The next day.

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The next day Yoshimura sensei picked me up at my hotel. Before practice we went to Minowa sensei’s Ohaka to pay our respects. We burnt insense and said a brief prayer. It’s always hard emotionally for me visiting Minowa sensei’s resting place but it’s even harder on Yoshimura sensei who was his student for 20 years. As we drove to the dojo Yoshimura sensei commented, “even though I live in Amami, I don’t visit sensei as often as I should…” I don’t feel comfortable posting photos of Minowa sensei’s Ohaka; it just doesn’t feel dignified.

A short drive later I was at Yoshimura sensei’s home dojo practicing Tsuken Bo (sho). It was a bit of a tough slog as some of the techniques were not only new but were performed with a very different set of body mechanics compared to what I had learned in the past. Despite my difficulties Yoshimura sensei patiently walked me through the kata and made corrections along the way. Slowly I was getting a grip on this kata.

During one of our breaks we talked about why there were so many Japanese self-defence force troops on Amami. Apparently they were here to excavate earth and sand for the new US military base to be built in Nago. Things started to make sense as I had seen signs all over Amami welcoming the troops as well as roving vans spouting the same message. He also mentioned that there was talk to expanding the self-defence force base in Koniya in the coming years. I was saddened and angered to hear this. Amami is a quiet and peaceful island and it didn’t need this set of disruption.

I also go the chance to review the bo versus bo two-person set. Sensei had made some small changes and wanted me to learn them before I returned to Canada. The nice thing about these marathon training sessions is that you can not only work on technique and kata in great detail but also work on a variety of things. So I was able to get corrections on specific parts of the bo vs. eku set and the Bo vs Kama set.

Yoshimura sensei also decided to teach me Sesoko no kon, and this is really surprised me. It’s the second last kata you learn in the Bo curriculum; the last being Soeishi no kon. Needless to say Sesoko no kon is well above my pay grade, but sensei joked again that I had better learn it in case he dies! Heaven forbid! He joked that I will probably be the only person to know this kata in Canada. Who knows for sure but I was honoured that he thought enough of me to teach me this kata.

We had trained from 1:00 pm to 5:30 pm and he thought that it was enough. He told me to head back to my hotel, grab a shower and a bite to eat. He’d see me again tomorrow.