Part 2 of Postcards from Japan



Part 2 of Postcards from Japan, the next installment of Alec Dunphys trip to the home of judo.


And so it is, I make the trip to the Osaka Kodokan dojo, it's at this moment when I leave the house, I have to deal with rush hour on the metro system and number of changes all in Japanese! I hope I wrote my instruction down correctly.


I've decided on the advice of sensei to rest my ribs, the blow I took, from Mr. 3rd Dan, was a bit more serious than I or sensei first thought. But off I go, with Gi thrown over my shoulder. Heavy strapping for the ribs. Just in case sensei has called ahead to warn them. As much as saving face here is a cultural thing, practicing with an injury is considered crazy.


Upon arrival, the sensei checks out my ribs and agrees I need to rest, I'm still invited in to watch.


Blown away with the level of judo, from 16year olds and seniors, the dedication is great. Each observation from the sensei is listened to with upmost respect.


And so the session is finished and asked what do I think, how is the judo in the UK, and when will I be back to train with them. I explain once I have recovered I'll be there. They all smile, not sure if that's a cant wait to smash your smile or a cant wait for you to join us and make friends....!


I've now got 3 days free, a national holiday on Monday, giving me time to rest the ribs. It's time to visit the sites and sounds of Osaka. The house mates all invite me out for a few beers. The next days is a little hazy, not like the Poland trip! No cigars were smoked or vodka drunk, but Ash I did manage to hold the breakfast down!


I will say... if ever you get the chance to visit Japan, Osaka is a must stop off. Fantastic people and great city lots of photos taken, I'll show the show on my return.


It's now Monday, checking the emails, when sensei emails me and asks me to come to the dojo, one to check the ribs and 2, I'm not training with him tonight! I must go to a high school and to be there by 4pm, one of his students has invited me to his high school judo club. Now I think ok this sounds good light training.......hum! Oh how wrong I was.


So Okumura meets me at his main entrance, nice lad. 13-14yrs old (110kg...seriously!) I'm walked into school no signing in. Introduced to his friends and about everyone else in the school. As I enter the dojo, I'm greeted by the school team, well I thought this is the senior or college team.... Got that wrong the oldest is 16-17 the youngest is 13! Sensei is introduced, gruff old school type, quick check of the ribs and I am declared fit for light training only... All I can say thank god for the ribs.... If these kids came to our senior class we would have some problems and very bruised egos.

The session was 4 hours, typical at high school, randori was hard but fair, I survived due to my size and weight with the smaller guys and the others....take it from me, when they enter, you don't feel a thing until you’re on the mat.


At the end of the session I am asked to take part in ne waza, normally here they never do ne waza, but Okumura informed of my session and how I got out of San gaku, he's interested to see. Again Tam all credit to you, I stole your script for this one (not the same I repeat it but I did my best for you). The guy I'm paired with is no.2 in the region, built like a brick out house and only 16 or 17yrs old!!! All are impressed and sensei instructs all to practice for 30minutes, I'm asked to instruct and assess!


End of the session I'm shot to pieces, 4 hours and these guys are just breaking into a sweat (I'm almost flat on my back screaming for water) all are smiling and practicing their English. What a fantastic group of lads and I've invited them all to Croydon Judo club (!) if they ever come to London... Email addresses have been exchanged!


It's great to see a bunch of school lads and girls who all love the sport and are excited that I came to their school and class. I ask the sensei if I can return. His answer is a gruff yes!


And so, it continues.., train at the dojo each morning for 1-2hours a day, either with a partner doing uchi komi, ne waza or on my own on the straps. Sensei Matsuura coming downstairs to observe between clients at his clinic, nodding or shaking his head silently. Tape is marked on the floor by now. Feet here! After he takes me for treatment. He doesn't want me to overdo it. All my night sessions as light until he is happy I have recovered fully.


All the best