Sunday, 17 April 2016

Barbies Big Adventure: Godan Test

So as I mentioned, for quite a few years now I have studied a martial art.  I love it.  I can't explain why, or how it makes me feel but I really do love it. 

 I recently had the amazing opportunity to go to Japan and train.  It was my first trip over and I was excited, nervous and honestly a little apprehensive.  It was a bucket-list type of trip for me, one I've dreamed of since I started at 17.  My teacher was there for the first few days, he showed me where all the important places were and made sure I was generally settled in. 

This trip gave me the opportunity to take my godan test.  It is one of the few formal tests within the organisation and is the only way to obtain a 5th dan grade. The test itself involves being struck with - or dodging if you're doing it right - a padded sword that is being swung at you from behind.  I arrived on the Friday and made my first attempt that evening.  I think I was too amazed at simply being there to be nervous or as scared of performing badly as I was before my trip.  I and thought that failing would kill my confidence, but surprisingly, when I got hit I was okay about it. Apart from the burning line on my head!...The next day when I finally got up (my teacher had taken us all out and we didn't get home until the early hours of the morning) I realised that I needed to fail on that first attempt.  It taught me the most valuable lesson - what I was supposed to be feeling.

At the Sunday class I tried again, this time knowing what I was looking for and I passed straight away.  I can't tell you what happened, it's honestly a complete blur, all I know was that I knelt, I moved when I felt I should, then there was a shout, some clapping and people congratulating me.

The rest of the trip I attended a large number of training sessions, often getting made to show techniques in front of the class by the teacher as the newest 5th dan in the dojo.  That bit was mortifying but everyone was very nice - I know I looked petrified.  Not as much as I did on the following Friday when the grand master himself pointed at me during class and beckoned me to punch.  I know I looked terrified because people told me so afterwards...but I did it and survived to tell the tale!  Students of my grade wouldn't normally be selected for that so I feel extremely honoured, I'm probably more proud of that experience than I am of getting my grade!

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Barbie bucket-list trip ahoy!

We all have a bucket-list, not necessarily a physical one but a list of those things you would love to day....well recently I fulfilled one of my items on this imaginary list and went to Japan.  It wasn't really for what most people would consider a holiday, I didn't do very many(or really any) of the standard tourist type activities because I was there for one reason.  Martial Arts. One in particular, that I have been training in for more years than I usually like to admit to (it makes me feel both old and like I should be better at it by now!)

So, I took a trip to what a friend described from my holiday photos as the ass end of Japan - not meant in a bad way but when you mention a trip to Japan people automatically imagine the bright lights of downtown Tokyo - I stayed mostly in a shopping district and travelled daily to small villages that often contained not much more that a few shops, houses and a dojo.  I have a fair number of photos but I spent quite a lot of time with Hiromi who is a selfie-obsessive so I also have lots of photos that look like this...

I have another post coming soon so I can ramble specifically about the martial art bit but here is the flavour of Japan as I saw it...
Dolls for Girls Day

buildings near Mabashi

Cute little box cars

Purple bunned idea why!

If you're going to groom dogs why not in a window?

Noda shrine

From what appeared to be the pork only restaurant - after some discussions with the waitress!

Typical breakfast in my hotel

"view" from my room, this summed up the oddity of Japan, the big highrises with the little shrine nestled between
More posts will follow about this trip...if only to make me stop talking about it constantly!