Part 3: Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in Rural Japan (English)
|Shikoku Competition 2019|
I have been looking forward about writing about my experiences training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in Rural Japan for a while now. For those who do not know, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a self-defence martial art, with a focus on grappling, submission holds, and chokes. The martial arts has its origins from traditional Japanese Jiu Jitsu and Judo, as it made its way towards Brazil, which is the martial art we know today. Without question, I have never been more embraced by a community than the BJJ community, not only by my wonderful team in Sydney, Gracie Barra Bondi, but also throughout the world where I have had the privilege to train at dozens of different schools . I talked a lot about communities in the last article, and I intentionally excluded my experiences training with my BJJ team in Kochi, as I have so many learning experiences, achievements, admiration and respect which I wanted to share, that it needed a full blog post. In this article, I want to focus on what it was like to train Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in Rural Japan.
I first started training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu about 7 years ago with my team in Sydney, so when I decided I want to move to Japan, I was worried that I wasn’t able to keep training the hobby that I love. Before I arrived in Kochi, the first thing I searched was “BJJ schools in Kochi Japan” and I saw two schools were in the city, so I was very happy! Although I was not spoiled for choice like Sydney, where there are over 50 gyms, the most important part for me was I could continue training, and not give it up. The first gym I went to seemed to not be open, so I went to my first training with Ichiryo Gusoku (一領具足). Just as some historical background, in peacetime, Ichiryo Gusoku lived as farmers engaged in working the land, however, once they were mobilized by the feudal lord, they were supposed to respond it at once with Ichiryo (one set) of Gusoku (weapon, armor). They were a group of farmer-samurai who served the Chōsokabe clan of Tosa Province.
|Team photo at our Dojo in Haruno|
|End of Year Yakiniku party|
On Saturday Night, we had a special event, where we had visiting teams from nearby prefectures, and some high-level black belts came as well. There must have been about 30 people joining us that night, and I felt like a kid in a candy store. It was an amazing night of rolls, followed by a presentation ceremony where Kadoya Sensei and Doi Sensei was awarded their black belt. It was wonderful to see, and they became the first black belts in our club, so it was an important moment for our club’s history. And we proceeded to all go out together for foods and hangs after. As the only foreigner at the event, many people are excited to roll with me, which I take as a compliment. I learnt an important lesson while I was training in Japan, which can be illustrated on this night. As I was consistently rolling with new people, different training partners, people who come to train with me to sometimes “prove themselves”, all I can do is have faith in my abilities. I know what I can do. So, I just need to have trust within myself, and show what I can do. If things do not go my way, that is fine, because I know what I can do, and I can also learn what I cannot do. So rather get worked up and scared in rolling with a constant barrage of new people, I can just relax and have faith in myself that everything will be okay.
|Kadoya Sensei and Doi Sensei receiving their Black Belt|
The classes and training with Ichiryo Gyusoku was very different to what I was used to. A bit less structured, a bit more laid-back, and a strong focus on training hard. I remember I would come into the gym, and we would start with a 40 minute spar, or a shark tank (You are in a circle, and every 2 minutes, a new person spars with you), or 100 set rounds of a series of exercises. It was really brutal on some days, but it made me stronger.