Travelling is at its best when it has a purpose like a martial art seminar. Taking part at several seminars each year opens my eyes not just within Nanbudo itself but it also enables me to see a number of interesting places, like Paris with its Eiffel tower and other famous sights on this occasion.
Happily the seminar in Bagneux started already on Thursday, continuing until the Sunday evening. On the weekdays trainings took place in the evening and at the weekend there were two trainings per day. Each of the trainings lasted for over two hours, giving a suitable amount of time for the repetition of techniques focused on at the seminar.
I started the trip from Ljubljana airport and based on the previous experience I did not even bother to try to get a cup of coffee. I met Goran Lorger from Slovenia and Leo Rafolt from Croatia later at the airport in Paris. We continued by train to Bagneux. We then contacted Leopoldo, one of the local nanbudokas, who gave us a ride to our accommodation, to the Youth Hostel Bagneux. He is one of the oldest people active in Nanbudo, being some 70 years of age. My deepest respect!
We were the only foreign participants at the seminar, Leo speaking nearly fluent French. Even though the seminar was conducted in French by Yoshinao Nanbu doshu-soke, it was not hard to follow his gestures and understand descriptions of the techniques. Due to his excellent teaching skills, I was even able to understand him in a language I don't speak. He introduced a few new paired drills, such as Nanbu sotai randori irimi no kata and Nanbu sotai gyaku randori irimi no kata. These two were combined then with two attackers as Nanbu sotai irimi ninin gake.
On the kata side we focused on Genki Nanbu ichiban and the three first _Nanbu _katas. Also all _Shihotai _katas were performed to check their accuracy.
The last training on Sunday was dedicated to introduction of Nanbudo to a few Kyokushinkai karatekas. Together we trained several aspects of Nanbudo. From what I have seen and also experienced myself when beginning in Nanbudo and coming from Karate, it is rather complicated for straightforward karateka to transform movements to the fluid ones of Nanbudo. However karatekas who practiced with us were exceptionally good in this, getting the right direction immediately. Perhaps open mind is the most valuable key of understanding.
Friday was mostly spent walking in the centre of Paris. With two of my friends from the Balkans, Leo and Goran, we saw most of the tourist attractions as well as a couple of the local martial art equipment shops. I miscalculated my budget for this trip as Paris is not the cheapest city in France. The hostel we stayed at was extremely cheap, only 6 EUR per night and it was far from an awful place as price might indicate. It was small, but exactly what we needed and above all close to the training hall.
In the early Monday morning, Leo and I were driven to the railway station by Leopoldo, from where we headed back to the airport. Goran stayed for half a day longer. Besides if Goran would not stay longer, I would no longer have my digital camera, as I lost it during our last night, but Goran found it later on Monday.
I realized I did not need any knowledge of French which I don't speak anyway but all locals spoke English, despite their famous reputation of speaking French and French only.
Jukka Paasonen, 3 dan