The train arrived at 16:30 in Prague. Thinking that the first evening would be an informal keiko, I walked through the old town square before taking the subway and bus to the dojo, in order to feel the vibe of Prague once more (this is my 4th time being there). By the time I arrived the sensei's and organizers were already giving the opening speech, with the participants sitting in two rows in seiza postion. So I changed very quickly and joined the crowd who were warming up. At this moment I started to regret being late, because I'd like to know more about Ozawa-Sensei's personal background etc.
The Old Town Square
I saw that Ozawa-Sensei and Meguro-Sensei (both 7th Dan Kyoshi) were in the middle, to the left of Ozawa-Sensei were Demski-Sensei (7th Dan Kyoshi) and Potrafski-Sensei (7th Dan) from Germany, Ducarme-Sensei (7th Dan) from Belgium; to the right of Meguro-Sensei were Kustosz (5th Dan) from Poland, Kuroda and Iinuma (both 4th Dan) from Ozawa-Sensei's dojo.
During the suburi-drill Ozawa-Sensei reminded everyone the key-points of doing suburi: back straight, eyes looking forward, and big swings etc. After that, he called the yudansha out as motodachi, with whom all the others performed kirikaeshi and uchikomigeiko. After that the yudansha did the same exercise with each other.
Important points of the Kihon-geiko: one thing that was stressed repeatedly was the breathing,
- Kirikaeshi: (1) men-strike, (2) breath, then 4 sayu-men forwards and 5 backwards, then men-strike, (3) pause and breath again (4) repeat (2) and (3).
- Men-uchi: (1) Kiai and let the air out of the chest (2) breath, followed by three men-uchi with one breathe, (3) pause and breath (4) single men-uchi.
Waiting at the end was of course the jigeiko. I stuck to the advice that Stephan told me, first Japanese Senseis, then European Senseis, and forget the rest. But I screw up my himo (strings) as I was tying my Men, since I was trying to rush too much in order to be at the front of the queue. The queue for Ozawa-Sensei was already too long so I queued for Meguro-Sensei. He had an extremely strong centre that none of my shikake-waza works. For example, after my harai and going for men, he could always perform suriage-waza, like my harai wasn't there at all. The next I jigeikoed with Ozawa-Sensei. I found, in fact, less people queued up for the two Japanese 7th dan Sensei. Persumably because many were too shy to keiko with such high profile senseis.
I began all my jigeiko with a men-uchi, since in Ozawa-Sensei's book I read that sometimes it is appropriate to do this, so that the motodachi knows your level, and can stimulate you accordingly. During our jigeiko, I blocked too much that when he striked my kote I tried to defend it (too late) then he went for men and I defended men (too late), so this funny panicing situation continued for more than I'd like. We finished off with kakari-geiko, which was mind-blowing. When we received my taiatari he pushed me off with the shinai on my shoulder, as a result my balance was totally lost when going backwards, which meant that during my hiki-waza the opponent is still dictating. I must instead find a way to take controll instead. This was the end of the jigeiko. I went up to both senseis for advices but they gave none to anyone except saying arigatogosaimasu.
After taking a shower I stood at the entrance of the sports hall while Ozawa-sensei was also there. We nodded and exchanged smiles. I might have said thank you for the training or something, he then told me: "I would like to see more of you." And I said "Hye!" Not sure why he said that, but that felt GOOD! He sat down on the bench, at which point no one was talking to him, so I took the opportunaty to initiate a conversation. So, I went: "Ano.. sensei, do you know someone called Vivian Yung? She says hi to Sensei"-- Yes, Vivian, thanks for providing me with a "chat-up line". He tilted his head while I explained more, and remembered. He then said that he might see her in Taipei during the WKC. I told him that I'm originally from Taipei, and the conversation continued from there until he felt with the organizers and other senseis for dinner.
A group of people consists of Czech and German kenshi went out for a drink. The first two pubs didn't have enough space so we had to keep on walking, until at some point the guys from Leipzig decided that's enough, and since I stayed overnight at the dojo (not the one where the event took place) with them, I left with them and went to one of the previous pubs and had a drink, which was very relaxing. Czech beer is good!