Thursday, 1st March 2007

MSMAS ~ in the States again !!

Yet again, MSMAS have been on their travels again, once more back to the USA ...


A Team, led by Lee Fahey Sensei, enjoyed the benefit of 1st class instruction of a vigorous and traditional nature ....

This is a mix of 2 Reports to give a taste of  what appears to have been an amazing trip...
Resume: The whole event was obviously a very different vibe to an Adult seminar. Hanshi seemed happy that it was actually all kicking off  as he had apparently fought very hard with Honbu for this to happen and if the reaction of the children to each other was anything to go by then this Summer (WYBS) will be more than a resounding success. It would be wonderful for a lot more of our Juniors to have the chance to experience this too!
DAY ONE ~ Friday 
Nerves were jangling on that first morning!
We were collected and brought to Hanshi's own home, stopping in line to bow to the house.
Honbu Dojo is in Hanshi's back garden just across from his back door, by the entrance is part of a tree that a few years ago was split in a big storm. When it fell it missed the house & Dojo so Hanshi had a cut taken from the main trunk placed at the Dojo door which is now covered in moss which indicates that it remains a living being and has great energy. When he counted the rings it was the same age as him. Honbu Dojo is a wooden floored building, vibrant with the energy contained within it and full of light. Proper formal seiza bow to go in, talked us through the family heirlooms, photos and painting, the dragon on the cover of one edition of his book (just astounding in its beauty and power), banner with the handprints and signatures of outstanding students plus wooden frame with wooden tags hanging in with the names of other students, then a long talk on metsuke. We were then each given a weapon to hold. The energy in the Dojo was tangible & I felt an incredible desire to cry when the children were given their weapons. It was indescribable. Hanshi then took us over to the side to talk about his personal weapons and gave each of us a different weapon to hold, swords from 13th & 14th century. Lee was offered an 11th century sword to gaze into and then got us all to look into the 'ha' while waiting to have the weapon taken from us. Oh my God.... It was so emotional (I had to fight the tears as the boys were given theirs) and felt so honoured, an amazing moment ~ could have come home at that moment and it would have been more than enough!!!
We then presented the MSMAS gift to Hanshi in the sunshine outside the Dojo.
Lunch to the sound of bird song, Hanshi's wife served us whilst explaining a display of dolls for 'Girls Day'  as the following day was 'Girls Day' in Japan. On the top shelf were 2 figures of a bride & groom, then musicians, nobles and warriors. There is also a 'Boys Day' in May. Hanshi then came back and sat with us to give the boys a detailed preparation for the mental attitude they would have to assume with a question as to why circles are most important. Hanshi listened carefully to each answer, nodding and saying "that is good" or "that is a valid point " when he really wanted the answer that the circle is most efficient, but at no stage was anyone made to feel that their answer was wrong. Then we presented Mrs. Hamada with her own gift.
Bruce Myers was kind enough to take us to see the Japanese Garden Hanshi had built in honour of the sister city of Miyazaki, which was just beautiful. We also saw the hundred cherry trees planted in honour of his parents and the goodwill between the two cities which will be an astounding sight when in full bloom. Then off to the beach where we went into the water and promptly out again (Brrrrr!!!).
Arrival at Granby High School to an Opening Lecture (Hanshi's own students, children and adults alike have to learn facts, names, principles and are tested on them regularly). The MSMAS Team were welcomed with massive applause which Hanshi allowed to go on for AGES! It was wonderful to see the three flags up - the American, Japanese and British. After training a pizza for kids, then off to hotel with Lee Sensei guiding us with his usual care and attention.
DAY TWO ~ Saturday 
Next morning, 'up and at them' from the word "go", breakfast first then off to training.
Opening Ceremony, then a fascinating Lecture on mountain, forest, fire and wind relating to properties of Karate do Kata. The ladies were whisked off for Battojutsu form practice with Merell Sensei, fascinating, making forms facing a partner really brought home the whole concept of metsuke and gave everything so much meaning, seven forms in one day. Merell Sensei told us our focus was excellent, then a blood-draining moment as Hanshi appeared and told us to take their Iaito to show him what we had been shown .....
The whole day's training was spent listening to the breathing and kiai of the Juniors across the hall. We were exhausted just listening to it and thought they would be wrecks when we saw them at the end of the day, but when we were called into watch them perform what they had been doing all day ~ WOW !!
