Encounters

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Knowing that I would not be able to access machines at work before the New Year, I posted entries for the 26th through the 29th on Monday. Our pension in the mountains has a high-speed connection so I am continuing to post entries in advance (today being the 27th) and keeping the positive message agenda.

When I arrived at the pension there were a couple kids running around the halls and stairs. They gave me some peculiar looks, for which the reason soon became clear. They are my students from Takaoka Elementary School (高岡小学校). You may wonder what kind of teacher I am if I can’t remember my students faces. In my defense I will first point out that I have about 1700 students, and I will add in that I have only met their classes three times since April. Anyhow, knowing only one person on the trip can be a little intimidating, so it was nice to add two more (somewhat) familiar faces to the mix.

Another friend of Tanaka-sensei showed up. He has a ready smile and a powerful, yet relaxed, physique and posture. During introductions and discussions about work I found out he is an instructor for the jieitai (自衛隊), or Self-Defense Force (SDF). In Japan there is officially no army (軍隊・guntai), navy (海軍・kaigun), or air force(空軍・kuugun). After WWII Allied forces ‘aided’ Japan in the writing of their constitution and it expressed that there could be no standing military. This was reinterpreted when the Korean Conflict ramped up because America wanted to move our forces out of Japan and into Korea. At that time the SDF was created.

Initially I had some confusion about his area of instruction, but I got it straight eventually. Juukendou (銃剣道) is bayonet fighting (with the bayonet attached to a rifle), which he has been practicing for about 25 years and was national champion 19 years ago. This sport is really a modified version of kendou (剣道) – often spelled ‘kendo’ – which is the traditional sword-fighting sport which uses rattan swords. Further discussion revealed he also instructs for juukenkakutou (銃剣格闘) which uses the same weapon, but includes various butt strikes: kakutou means grapple or scuffle. He admitted to being the number one instructor in tankendou (短剣道) which is fighting with a bayonet that is not mounted. Apparently this is a skill that is fading-away, so a highly skilled instructor is a rare commodity. Based on discussions about the particulars of his job, I am guessing that he is also the primary instructor in the other categories as well; however, strong, well-adjusted individuals are often known for humility.

He also is studying daitouryuu (大東流), which he described as one of the parents of aikido (合気道). He likes it very much because it is very much about smoothness and fluidity. These are two qualities that have been helping us out on the slopes. It just so happens that he is a ski instructor for ski instructors and he has been freely dispensing lessons to us. Even though the base is almost non-existent and the fresh snowfall is barely more solid than rain, his tips have brought us great joy.

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2 Responses to “Encounters”

  1. Keven Says:

    Sheesh! You post in advance and I post post-dated posts! You are too efficient!! 🙂

  2. びっくり Says:

    I don’t think it is ‘efficiency’, just a commitment (or obstinacy). My loyal readers (both of them) leaned on me a bit early on and I decided to make the time commitment to get posts up. Fortunately, my current job doesn’t provide much pressure around holidays and term boundaries.

    It has turned out to be good writing practice for me; it is fun to recollect some of the things I have seen; and (with any luck) it is amusing for the readers.

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