to wrap around
the legs… as the temperature is rather cold during winter
and early spring.
Later we ate a delicious dinner and a very enjoyable evening together
with Sato Sensei and Kyoko-san. Wonderful people!
Breakfast ( fantastic coffee here) and training started at
10.00 with Yuri, Hai, and Neri, and did pushing training with Koseki-san
(deshi to Sensei Sato the past 15 years).
A very accomplished and pleasant kenpoka. I received several points
of advice – my left hand
is very stiff and that I was leaning forward a little too much,
followed by a 5 minute test to be alert in my kamae without noticeable
movement … then in Ritsu zen when Sato Sensei penetrated my
position with a genuine katana – What a feeling ! I felt quite
Training continued for around 3.5 hours and I took in all that Sato
Sensei demonstrated, finishing when Sato Sensei gave me a 12 kg
stone to hold and use in Yuri – this became almost too much
and when I turned around I was met by three smiling faces –
Sensei Sato, Marshall & Koseki – but it was worth it!
In the afternoon we went to a place selling antiques to look for
a good Iaito, but did not find a suitable onebut bought a nice box
for Berit. Then it was time for ice cream at a very nice restaurant
followed by a visit to one of Sato Sensei´s training “dojo´s,
he has several ! enabling him to select the best for the weather
and wind. Dinner was a highlight and a perfect way to end the day
with good food and company, a couple of students also joined us
later during the evening.
During this time I also took apart Family Sato´s refridgerator
/freezer which was giving a most disturbing noise this proved to
be a ventilation fan that had become frozen in, so with help of
a hair dryer and a Swiss army knife the operation was successful
instead of buying a new unit as had been suggested to them.
Up for a great breakfast, and a small chat in the garden
with the warmth from a sunny spring day, we were then driven to
Oyama station to take the train back to Ikebukuro.
I am really glad to have met Sato Sensei and his wife Kyoko-san
– what wonderful persons!
At Ikebukuro we met up again with Takagi Sensei. We tried again
to visit Kyokushin Honbu Dojo and this time it was open, the inside
looked a lot better than the exterior, a quick visit with a couple
of photo’s for the memory. Our next destination was to Yoyogi
and Meiji Jingu the historic dojo for where Sawai Sensei started
Taikiken keiko. Again photo´s taken for the memory, and we
walked around the Temple and park a beautiful part in the middle
of Tokyo, during which Takagi Sensei decided to attack Sensei Marshall
several times to test his ability.
Until we finally made a break at another special place in Taikiken´s
history – Café Renoir
where Taiki kenpoka met after training for “morning service”
together with Sawai Sensei.
It felt a good way to end a perfect Budo trip, I had met and trained
with the important names
in Taikiken, visited historical places, and lived the atmosphere
in Tokyo, finishing at the café where Sawai Sensei finished
his keiko with his group of kenpoka. There was a lot during the
10 days but at the same time it felt that it was accomplished without
stress (apart from the tour with Takagi Sensei – active like
a squirrel always with a happy face and attitude).
I thank these fantastic Budo Sensei for all the time they gave to
me and hope that I get the chance to meet and train with them several
Thank you Sensei Marshall for a fantastic trip.
Correction of the movement was quick, accurate and very clear. Here
is a master.
Sensei Sato breaks my ki with a katana.
I do neri training with a big stone, after 3.5 hours of training.
To everyone's delight.
The wonderful Kyoko-san and I.
Sensei Marshall back to the roots, 35 years later.
Ritsu zen in the birth place of Takiken.
Takagi Sensei tests me in Tui-shou.
Even Sensei Marshall was attacked by a smiling Takagi Sensei, in
the middle of the crowd.
Sensei Marshall and Sensei Takagi outside the famous café
Here ends my trip in Japan at Cafe Renoir. A perfect end in Sawai