I was not in Iowa and it was not a scene from one of my favourite films “Field of Dreams” with Kevin Costner. I had travelled with Mrs B. 4500 miles South West to a very beautiful Island in the Caribbean where the Dominican Republic is located. Claire had given me strict instructions that my dogi was NOT coming with us on our 25th Anniversary holiday.
However she did not say that all training was banned. So I opened the IJKA Republica Dominicana dojo at Bavaro, Punta Cana on Thursday morning 16th September the dojo was 14 miles long, not very wide and was covered in sand, I also had to avoid the odd palm tree during training as well. The dojo was open for 90 minutes daily, starting 20 minutes before sunrise and finishing in time for an early breakfast.
Above: The IJKA logo at the entrance of the dojo
The dojo stayed open for ten days and only had one other member. A Japanese gentleman joined me early Saturday morning, a short while after I had started training. I was performing kata in a very soft Tia Chi sort of way starting with Heian Shodan. He joined me when I had got to Heian Sandan, forty minutes later when I got to the end of Joko Sansei he was still performing what appeared to be an endless soft kata which was beautiful to watch out the corner of my eye, it reminded me a little of Empi in places, turning and diving like a swallow. I was to learn later that he spoke perfect English, but for the time we trained together as the sun started to rise not a word was spoken, somehow communication outside kata seemed unnecessary. The Gentleman left to join his wife in further practice; while I rested and took in the beautiful sunrise.
Above: Sunrise at the Republica Dominicana dojo
It was a great opportunity to have a little “me” training for a change. In total a most enjoyable 15 hours focusing on kata; trying to apply the advice of my Sensei, there was so much to work on and so little time. I trained a balance of Asai Ryu and mainstream Shotokan kata, probably about 70/30% split. This is a dramatic contrast to my normal 5/95% split in normal dojo training, as the number of higher grades increase at our dojo hopefully we will have more opportunity to practice Asai Ryu kata to complement our more traditional syllabus.
Although my training was limited to early morning sessions I found during the day that my mind sometimes wandered back into kata. Sat having a coffee with Claire my right arm would subconsciously perform, Hiawan Uke, Tsukami Uke... this was closely followed by Claire’s Yoko Empi, Uchi Mawashi Uraken with the words “Stop it!” I would have to wait for the next early morning session for my next karate fix, Osu!
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