Last Week, one of my teachers and one of my dohai visited the old City of Krakow in Poland. Reason for this was that the shibu-cho of germany gave a seminar there for his polish students.
For me this was my first time in Poland. And what can i say? I loved it.
We started our journey friday noon, driving from Berlin to the border. There for 60 Kilometres we had a uncomfortable drive over one of the old highways, build by Hitler, giving out free Backmassages over the bumby road. Luckily this was the only historic Motorway part and all others were pretty new. We stoped for supper at a local bar, were we also exchanged our Euros for polish Sloty. That was also a first experience for me, as my 50 Euro amounted to something around 250 Złoty which was enough for the whole journey, enyoing polish food and drink for all 4 Days. But on the other Hand i realized how much it must suck for our polish friends to come to germany, because everything at home would be more expensive than in poland. After a six-hour drive we reached our destination, a little suburb 20 minutes by car away from Krakow. There we could sleep at the home of my dohais friends.
The next day i was suprised by the warm welcome of our hosts. Their hospitality was really great, i feelt like in a hotel. Polish Breakfeast was awesome with fresh salad, unique sausages and great bread.
Then we drived to the gym, were the seminar should be held. As i understood it, it was a gym of the local university there, which was rented for the event. The gym had a own parking lot, was pretty big, and super clean. One could buy sportsdrinks there, little snacks and one could lock up his Locker. That was all stuff i am normally not used to from our little elementary school gym were we normally train in Berlin. The only negative aspect was the great window to the south. Which meant that for a time of the day one would have all of the sunlight in ones face when training the Ukedachi Side of the Kata.
The polish students themselves were very interesting. Because one has to understand the history of their group. The group started under the Guidance of the late Hatakeyama Goro which parted from the Sugino Dojo after the death of Sugino Yoshio O-Sensei. Hatakeyama started his own organisation, teaching his version of Shinto-ryu, Katori Shinto-ryu Hatakeyama-ha. But Hatakeyama died in 2009 without leaving a official succesor for his organisation. Three years ago if i remember right, the leader of the polish Group visited the german training camp in germany with Sugino Yukihiro Sensei, searching for Guidance from Sugino Sensei and the german shibu-cho, which both accepted.
So this group is in an interesting position. While they are eager to learn from the teachings of Sugino Sensei, one can see the stylistic differences from their old Training in their waza. (This is by no means something i critisize by the way. I can imagine that the transition from one stylistic approach to another isn’t accomplished instantly and needs a lot of time)
I have to note the high motivation of the polish students. I was suprised by their vigor. Before the official start of the seminar everybody was already on the dojo floor Training the Kata with each other. One the one hand from my perspective this type of behavior is suboptimal training(mostly dohai on dohai while skipping most of the Solo Kihon Exercises) i still have to confess that it this level of motivation suprised me in a very positive way.
After the first half of the seminar we had time for lunch at the cafteria which was also quite good and tasty.
But the best part was the party at the evening(which of course was after the second Training Session 😉 ). The location was a traditional Bar in a cellar of Krakow, were we would dine on traditional food and great beer, while folksinger would play their Songs in the middle of the room.
While Kenjutsu was the main theme of the Saturday, on Sunday we concentrated also on Bo- and Naginatajutsu. After the end of the seminar everybody became a certificate for the participation. Which was new to me, but it was quite a nice gesture.
One Monday we had the honor to get a free tour trough Krakow from our female Host. Our luck was that she worked as a professional tour guide in Krakow. I must say, it was a great Day. Krakow is a beautifull City with a rich history. The buildings are awesome, the food is great, the polish women are lovely, the people generally are very nice and friendly and the churches awestruck me. I’ve never learned so much of any history than in this one day.
For me it’s clear: i will surely come again.