Last night was, for me, the night of nights. I had the best training session I had in many, many years. It started a half hour of gut wrenching physical conditioning (I’m not in the best of shape anymore…. ) then an hour of grueling kihon under the critical eye of Naka Sensei followed by another hour of kata and bunkai (we worked on hangetsu, my favorite kata and jitte). To top off the evening, we went for a half hour of randori kumite. I admit I’m a bit rusty, but all the aches and pains were worth it. At the very least it cleared my cluttered rattling excuse of a brain. Thank you to my friends at the Japan Club for the invitation. It was a bit short notice (they only informed me at 2 p.m. yesterday, and the training was to be held at 7 p.m.!!!!). After training we all then headed to Kampung Bharu for supper. It has been a while since I had tasted such camaraderie. Naka Sensei then hosted us out-of-towners at his house in Sri Kembangan for the night. The conversations centered on karate (what else??!!), the influence of Japanese Bushido on karate and football (put 4 guys in the same room and football is sure to become a topic!). Naka Sensei was then kind enough to give Norikazu and me some pointers on kenjutsu, another art I’m rusty at. Vieri, Rachel and Zeng cheered (or was it goaded?) on every time Naka Sensei’s bokken found it’s mark on Norikazu and yours truly. I was really, really happy when the little ‘demo’ session ended roughly around 5a.m. (technically, I’ve been awake for 23 hours at that point) Most seminars I’ve been to usually works on how to deliver proper technique or perform kata (perform being the operative word) so that you can score max points in tournaments. Here, on this rather humid evening we tried whatever that works, beauty aside. To call the evening a seminar would have been an exaggeration. Rather it was a gathering of like-minded friends. Friends who push each other to short of the breaking point, and then reinforce each other to raise the bar on the said breaking point. Of the 9 that shared sweat last night, Moira & Jonathan Bannington drove back to Penang that very night, Kenji Asai, who treated us to the well deserved supper went back to Port Klang, and Tan back to Ampang. This morning Vieri flew back to Brunei, and the three southern people, Rachel and Norikazu drove back to Singapore, and yours truly to… where else???…. I know each and every one of us envy Zeng because he stayed behind to train yet another day with Naka Sensei before heading back to Kelantan. A big thank you to Kenji for organizing and for convincing Naka Sensei (he’s supposed to be retired) to lead last night’s training. It was a good meeting of the mind and body. We trained irrespective together of whether we were from JKA, SKIF, shito-ryu, whatever. What was important was the training. OOSSS!!!