Their energy was even greater than when they had started that day !
Our boys did amazingly considering just how much learning they had been given to undertake in just one day!!
Another dinner and just to see the Juniors joining together as if they had known each other for ages was a joy. It brought an understanding of just what it was the whole World Youth Butoku Sai will be about. A joining of children from all over the world, experiencing together the teachings of Budo, sharing their efforts and supporting each other. A worldwide family of friendship to keep the values and spirit of the Samurai way of life going (hard work, facing challenges, confronting their limits, total respect, serving their communities, supporting each other and camaraderie). Inspiring.
Back to the Hotel with Hanshi and a meeting with him. Hanshi asked Lee Sensei to sit by his side and then asked us each in turn how we felt the day had gone, how we felt we had done, what we felt we needed to work on. What a wonderful opportunity to learn even more from him and share in his energy 'up close and personal' !
Hanshi talked of how important it was to share these teachings with our youth and spent some time discussing the abilities of the youth at our Dojo and tried to find out how many could come over. He talked of spiritual attitudes, not to train in only one way and think that that is the only way. To try to be understanding of others and show graciousness, not criticism. He then went on to talk of Judo primarily and how he could work in some time for our boys to demonstrate some of their own skills at that the next day. He made it very clear he was looking forward to seeing ALL present in the Summer and Lee Sensei to return.
DAY THREE  ~ Sunday
All packed up and ready to go after breakfast. Early start for the High School. Warm-ups in the sunshine with some of the USA Juniors then ushered around the back of the building to Hanshi standing outside, hakama flowing in the breeze, under a tree, whilst Juniors and Lee Sensei made uchi-komi drills under the trees.  Inside the gym had been set up with mats for more uchi-komi training, then into main gym for initial talk. Everyone then told to run back in for our boys to demonstrate their skills with his students. All over, lovely appreciation from the children for ours - a couple of the US Sensei even came over to praise their skill and efforts. Back to main hall for their last bit of training and then before we knew it, Awards !
All our boys were honoured with YushuSho along with Hanshi own Juniors.
Lee Sensei was honoured with 'Outstanding Instructor' plus a copy of Hanshi's new book to massive applause.
Final hugs with the children and all gathered together to shout "ay ay o" over and over again, jumping up and down and getting closer and closer - FANTASTIC!!
Off out again, changed and then whisked off for Hanshi to take us to lunch!
Hanshi talked of Judo, asking our Juniors what they had thought of it and then turned to the adults and talked of competition and how the essence of Budo can be lost through the goal of winning. Our Adults replied to make it clear how important it was to Payne Kyoshi that the children are taught and expound the essence of what Hanshi was saying, as opposed to the trying to win everything.
Hanshi talked again of how important it was to have as many young participants as possible be introduced to DNBK.
Lunch over, a lovely farewell "domo arigato gozaimashita" outside the restaurant and a big smile from Hanshi, then off to the MacArthur Memorial and finally the airport.
To sum up :
Bibi ~ What a brilliant trip, etched on my memory and in my heart for ever. I really feel that our Dojo have close family over there and think it was wonderful for Hanshi to see some of us 'up close and personal' and get a real feel for who we are and where we come from. I only hope that we left him with some of the warmth and respect that we felt for him and his Dojo members.
Sarah ~ It has been an amazing experience. Our Juniors were great, proud of what they achieved and their etiquette was superb -  even one of the US YuDansha that we were exemplary role models as we lined up in silence waiting to go back to the Hotel. Our Juniors have cemented friendships & Email addresses exchanged. We had only been left an hour when one of our Juniors said that he missed them already. Such an intense weekend. Much to think about, much learned and much experience gained. I feel honoured to have been given the opportunity to be part of such an Event & look forward to returning in July to revisit with those I now look upon as my friends 'across the pond'. Lee has been an absolute rock this weekend, we all felt supported, he was caring, professional, encouraging and just perfect ~ a perfect person to send on the trip.


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