For my CIP, I knew I wanted to do something involving martial arts. I had done Kendo for a year in college and had train in Karate for many years through junior high school and high school. While in Kyoto I unfortunately was not able to do a Kendo circle, as they were unable to lend me any gear. When finding a Karate club, I wanted to find a place that, given the many variations of karate, was something I was somewhat familiar with. I ended up joining Kyoto University’s Seido Karate circle. It meets twice a week for a two hour practice, which is much more laid back than several clubs I found that met for 3 or 4 times a week with longer practice times.
I found everybody to be very nice. My Kaiwa partner is also a member which is very nice. As the official University teams are off limits to non students, the circle has a large number of foreigners as well. Despite this, I appreciate that the lessons are taught only in Japanese.
The instructor is named Yamashiki Sensei. He often tries to speak English to me. Although there is an instructor assigned for our club, being a circle it is largely run by the students and in particular the club leader or bucho. While the flexibility of the club is nice, it could be better organized. In the US, we trained in kata which is a sequence of predetermined movements. That practice was done as a group with detailed instruction from the teacher. However Kyoto University’s circle is much more focused on kumite or partner training.
Japanese club culture is very strong. After deciding on a particular club or circle, you are expected to maintain a degree of loyalty to the group. However being accepted into the group is very rewarding.
I am looking forward to the end of the year’s bonenkai which is typical for Japanese clubs or businesses.
Training twice a week in Karate has been a good addition to my stay in Kyoto.