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  • Question about contacting a university dojo

    Hey everyone,

    In a little over a month I'll be leaving to study for a semester at Sophia University (上智大学) in Tokyo. Now my dojo here in the States already has connections with a dojo in Tokyo, and they'll be writing ahead of me and would like me to visit there as much as possible. But that's in Machida City and I'll be living in Bunkyo-ku so visiting more than once a week isn't really within my budget.

    So since I'll be studying at Sophia, perhaps I could practice with their kendo club (this would be the time to inform me this is either a good idea or a bad idea).

    I'm also not really sure about the proper way to go about contacting them. Found the club's website, so actually contacting them isn't a problem, it's how to go about doing it that I'm not sure about. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

  • #2
    I have almost no actual experience in this subject, but I do know, and as you more than likely do as well, be as polite as you know how. I'm guessing that that's the only thing you need to do, other than dialing the number of course.

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    • #3
      If you're studying at that university, there should be no trouble with you studying with the university kendo club. You might ask your sensei if he/she would be willing to give you a letter of introduction to their sensei.

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      • #4
        there are a few places where they wouldn't allow you to practice (unless you're extremely good), but they are few and far between, and considering Sophia's position in the kendo world I'd be extremely surprised if they were one of them. So in short, practicing there shouldn't be a problem. As for contacting them, just be straightforward and as polite as you can. It's pretty much a given that when you arrive you'll make all sorts of cringeworthy mistakes (but then again, half the time I wonder whether a normal Japanese person would know how to behave in a uni kendo dojo) that you won't even know about until after you've done it, so counter this by showing a good attitude - always be on time, don't skip practice, be friendly. In other words, just behave well. If they see that your intent is serious, then that'll easily cover over any mistakes you might make. Have a good time!

        ps I haven't actually trained at Sophia so I can't say this for sure, but while you will obviously need to make some kind of appropriate greeting to the coach/shihan when you meet them, most uni clubs in Japan are very much managed by the students themselves, so its also very important to make sure that you say hello to the committee (kanbu) and know who they are.
        Last edited by Kingofmyrrh; 17th February 2005, 12:47 PM.

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        • #5
          Thanks for the advice guys.

          I'll contact the Sophia Club being as polite as I can, and I'll ask my sensei for a letter of introduction as well.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by webjunkie401
            But that's in Machida City and I'll be living in Bunkyo-ku so visiting more than once a week isn't really within my budget.
            I often go to Naruse Sports Centre which is in Machida. it's 2 minutes from machida on the yokohama line and if you can go it's well worth it. practice is on friday and sunday from 1930 to 2030 and sometimes there are maybe 15-20 6th dan and above sensei that go and about 40-50 people in total. it only costs 300yen.

            i can appreciate that it may be a bit of a trek but if you can go you should check it out.

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            • #7
              That sounds awesome. I'll have to make it out there.

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              • #8
                train REALLY hard before you go... your stamina level needs to be higher due to heat and it would be a shame to drop with exhaustion after 20 minutes with such a good opportunity.... and buy some spare kit if you can, its a lot cheaper there than back home and you can guarantee the fit a lot more. I had some made that fits me perfectly. The kote were 100 for hand stitched, deerskin palms etc. I am the envy of my friends with these! Shame they get bashed so much....

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                • #9
                  Actually, I just got here a couple days ago. The dormitory where I am staying also has kendo and iaido clubs and they have already told me they would be more than happy to have me join them. Have my first iaido practice tonight and I am looking forward to it.

                  The weather at the moment, is alternating between being pleasantly warm and a bit cold. More often it is a bit cold, but I guess that will change in a while.

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                  • #10
                    Hmmm, I didn't mean to imply that I'm doing iaido for the first time tonight. This will be my first practice in Japan.

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                    • #11
                      how'd it go? hot or what?

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                      • #12
                        It's just started heating up a bit during the afternoon so it's getting hotter. The Sophia Kendo Team has been very welcoming and I have been practicing with them for about two weeks. There have been a couple of really hard practices, but I haven't needed to take a break. Today they took me to a kendo shop in Ikebukuro and when they noticed I wanted to get a zekken (I never bothered to get one) asked me to please put the university's name on it. I also thought the fact I could see and touch the equipment before buying it was awesome. I am definitely stocking up before heading home. Just as good, the owner of the shop said that after I returned to the States I could fax orders to him. I was just wowed by the number of choices, and I did a double take when they asked me what color tsuru I would like on the shinai I was buying.

                        The club has also made it pretty clear that next month (which is when I'm eligible) I am testing for shodan. So aiming to be ready for that.

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                        • #13
                          Oops, sorry, wrote that right after getting back in from a night with the Kendo Team. Was a tad under the influence.

                          Iaido went well, I suppose. The club hasn't had a sensei in about two years at least. From what I can gather he moved to Brazil. A few of the senior students know some kata from the Shoden set, so they are at the same place I am. Yet, they're technique I'm not sure how to put it, it's a bit scary. Most have almost no sayabiki at all, and in MSR that's a big problem. Lot's of screeching coming from the saya (luckily they are using mogitoh, but the saya show the wear). They have also forgotten a lot of reiho.

                          Don't get me wrong, they have lots of spirit, and with a sensei they would begin to show improvement instantly. I'm going to talk to them about stepping up the search for a sensei.

                          So Kendo in Tokyo is completely and utterly awesome. Iaido, we'll see. I'm waiting for the go ahead from my sempai back home to go and visit their sensei in Machida-shi. Have my letter of introduction in a safe place and ready to go.

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                          • #14
                            I know the kendo is good, I was not surprised to be honest...after all if the club has a couple of teachers at 7dan+ the standard goes up a lot quicker than being taught by, say, a 3dan by himself.

                            I can ask for an iaido teacher if you wish, a 7dan friend of mine, Isshikki sensei, teaches in one of the Tokyo Uni's. He is excellent, (not sure if he is going for ZNKR 8dan again in May), but at his level he will more more than enough for you anyway!

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                            • #15
                              Mr. Hamilton,



                              Sorry for the delay. Thank you very much for your offer. If you could ask Isshikki-sensei that would be simply amazing.



                              At the moment I am waiting for a message from my sempai back in the states about when I can visit his sensei in Machida-shi. Before I left the states he gave me a letter of introduction, and just sent letters to two of the sensei at the dojo. The only problem is that I live in Bunkyo-ku, and at least while classes are in session (and for an exchange student at Sophia University that means pretty much everyday except for the weekend, I really envy my Japanese friends that have multiple weekdays without classes) getting out to Machida-shi more than once a week will be difficult. Still, with the exception of my dorms Iaido club, Japan is proving to be the budo mecca that everyone at home told me it would turn out to be.

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