Postcards from Japan

Postcards from Japan

First instalment of what I hope to be many updates from our very own Alec Dunphy currently training in Japan. Send 11 October.


“Hope all is well at the club!! Missing me already?

So here is the 1st instalment of the trip so far:

With jet lag really set in I make the short trip 2 stops on the train to the dojo, as I jump on the train, a I hear my name. It's Sophie (one of the house mate who also is here for judo) we both sit together and talk about my first visit!!! Piece of advice don't enter the women only carriage. As Sophie explains to me and to the rest of the carriage!!! Who all laugh at the stupid gaijin!!!!!

It's then a short walk, the nerves have kicked in and the jet lag is not helping.

Sensei Matsuura greets me with a big smile and welcomes me into a small but personal dojo that reeks of history, skill & a warmth that means ….. time to learn.

I fill in my application form and am accepted as a member. There and then ( just waiting for my membership card) insurance is paid, the treatment clinic is right above us, which is handy but a little worrying. Sensei is not only an 8th Dan but also a medical professional.

So a quick introduction and it's in to a light warm up ..... And I mean not a Mr Tim Bass warm up, once warmed up straight into uchi komi. I am pared with a 3rd Dan, he's the only guy my size and build, quiet but got that deadly look.  It's here that sensei make the first observation…... “lift your arms….. straighten your back”,  he wants ten each side. Then it's my partners turn. WOW!!!!! Bang bang bang.  Light but perfect contact each time. Again my turn, this time he helps me, arm is not making contact correctly.

After 30 minutes of uchi Komi on just 3 throws, it's randori. While this is happening I am off to one side being taught by sensei and his uke (Mr 3rd Dan), harai goshi (sensei thinks this is the right throw for me). Sensei calls me for randori, I am put up against a shodan (1st Dan), now we both take a grip (not like home where you fight for a grip here you take hold), and he's straight in, but I step over and try hiza guruma, bang and he goes down!!!! It goes like this for 2 minutes, not bad I thought, and so again and again, a couple times I go down. Sensei watches and nods his head, sometimes shakes his head with my technique or of the other student should have known better. But then  .... Mr 3rd Dan steps in. This time he fights for grip, we move,  I try, he turns looks me in the eye and bang..... Uchi mata, I didn't even feel it happen, until, I was on my back and his knee hit my ribs, my breath has been knocked out of me.. Instant pain, he looks and smiles but offers his hand to help me up, then shows concerns as my face is white with pain.

Every one say well done you lasted a long time with him, not all bad then!! So we finish off with ne waza … and it is repeated. But this time, Mr 3rd Dan starts first, I give him a run for his money, I even get out of his San gaku (thanks Tam, a little tick from the Poland trip), at this, I am asked to show how it works, again Tam wish you had been here for that one. I move on to the others and it's now I am in control, sensei explains that they don't practice ne-waza to much, but from now on he will spend more time. This he says is clear from the way I held all his guys back, without using my strength, size and energy. My technique was hard to understand as I constantly change and move, Przemek  thank you for  crushing me and making me move more when training with you!!

Each person comes up and shakes my hand and welcomes me to the club, I turn the thanks and say each one of them is very good, which they are, technique is fantastic, but strength was more on my side, which they say and recognise. I have some work to do on my technique, I have been given 3 to master and make as my core skill set. As the other warm down Mr 3rd Dan take me to one side and shows me more entry's into my throw, explain how the body should make contact and where the feet should be and where my feet are currently and then again he asks how I got out of his San gaku, we spend another 30 minutes doing this, at this he tells me he looks forward to next session. WOW.. he enjoyed sparing with me.

Thought out the night... Sophie and Sabrina both Dan grade, the guys a run for their money. Both are fantastic judoka, humble and yet hungry to learn.


I think I am going to like this club and the 71 year old, who if I wasn't told he was 71 I would never have believed it,  Mr 5th Dan, fantastic always laughing and always ready to get on the mat and give us young guys a lesson how to land correctly!!!!!

Then, as tradition seems to follow me here it's off to the pub for a few beers and something to eat.

Off to the Osaka kodokan tomorrow to train or watch, I'll see how the ribs feel, sensei clinic has a permanent booking for me!!!!!

Group photo attached. Mr 3rd Dan is in the blue Gi !!!!