OK, hands up who'd
like to go to Japan? Most judoka have had the dream at some time or
another. I know I did. I've been lucky enough to go over twice, first
for an extended holiday, and then again for 3 years, teaching English
on a government programme. When I was asked by the programme organisers
where I'd like to teach in Japan, I said "anywhere, so long as there's
a decent judo dojo nearby."
Budo University (IBU) in Chiba, Japan
I ended up spending 3 years in a small village in one of the most
remote parts of Japan, in the Japan Alps, hence I didn't get as
much judo as I had planned. The experience however was amazing.
No regrets at all, living in one of the most beautiful parts of
the country, but my judo stood still. Typically I'd get an hour's
judo a week if I was lucky.
When I did occasionally leave my remote location and head to Tokyo,
I'd stay at the Kodokan, which is the cheapest accommodation in
Tokyo, with a rather nice dojo on the 7th floor. That was great.
Training with judoka from all over the world. But even better was
getting to the universities. In particular, my trips to the International
Budo University (IBU) in Chiba (the prefecture next to Tokyo).
When I first visited IBU, nearly 4 years ago, I thought I'd gone
to heaven. This was, and still is, the most perfect environment
in which to train. The main dojo is 3 contest mat areas long, with
loads of mat area on the edge, and next door is a similar sized
kendo dojo. Both are on the second floor of a huge building, which
also contains a karate dojo, a weights room and loads of changing
rooms. The dojo looks out over a beautiful coastline from one window,
and a wooded hillside the other way. For 400 very keen, very skillful
judoka the scenery is hardly noticed as the randori is intense.
IBU also has another large judo dojo, another large kendo dojo,
an Olympic sized swimming pool, football, rugby and baseball pitches,
a 400m athletics track, tennis courts, a gymnasium, as well as all
the usual scholastic facilities.
I trained at IBU, under Kashiwazaki sensei, for a month the first
time I went to Japan and it was an incredible experience and a great
honour. (Thanks to Syd Hoare who organised it for me.) I tried to
go back whenever I could, while working in my remote little village,
but when my contract was coming to an end I realised I hadn't had
enough, and decided to apply for the Budo Specialisation Course
at IBU, and the accompanying scholarship. IBU has over 2000 students,
some 800 majoring in budo (half judo, half kendo). Linked to the
budo programme is a one-year course, the Budo Specialisation Course,
for 20 international students. The course allows you to concentrate
on judo (or kendo) whilst also studying Japanese language, culture
and history. The theory of Budo and judo (or kendo) are studied,
but the emphasis is on improving competition skills. In 8 years
of running the course students from 25 countries have taken part,
but I will be the first student from Britain on the course. An exciting
It begins in April, so when you read this I'll already be in Japan.
I'd like to thank my old mate Steve Mosse who helped me with my
training and preparation while back in the UK, and all at High Wycombe
J.C. who I trained with in the last few months. Thanks a lot for
working hard and working me hard. Good luck in all of your objectives.
Wish me luck.