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After a long night with friends I pack and head to my final class: Soke’s.
Since I have a 5pm flight I decide to stay for only half the class – but what a half it was!
Soke started by introducing a Historian from Iga. They then bring over a box and begin to go through it, pulling out old notebooks and such. It turns out the owner of these mysterious items was Fujita Seiko; widely regarded as the last Koga Ninjutsu Soke.
He then goes through some of the notes and elaborates on some of the items contained in the various manuals, such as how to create a bridge using nothing but three people.
Then the techniques begin: today it’s something similar to what Nagato was showing. My training partner is a new arrival – and he’s wearing shorts. Considering he only has about 2 months training, he moves well. I then suddenly thought of how Soke talks about doing things naturally; Juan Carlos had no habits, and thus everything was natural.
An added bonus was that we were training next to Furata Sensei. He helped us grasp the techniques, one of which was very close to Tan Geki, except done in a manner that Noguchi had once shown before. Furata then performed the techniques, and gave me a boshiken that almost made me throw up…okay that might be a slight exaggeration but it hurt like hell. He was very nice and funny; he kept saying “gomen” which means “sorry” – he meant it in a playful way. However he did say i was moving correctly and doing well, which was just the kind of pick me up I needed. The best advice he gave us was to not stop – just go smoothly onward and suddenly it started to click.
I had once said that the best thing to do in Soke’s class is to watch the first two movements; after that it’s just him playing with the uke. But I think that’s the point: he always talks about feeling so he simply provides us with a jumping off point, kind of how a picture can inspire a piece of art. That is what I think Furata was alluding to, and again something said over and over by my teach and Soke himself “don’t stop – keep going.”
As I sit here waiting for my flight, I reflect on what has been one of my most frustrating trips to Japan and training. But it wasn’t frustrating because Japan was different so much as I was different; I wanted to show how hard I’ve been training, to reflect well upon my teacher, and to legitimize my position as a teacher for my students. And there is a bit of ego in that – to seek approval.
This is why I felt frustrated with myself and this a lesson I will keep until my next trip here.
Time to go home.