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.
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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