Mr. Göran Crafoord (Chief Instructor of Kongo-ryu) practices Moving Basics
Sitting on the flight back to Sweden, trying to summarize all the things that you experience in just a few days is challenge. Not just because there were so many and all worth mentioning. Going to Japan and hombu dojo are in themselves something that fills you with a lot of reflections and emotions.
On Sunday 8th of October, full of expectations and with a growing jet lag we arrived at the hombu dojo in Tsurumi, Yokohama, Japan. The weather was sunny and warm, totally different from Sweden where autumn is moving forward in full speed. As we arrived a day late, we missed the first day of Sai, Nunchaku and Tonfa training but we quickly blended in with the group of ten participants. Among the participants was Sensei Manzo from the Philippines who we came to have a lot of fun together with.
No matter how much you prepare, it is a pleasure to find out that even if Ryukyu Kobudo Kongo-ryu’s instructional DVD is an exceptionally well produced, you can never compare it to the help from great instructors. During the first day, we had pleasure of being taught by Shuseki Shihan (Grandmaster) Sakagami, Sensei Ken Suzuki sensei, Sensei Ayumu Oda and Sensei Shoichi Yokoyama. Starting at 10 am, finishing at 6:30 PM it was a long day full of hard work and patient guidance from the instructors on how to use the Bo in correct and efficient ways. It was also a day of also many laughs. Training with masters and friends is such a fine experience.
On the second day, we went to Sensei Suzuki’s dojo which is in a junior high school. Another day of Bo training, repeating Moving Basics # 1-12, Basic Katas #1-3 and also Traditional Katas “Shushi no Kon Sho” and “Ryusei no Kon.” After a number of Aha’s! we ended up with sore legs dinner in a nearby restaurant.
Tuesday, we spent to a lovely park named “Musashino no Mori Koen.” just outside of Chofu airport where it is located in the suburb of Tokyo. Sensei Ayumu was checking our knowledge and skills in Sai and Nunchaku. It felt a bit strange to practice weapons in an open are knowing that such training at home would bring attention from the police as Nunchaku are illegal in Sweden, at least in public places.
On the evening, we went to Sensei Kitaoka’s dojo (Japan Karatedo Itosu-kai, Sho Karatedo Club International) in Mitaka city, Tokyo. It was so good to see them again. Sensei Kitaoka was in Sweden a few years ago, and his daughter Sensei Ai visited us during a couple of wonderful days in springtime and practicing kobudo and karate with us (thanks again). In the Mitaka dojo, we also had the pleasure of meeting Sensei Ken who was ex- medalists in Canadian National Karate Federation Championships (Karate Canada). He was sparring with Ai-san as there was a competition coming up soon. Me, Sensei Manzo and Per were doing Kata Matsumora Wanshu and Gojushiho under great instruction of Sensei Kitaoka The dinner was spent in an Italian restaurant in Mitaka city, Tokyo.
Wednesday me, Per and sensei Manzo went to Shibuya for some shopping and sightseeing. It is always fun to go there and it is hard not to be overwhelmed by all the people, the lovely design and the incredible noise that follow you were ever you go in the area. After lunchtime Sensei Oda joined us and we all went to Harajuku to shop and to visit the Meiji Jingu shrine. The shrine and the park surrounding it are so beautiful and impressive. In the evening, we went to Hombu dojo, attending kids class. It is good to see that no matter where you go, kids are kids. They were training hard but it was also time for laughs, play and joy.
Thursday, Sensei Oda were teaching us even more but now with the focus was on Tonfa basic training and kata practice. A few blisters and bruises later we went to Yokohama for lunch and sightseeing in harbor and China town. Such a beautiful place, but with a little bit different atmosphere from Tokyo.
Me and Per-san would like to express our thanks to Grandmaster Sakagami and all the instructors that were helping us improving our kobudo knowledge. And an extra thank you to Sensei Oda for all his help in the dialog with Japan, sharing so much knowledge and for taking such great care of us during these days. Your efforts and dedication are key to Itosu-kai and Kongo-ryu.
Kongo Ryu is the oldest kobudo style in mainland Japan, so full of technical details, that it’s important that we all do what we can to make sure that the style will be preserved for future.
Tomorrow we will be back in Sweden again. Eager to share all the things we have learnt in Japan.
Looking forward to seeing you all in 2021 IKIF International Karatedo Championships in Denmark.
Göran Crafoord and Per Gästgivar
With members of Ryukyu Kobudo Kongo-ryu from the world