Ah, Playa de Aro. The most important event of Nanbudo year and thus the most important meeting point for Nanbudo people. From the beginning this event has given me some mixed emotions. Because I’m a king complainer and apparently cannot write a seminar report these days without whining I have to get rid of these negative things right away.
I’m not too much into hanging around in beach. The heat is not for me, I prefer moving in the shadows. The seminar takes place on Mediterranean area in the hottest time of the year and that means swetting around the clock. Another thing that is characteristic for this seminar is walking. One has to walk one’s legs sore and blistered, because the beach used for training, accommodation and grocerie store can never be close to each other. For some reason I do just fine back here in Finland but in Spain my shoes doesen’t seem to serve me well at all and very quickly my walking turns into painful limping.
Now I suppose I’ve done the whining and can move on into the seminar itself and how I got there. The first experience was a night in a tent nearby Skavsta airport. With Jukka Paasonen we flew into Girona, near Barcelone from Sweden, cause this seemed to be the only tolerable prised option, though it was not all that cheap. I had a tent in my back pack, cause we were supposed to spend few first nights on our destination in camping area until the Hungarians and Croatians would arrive and shere their accommondation with us.
Late at night we got ourselves into Skavsta from Stockholm and our flight out was due to leave next morning. Instead of doing the normal thing that would be walking into the airport and sleeping inside it we decided to put our tent on the grass few hundred meters away. It was not exactly a camping site and that is propably why we had a car visiting us at night. It drove in front of the tent, heading its lights at us and stood there for a while before speeding away. Perhaps some people for surveillance/security company thought about checking out our camp but then decided to leave us in peace.
Our seminar trip plans unfortunately didn’t allow us to participate the two week seminar right from the start. We made it to Playa de Aro in Tuesday and as we had checked in into camping site we went to the beach hoping someone from the morning training would still be there swiming, sunbathing, hanging at the beach bar or something like. But we found no one.
We had lot of time before the evening training, so Jukka decided to lead me into a walking trip through the beach rock cliffs into the center of Playa de Aro and on the other side of it where his Norwegian associates had a single house rented last years. If I only had the knowledge of the length of this nice little 10 kilometre walk I would have skipped it, cause my feet were already killing me. But Jukka didn’t tell me where we were going, not even when I asked him. That’s the way he is.
At the evening I was very tired and frustrated, but luckily I didn’t let my mood dicourage me to skip my first training session. After the training we were sitting in the beach bar with the others and all the negative things were swept away.
All in all, the seminar was training-vise very rewarding. Most of the techniques still made their way through my head without leaving any mark but the large amoung of training also made me remeber some things. This time I also realised that it would be good to make at least some notes. We did techniques from both budo-ho and kido-ho categories but kido-ho was clearly more on the table.
We did a lot of kinagare randoris and their close relatives (later I heard they were introduced there for the first time) Nanbu sotai techiques and randoris, and genki katas. Each morning training started with a long Nanbu no ki undo set, whose meaning and importance I could only guess. I tought it to be an awakening practice for ki enegry and a lead in into techiques that followed, which also were based on the use of ki energy.
I was told that there’s always something new introduced in the Playa de Aro seminar. This time it was - on top of Nanbu sotai - a practice that respects the long Japanese tradition of martial arts: umanori randori ichi no kata. Nanbu told that this practise reminds us from the time of samurai, when most of combat was done with weapons and heavy armory. In this technique the attacker is swept of his/her legs, then stepped on, the guard is pressed down and throte cut with imaginary blade.
The weekend in between the two training weeks was dedicated to the first _ju ippon shobu _competition. This competition form had been processed for a long time, apparently _ju randori _competition was no longer satisfying. Ju ippon shobu has a key difference to the "only defence emphased" ju randori. In ju ippon shobu also the attacker can get points from succesful technique. When in ju randori the defence is all that matters, the competition can turn really bad when competitors try to improve their chances of winning by trying to make very floppy attacks, which makes it difficult for the defender to make his/her job properly. Partly because the aim is to archieve more “realistic attack” protective equipment is used in ju ippon shobu. This prevents the competitor to get injuries in case of failing (being too late) with the defence.
After two weeks of training and making some new strong contacts it was time to head home and leave behind nowadays so tourist corrupted Playa de Aro. I can only imagine how it was some decades ago to traing there when the location was more peacefull.
Kalle Lönnroth, 5 kyu after the seminar