Today is a special day, I am affected by a deep feeling of nostalgia. My training partners have left to participate in the Summer Special Training (Shochu-Geiko), and I, for the first time, have not been able to go with them.
Yesterday, January 13th, while I prepared to lead the class, they were getting ready to take off to their destination, to encounter themelves, some with hopes, some others with fear. Those who have gone some time before (the veterans), full of memories and experiences, they are asking themselves what the Special Training has in stall for them, what surprises or discoveries within themselves they will find. A strong embrace to each veteran, specially to my sempai, with who I have shared so much on the path of Budo and some word to cheer up those that are going for the first time... and then they have all gone and I am still here.
I remember my first Special Training in 1991, how many fears! how many ghosts within my head before I decided to go. I tried to prepare myself the best I could taking into account that my knee injuries were severe and not much time had gone by since my return to Karate (a car accident had distanced me from Karate training for 8 years). I knew I was in a complete disadvantage with respect to my training partners, how naive at that moment in time to compare myself with them, once I was at the special training I understood that the Special Training is a test for each and everyone, an encounter with yourself, with your limitations, physical and mental, how could one avoid let a teardrop escape under those circumstances.
So many emotions and thoughts crossing my mind while we did Oi Tsuki, the pain of the battered feet on the stones of the terrain and stimulated by the small thorns that would penetrate them, the fatigue, bordering on fainting and the enormous will to continue were the perfect ingredients to succumb to your self. So many experiences, so many feelings mixed with dust and heat, the group would fire up, a sempai on the ground and a kohai that picks him up and stimulates him to continue. The same trainee that a moment ago was about to faint is now cheering me up and lifting me, there are no gradings here, we are a whole, we are a group at war, the Oi-tsuki, Mae geri, the Uke, they come and go, the hours pass and the training session does not end.
They have gone and I have stayed behind in the Hombu, what an experience to stay behind, I lead the class and stay there training late into the night, as if trying to live a bit with those that have gone, imagining the nervousness of those there for the first time, the conversations and stories around the campfire, the tea with honey, the smoke and laughter, the Special Training has already started.
I recognize this feeling of anguish, nostalgia that invades me, it is the same desesperation I experienced in my first Special Training when I was unable to participate in the last training session; I remember while I was sitting watching the physical preparation, I was asking myself if it wouldn't have been better to be there with them no matter what the consequences, fortunately another partner was in the same problem. Together we started to take distance from the rest while the session advanced, the people were giving themselves so fully that we were not able to observe from too close. Something made us distance ourselves, and from a distance, in silence, we suffered being outside, that same feeling fills me now. Without a doubt the strongest test I was subjected to then.
The Special Training has begun and for some it will be a very strong experience but for others it will be a path without return, a path that will lead them to the path of Budo.
With these words I would like to share my feelings and respect for those that at this moment are at the 1999 Shochu-Geiko, the last one of this century. I truly hope I will have the honour to assist to the one that will start the new millenium.