3rd April - In class – “I’m happy because it’s Friday!” Cheers. One of my students jumps up and hi-fives me. I feel like a rockstar.
After school I eat everything and have a glass of wine or so with Josh on skype. We have a wonderful conversation.
4th - Up at 6.30am. Brush out the wine, get picked up at 7.30 to go to our two day test for Jodo. I am less than happy about this, due to the hour of the morning and the fact Jodo is taking over my life. We spend a full SEVEN HOURS training. A rotund little man with a high pitched voice makes fun of my walk but proceeds to turn my flimsy stick waving into some kind of immovable force. A lot of people give us advice for our test the next day, which is lovely but detrimental as it is all different advice.
Went to our hotel and chilled in the AC, then went out for dinner. We did NOT want to go, we were so exhausted and it was so hot. But everyone was there, even the Kendo President of Nichinan. Starry-eyed much! He knew my Kendo teacher, so I was instantly on my guard. Until then I hadn’t much cared whether I passed my test, because I don’t take Jodo seriously. But knowing I had a KENDOKA’s eyes on me made me realise I had to.
I was again struck by the idea that foreigners are just like escorts – fed and liquored for entertainment. Not that I’m complaining. Had legitimate fun, and got to talk to a lot of different people who for some reason or other have found an interest in a martial art.
After dinner/drinks we all went to Purikura (Japanese photo booths), then
Went to another club. I ordered a drink called “Everyone Passion” because no-one can deny marketing like that. We danced and got bought drinks, but when I tried to drink my own they became frustrated and gave us these different ones, so being from NZ I decided it was time to leave. Stopped on the way home for 10 cakes, scones and cookies – conveniently placed baked goods will be the death of me – and another place for ice cream. You know you live somewhere balmy when the 3am McDonald’s is replaced by 3am ice blocks.
5th April - Up early, and into our Hakama for the test. We train for 3 hours, eat a giant bento, and then begin our physical exam. (5 sets of movements with a partner using first a staff and then a wooden sword.) My hands are shaking but I finally realise the importance of the Kiai (scream). It focuses you, steadies you, and makes your movement complete instead of as shaky as your hands feel. I can only imagine its worth in a life or death situation. I hate the feeling of not trusting your cognitive memory so rely on muscle memory for the test. It’s hard to give up mental control in that situation, but when you’re nervous it can be really detrimental.
I like Kendo for this reason, because it is pure reflex, reactions, and doing what you can when you can. Your brain doesn’t get much of a chance to second guess you. Jodo on the other hand, is remembering set sequences perfectly. Like one of the girls said, the only way you could show you were any good at it would be by calling someone who knows the opposite sequence to “fight” with. In Kendo you just fight.
Anyway – I passed! I am a Jodo Shoudan. The instructor who one day prior had made fun of the very way I walked shouted “GANBATTE!!” at me and started laughing. Everyone congratulated us and now I know why people like sports. The feeling of achieving things is a whole new realm of glowing. Don’t think I’ll make a habit of it though.
We travelled home in the rain, where I promptly got into my futon and started watching Bad Girls Club. Appalling.