August 29, 2013

2013 International Study Session (Hombu, Japan)

** Disclaimer: This post contains photos that display the manji ( 卍 ) - a symbol widely used in Japan to express Buddhist ideals. Due to misinterpretation of the manji in the West it is no longer used in Shorinji Kempo. **

Finishing up in Osaka our next stop was Tadotsu, Kagawa for the Shorinji Kempo International Study Session (Aug 27-29 inclusive) at Hombu.

We arrived in Marugame around noon on Aug 26 and those of us who were not participating in gradings had the opportunity to visit the major historical sites of Shorinji Kempo in Tadotsu.

Reception room
Kongo Zen shrine
Some examples included Kaiso's original dojo, Hombu Doin and Kaiso's home. It was thrilling to experience first hand the places where Kaiso and the "founding fathers" of Shorinji Kempo built this wonderful art.


Hombu Doin
Olsson sensei (Sweden) and Williams sensei (UK) try some moves in Kaiso's original dojo
In the evening we ended up (not surprisingly) at the famous Ikkaku Restaurant in Marugame for the best chicken dinner on Earth!
Waiting for the Ikkaku magic!
US Federation members mid-feast!
Training in the Study Session itself was tremendous despite the high temperatures and humidity that were affecting most of Japan at that time.

Onogi sensei (ouch!)
Yamasaki sensei - ryu nage
The 3rd Dan and Higher group was mostly taught by Kawashima sensei (Hombu) and Onogi sensei (Saitama). We were also fortunate to get extra one-on-one help from Yamasaki sensei (Hombu) and Yajima sensei (Saitama) throughout the sessions and a special lesson on Day 3 from Aosaka sensei (France).

Kawashima sensei explains...
With Peter Monk sensei (New Zealand) - a pioneer of WSKO
Much of the training focused on ensuring basic items were clearly established and then used this foundation for improving our skills as examiners and judges.

With Johan Frendin (Sweden) who successfully passed his 5th dan exam despite a battle with major illness. Get well soon Johan - you are GREAT!
One special feature of the Study Session was an optional Hokei Seminar on the teachings of Kongo Zen by Urata sensei.

Getting ready to party!
On the evening of Day 2 we had a good ol' fashioned Hombu party!  Branches and Federations performed skits on the main stage as we talked with our many international friends, old and new.
"And if you buy one now we'll give you this second one absolutely free!" Helping (?) Uebayashi-san at the concession stand.
More photos of the activities at Hombu can be found here (see "Fourth Day" onward).  

Thank you to all the Hombu staff for all their hard work (and patience!) in hosting this fabulous event.


August 25, 2013

2013 Shorinji Kempo World Taikai in Osaka

Preliminary rounds, 2013 World Taikai

Back in Japan! This time the occasion was the 2013 Shorinji Kempo World Taikai in Osaka at the massive Osaka Municipal Central Gymnasium.

Women's Dan Category expertly judged by Hiate sensei.
The World Taikai is held every four years and, as the name implies, is a gathering for members from across the world. Represented were members from every country from Finland to New Zealand including our very own Canada.

Men's Dan Embu
 The first day of the Taikai (Aug 24) consisted of preliminary rounds along with a Judges Meeting.

The evening of Aug 24 was the Taikai Eve Reception - a lavish event held at the Hotel New Otani Osaka. During the Reception the US, Spanish and Canadian Federations received Distinguished Service Awards from WSKO President Yuuki So.

The US, Canadian and Spanish Federations received Distinguished Service Awards at Taikai Eve Festival
Reunion of the Hiate sensei deshi group!
The main part of the Taikai was held on Sunday Aug 25 and included Embu competition from Kyu to Dan ranks as well as a Dantai (group) Embu event.  More photos of the Taikai and the results by category can be found here.

Perhaps one of the most memorable parts of the event was the epic closing performance by members of the Osaka Shorinji Kempo Federation (hosts of the event).  Their performance was an interpretation of the theme "chaos to harmony" by using embu on a massive Kurosawa-esque scale.

Another wonderful part of the Taikai was getting to see former Toronto members Asuka Tomari and Takashi Kariya (and family) once again. Asuka was competing in the Dan Level Men and Women's Embu category. You can see her embu below.


Reunion with Toronto alumnus Asuka - now based in Nara.

Reunion with Toronto alumnus Takashi Kariya (and genki Takeru!) - now based in Fukuoka.
In addition, the opportunity to see friends and teachers from Japan and the rest of the world once again was truly great. It'd be tremendous to have such an opportunity more frequently.

We wish to thank Yoshida sensei, the members of the Osaka Shorinji Kempo Federation and WSKO Hombu for all their hard work in putting on such a memorable event.