I would like to say thank you to the members of the Matayoshi Kobudo Association of Great Britain. The group and its leader, Michael Clayton sensei, invited me to come and teach our kobudo at their annual gasshuku. It was held in Leeds, England, from November 17-19 and people came from all around England (and Wales!). I had a great time. Michael sensei and the group were really hospitable, and did a great job with a lot of new material. I got to meet some people I have communicated with on line but never met in person, like Gary Lever sensei and Andy Moorehouse sensei, and that was also good fun.
Michael sensei is leading a really good group of kobudo practitioners. The energy, enthusiasm, and attention to detail over what was a long and full weekend was fantastic. While the seniors, not surprisingly, showed a good understanding of the material they already knew and had a lot to draw on to help them with the new material we covered I was particularly impressed with the large group of junior students who attended. They took on some usually senior material and handled it really well, getting into it and enjoying working with it right away. It speaks highly of the group and how they are led, as an atmosphere that allows people to grow, share, and experiment is essential but sometimes hard to develop.
I also had a nice time seeing some of the area around Leeds and York, with some visits to historic battlefields (which also included a farmer who was very curious about the two fellows doing nunchiyaku in his field…), the city of York, and some time in the Royal Armories Museum in Leeds, where the Leeds MKAGB group trains. What an atmospheric and beautiful space! We spent Friday night training kobudo surrounded by a variety of East and South Asian antique weapons and armor, a truly unique experience for me.
Thank you again Michael sensei and the whole group for your attention and enthusiasm. Everyone put in a lot of effort over the weekend (I think my favorite comment on Sunday afternoon was “what fun! I am physically and mentally shattered..”) and I could see people processing the new information and enjoying taking it in. I could also see a lot of smiles as people were training and working hard and that says excellent things about the group to me. I hope everyone had as much fun as I did, and I look forward to another opportunity to train together. Otsukaresama desu!