Regular readers will know that I am a frequent visitor to Southern Spain, since my wife and I finally decided to invest in a second home in Marbella. I’ve still not reached the nirvana of retirement, so my wife gets to top up her tan by the pool whilst I peer into my office laptop with the air-conditioning switched to maximum.
I was reluctant to commit to spending so much time here, until I discovered that Shion dojo had active kendo clubs at Estepona and Benalmadena. As we are based halfway between the two, I have the option of four keiko sessions per week. The other plus is that as the Costa del Sol is such a popular holiday destination, we get lots of kendo visitors.
Jacques van Alsenoy, 6th dan from Antwerp is a regular summer visitor and we made a mental note to train together when we were both here. Unfortunately Jacques was due to drive home the day after we arrived. Nevertheless, we both made it to the dojo on Tuesday and we had a really enjoyable keiko.
Friday saw the beginning of a seminar run by Mikko Salonen, kyoshi 7 dan, Makrus Frey, kyoshi 7 dan and Susanna Porevuo renshi 6 dan. On Friday I joined the seminar for the final keiko before enjoying tapas with Fernando, the Shion shihan and the Finnish group. On Saturday my colleagues bumped me up to be (a working) shinpancho for a Spanish open competition. It was great fun to referee with Mikko and Marcus as we have all previously worked together in European and World Championships.
For me the best part of every seminar or taikai is the open keiko session and I enjoyed my practice with kendoka from Spain, Estonia and had a great 1 on 1 with Mikko.
Sayonara parties have various formats, but Shion have their own take on the way it should be done. Fernando and his family provided a wonderful beach barbecue party, with sardines cooked over olive wood and home-made gazpacho and tortillas. Our schedule did not allow me to take part in the final Sunday session, but I am already starting to think about next week’s schedule at Mumeishi when I look forward to welcoming Sueno sensei, hanshi, hachidan to the U.K.
As far as my friends in Spain are concerned, the story continues. My friend and sempai, Hayashi Kozo sensei , kyoshi, hachidan is coming to the UK to run a seminar in October and we hope to extend the trip by a few days so that he can enjoy the hospitality of Shion dojo on the 25thand 26th of October.