The Budokan 武道館, Tsukuba University, Ibaraki Japan

Martial arts, hands down, is one of my favorite pastimes. Whether it’s watching them on TV or doing them, it’s something I’ve been connected to for as long as I can remember. One of my worst fears when I came to Japan was that I was going to have a hard time finding a place to train regularly because of the whole language barrier thing. When I got here, I was pretty lucky because one of my co-workers was really into martial arts (namely the Brazilian Jiujitsu side of it). He showed me, very early in my stay, exactly where the Budokan was.

The Budokan, 武道館, is a training hall for an array of different martial arts. Budo, 武道 is the Japanese term for martial arts, and the kan kanji, 館 represents house or hall. The one at Tsukuba University is pretty big. There are separate rooms for judo, aikido, karate, kendo, and even sumo. Honestly, I don’t usually see very many people training in the budokan. I’m sure it’s because I go during the times when non-peak hours.

When I do actually go, I spend the majority of my time in either the karate or the judo rooms. I like the karate area because there are heavy bags there. I like the judo room because the mat is very comfortable to walk and kick around on. When I went on Sunday, I could hear that unmistakable thud of shins on Muay Thai mitts. I was so happy to go, even though I didn’t do a full workout. Whenever I’m in the Budokan, it’s like I’m instantly able to focus, able to clear my head and remember what my purpose is for being here.

Budokan Tsukuba University. Wait...does that sign say "Besball?" I totally missed that, LOL.

From what I understand, the kendo and judo clubs at Tsukuba University are immensely strong. I’ve gotten to see both classes in full, and I’ll have to fully corroborate those statements. I didn’t see a weak student in the bunch. In both clubs, it just seemed like student levels were good, better, and best.

I know sometimes women get the whole “She’s okay for a girl.” stigma. To some of those people I’d have to tell them to please come and watch these two clubs. The girls were incredibly good. What they lacked in power, they compensated for in technique. It was so impressive, especially with the judo. If I can do it without getting struck in the face with a shinai or having my shoulder dislocated from a throw, I hope to record some of the classes while they’re in session.

See you tomorrow,


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  • Ryan McGuinness

    Whoa, you worked the bag like Bruce Lee! What is the Capoeria and Tae Kwon Do like in Japan? Do many clubs exist? I’m very interested in taking up either martial art.

    • Donald Ash

      Bruce Lee? Oh man, I wish…one of my heroes. I know Capoeria clubs exist all over Japan, but I’ve never tried Capoeira here. Tae Kwon Do is a similar situation. I’ve seen several clubs but I couldn’t speak to the quality of the schools because I haven’t gotten to go in and watch. But I’m sure they must be pretty good. A little searching and you can find a reputable school. You know, I can’t see Japan having very many non-reputable schools.

  • I wanna play! I haven’t gotten to in years!

    • Donald Ash

      You should, Nanami. It’s really a lot of fun!!

  • Webwolf

    Donaldo San, I miss martial arts so much, I can’t wait to get back into it. However I have really declined in fitness levels and most probably skill. How does one go about joining a martial arts studio? Is it a flat rate? Do you go to classes? Can you go to classes? Do you know any places in Morioka? Thanks hun!

    • Donald Ash

      You can do it! As far as fitness levels go, don’t sweat it. I’m not in my best shape, but just doing that consistent, little by little, leads people to amazing things.

      I signed up with my local Kyokushin Dojo in my city. Kyokushin is one of the popular, full-contact karate styles here in Japan. I watched maybe five classes before actually signing up. I wanted to get a vibe about the school and what classes were like. Most dojos will let you observe first, and I HIGHLY recommend it, just so you know what you’re signing up for. I couldn’t speak enough Japanese to know what was happening during the registration process, so one of the English-speaking students helped me out.

      Usually schools have some kind of registration and uniform fee to get started, then it’s a flat fee every month thereafter. There are sometimes special promotions that schools will do to increase enrollment. My uniform and registration fee were waived (which was a great incentive to start).

      It costs me 8400 yen every month. I’m not sure about schools in Morioka, but I’ll definitely keep my eyes and ears open for you.

  • Jess

    Glad to see you still have some skill! Throw your hip over a little more to get that bag moving more…ha!

    • Donald Ash

      I’ll try, I haven’t yet developed the patented Jess Dillard, “Move Outta the Way or It’s Broken” kicking technique. I’ll keep practicing, though, LOL.

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