We had our own technical session on the mat next to the professor from the University who was teaching a class of students, as a module of their university course has to be done on beginner’s judo. We were able to look at some of the things we have picked up watching some of the top players. We then went into town to have a look round the shops, in search of a winter jacket for us all as it is very cold in the evenings as the temperature drops quite rapidly and it is also snowing. Tried on a few things but it seems they don’t do “Large” all the clothes are for small people and Max is even having to bend down to get through some of the shop doorways. Got back from the town and had a rest before the 4.45pm randori session.
Turned up for randori tonight and there were at least 80+ Dan grades on the mat, the local high school visited and some female players from another university in Tokyo also came along. There was that many people on the mat the head coach Mr Masuchi had to split it into 3 groups. Similar structure as always, warm up, Uchi Komi, Speed Uchi Komi, Nage Komi and tonight’s special randori was 15 x 5 minute randori. The boys are really starting to get to grips now with the intensity of the randori and also managed to throw a few of the high school students. There is no need to travel to any other places for judo as they all come to Tsukuba so there is that much variation its unreal, left hander’s, right hander’s, tall, small, fat, thin, you name it there’s some on the mat. I also noticed last night that the top players are trying to kill each other, there are no prisoners on the mat tonight, everyone is getting smashed and there is no sympathy if you are struggling, they just lift you back on your feet off the floor and throw you again. The top players also never hardly practice with the same weight category as themselves, they always train with bigger opponents, so the 73kg player was fighting 90kg players most of the night and really testing themselves. There are a couple of players on the mat that are super special, Nishiyama, 19 year old 73kg player, Tanaka who I think is 66kg and Fukomi the 48kg female, they destroy people and never take a rest all night. There was also the +78 kg female world champion who was destroying the heavyweight males; she basically fights like a man. They are also the only ones who get to do the Nage Komi, everyone else is there for them so they can throw you all round the mat, they do this for around 20 minutes and its throw, after throw, after throw and every one is identical and perfectly performed. I think the lads are starting to understand how hard you have to train if you want to make it to the top level in Judo, its an eye opener for sure. Also had a little look at the Kendo, they are super crazy people smashing each other with sticks and thy make such a noise its unreal.
Tonight the 3 coaches were invited out with Mr Okada, Mr Masuchi and the professor. They took us for a traditional Japanese meal. It was basically a massive bowl of stock/soup that is placed on a gas burner on your table. You are then given vegetables, noodles, tofu, animal guts, bacon, meatballs etc to add to the soup and it cooks in front of you. The pot is in two halves; there is a hot spicy side and a milder side. Fitz took a bowl from the hot side and ate a red pepper and it broke him, I swear his face turned red. The professor also ordered Chinese rice wine that tasted like sherry, apparently if your glass is empty it means you want more, we didn’t realise this and the professor kept ordering more and more and we kept emptying our glasses and the professor kept filling them up, we thought it might be rude not to drink it so ended up getting quite drunk before the night finished. We also encountered our first earthquake; all the tables and doors started shaking, not a big earthquake but the earth definitely moved for us.