Thousands of Miles from Home



In science class yesterday we watched a video, and as with most science videos the woman performing experiments was practically in roit gear to protect her from the chemicals. It was a stark contrast to the school festival, where kids were handed huge logs, shovels, sledgehammers, and pick axes to dig holes in the hard-packed dirt field for their murals. With little supervision, no less. I don't know if Morgantown High would distribute pickaxes to it's students without an armed guard at the ready.

Today's computer class was cancelled because the teacher was not in school, but in it's place the students were given a lesson about SSL (Secure Socket Layer) encryption. It was very similar to a college-level lecture I had attended. Right up my alley, but I was a little upset about missing computer class this week.

But today was my second day of kendo (martial art with the sword), which I am very much enjoying. I have quite a few blisters and my arms hurt, but I can keep up with the kids and swinging a sword is a ton of fun. The kendo room is above the judo room, and after school it's like an oven. However, I don't really mind and all the club members are friendly. Especially the teacher in charge, Sakaguchi sensei. His english is excellent, probably the best of the teachers in the school, and since there are only 4 students in the kendo club I get plenty of one-on-one training.

So far I've learned some techniques for swinging the sword, and have seen some kendo matches between the students, so I have a general idea of how the sport works. You score a point, or ippon, my striking the head (men) or the stomach (do), and simultaneously calling out your attack and lunging. So if you luge, call your attack, and strike on either the head or stomach, you score a point. Easy enough, right? There is also another attack called kote which is a strike to the wrist. Kote does not make ippon, but kote usually draws opponents off guard so that a kote-men or kote-do can be executed, which makes ippon. There are both lunging attacks and retreating attacks, but I'm just working on the lunge right now. There is also a pretty extensive set of armor that is worn that protects most of the front part of the body. The sword is made of bamboo, so bends rather easily but still hurts if you get hit in the right place. There are also practice swords that are not used for fighting which are quite solid and heavy.

Tomorrow I'll go to Shun's school festival, sunday i'll go to okayama alone to see the other two exchange students from canada and virginia, as well as the outbound exchange students from last year and hang out for the day. Then on monday there is no school so masatoshi will take us to okayama for some shopping.


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