by George Hyde, Euston dojo
On Friday 28th Feb around 100 kenshi from all over the country set off by train, car, coach, minibus, and if they were particularly lucky, plane, to converge on the Glasgow University grounds for a welcome reception that was to set the tone for the whole weekend. Those of us who had been in the BSKF long enough to be familiar with our Glaswegian hosts' enthusiastic approach to social interaction were not disappointed, and the reception served as a welcome introduction to those that weren't. One of the more notable events of the evening was Guy Wardrop's stand-up routine which included an unrelenting attack on everyone from south of the border, thinly disguised as the weekend's itinerary. We then found to our delight that a large number number of these wonderful people had agreed to take a bunch of drunken strangers into their homes for the weekend.
Saturday, whilst being a little fuzzy for some, was made all the more enlightening with a number of notable technical revelations from Sensei Mizuno. Those of you lucky enough to attend the recent seminars with the visiting Hombu staff in London and the South Coast may be familiar with the Juho teaching of Tsuzushi [ed - should be kuzushi], Otoshi, Hazushi which translates loosely as "Draw Balance, Drop & Pull". Following comprehensive instruction in this theory, Sensei Mizuno then introduced us to the same principles in Goho. If that sound a little strange to some of you, anyone that attended the seminar would be happy to elucidate. It brings a new dimension of understanding to Goju Ittai, the Five Elements of Atemi, Sen and many other aspects of accepted technical theory. It was during this all day session that the true value of these seminars became clear. Rather than spending the entire day covering lots of individual techniques in an extended Kihon, we were able to concentrate on a small number of principles and then given the freedom to examine their application across a variety of techniques.
When the Saturday session was over the gathered masses hardly had the chance to draw breath let alone feel tired before it was time for the ceilidh (or 'kayleigh' if you prefer). After a great dinner, the tables were cleared away and the band struck up a variety of tunes to which our hosts (in full battle dress) ensured we all danced ourselves to a standstill. Aside from making complete fools of ourselves on the dance floor, Gay Gordon's and Dashing White Sergeants abound, it was a great opportunity to get to know everyone else in attendence.
Sunday was a time for major upsets in the Randori and Embu competitions. Firstly, City University with little more than an hour preparation under the iron fist of Kirsty Davis managed to sweep the board in the Dantai Embu Competition! It was as if the competition hadn't bothered to turn up.
The second upset came in the Kumi Embu competition which, particularly given the proximity of the national and international Taikais was sadly under-represented. Three pairs took part, 2nd kyu, 1st kyu and shodan. The audience, spellbound by the shodan performance couldn't believe the massive 10 point penalty suffered for going a matter of seconds over time, pushing them into second place behind the 2nd kyu pair. Participants shall remain nameless to protect the editorial integrity of the writer.
Sensei Mizuno and Sensei Pete presided over the Randori competition which was on the whole good humoured and disqualifications were kept to a minimum. The upset however came when UCL dojo (2 dan-grade and 3 5th kyu) on their first outing in this particular arena managed to push the might of, among others, all five teams put up by the Southampton contingent to a nail-biting finish in the final. Having lost one of the two UCL dan -grades to the uncompromising demands of a train timetable the whole thing came down to the final bout between Dave (floats like a butterfly - stings like a, er well, butterfly) Dun of UCL and a genetically engineered beast from the Southampton University Science Department. The last time David came up against such an opponent is a matter of biblical record. Dave put up a valiant effort, but unfortunately science has no respect for biblical precedent.
In a weekend of notable events, one of the most poignant was that of Nori-San's farewell address. In it he reflected on his own university career in Japan and how sad it was that most university kenshi do not continue to practice once they graduate. He remarked on glad he was that he had continued and as a result had come to make so many friends England through Shorinji Kempo and expressed his hope that his experience would encourage existing university kenshi to do likewise. He was particularly grateful to have been invited to so many of the University Seminars during his time in England and remarked how he would consider himself to be a member of the BSKF.
I am sure by now that those of you who did attend the weekend will be thinking this report simply does not do justice to the whole event. I'm equally aware at this point that there is a considerable list of people who deserve to be named individually as responsible for making such a great success, but I just don't know them all by name. So, for fear of leaving anyone out, I'd just like to say - and I'm confident I can speak for most, if not all the participants - thanks to each and every one of you. If and when the responsibility for organising the next university seminar falls to us, we'll do our best to match the Glasgow experience, but it won't be easy.