Firstly, it seems I will be attending a grading in Japan. In two days in fact. I'm nervous.
I initially asked some teachers at the dojo if I could attend a grading somewhere, because, well, I have to get ikkyu some day anyway, and I might as well get it over with. They all said they did not know of any dojos that were grading in August, and Grumpy, of course, flat out said that I can't grade in Japan.
However, Kotomi found a dojo in a neighbouring prefecture which was holding an ikkyu grading, but for children. She mentioned this to one of the nice sensei at shimpukan, and he said he knew the dojo leader and would talk to him. Apparently he convinced him to let me attend. So on Sunday it's grading time. I'm scared.
I have only ever attended one grading before, and it was a disaster. I was pretty much a complete beginner. I didn't have my shinai, so I had to borrow someone else's, which felt really tiny in my hands. They asked us to do stuff I had never done before, and I got 6th kyu, the grade everyone starts on any way.
Oh well, I'll just think of Michael Phelps. What would Michael Phelps do? He wouldn't be this nervous, right?
A female member of shimpukan told Kotomi (they talk a lot in the changing rooms) that Grumpy got drunk one night and started talking about us. He said "who the fuck took them to shinmeikan?!?" (The Sunday dojo). Apparently he really hates the dojo. Also he complained about the fact that we are going to both dojos, and that this is not acceptable. It seems people should only attend one dojo, and have one sensei, and going to two or more at the same time is rude or disrespectful. Well, no one ever told us. And Hirai sensei teaches at both. And even if someone had told us, I would have pointed out to them that I'm just visiting, and that I just want to do kendo, and that they can stick their tradition wherever they want. If there is no class on Sunday, or any other day, then I'll bloody well go practice kendo somewhere else. Oh, and Grumpy is pissed of that Kotomi's name bag says 'Noda' instead of 'Shinpukan'.
Even worse, he has been getting on Kotomi's nerves lately. First he wanted to give her all the bogu he had lent her, which is strange. Then he said he would get better bogu for her soon, which she never asked for. When she said she was going to buy her own he offered to take her to a certain shop where he could get her big discounts. Normally this sort of thing would be great coming from a nice sensei, but somehow coming from him it is unnerving. Sometimes he makes inappropriate comments, like saying "I missed you" when Kotomi didn't show up to practice. And when she practices with other teachers (which she enjoys) he always manages to criticize something, sometimes even saying "your kendo was horrible today."
Yesterday, after mokuso, he suddenly told some young kid (about 16) sitting next to me to go to the end of the line, so he had to pick up his shinai and bogu, get up, walk all the way to the end past the beginners and sit down again. And why? Well, we have no idea. He only comes every now and then, so perhaps because he is a visitor? But other visitors are not forced to sit behind the beginners (he was pretty good too). I think it was just because Grumpy just wanted to assert some authority, because no one else seems to recognise it.
I think Grumpy's kendo attitude is bad. And I think it shows in his kendo. He seems arrogant, and bent over and twitchy like an old wrinkly man. When I compare him to Hirai sensei, the calm and polite teacher, it is obvious who is the greater person. His kendo is also not very good: he has no ki-ken-tai ichi, he leans to his left all the time, his kirikashi looks like he's butchering something. He thinks of himself as the best, and is blind to his own mistakes. And no one would ever dare to tell him otherwise. A few days ago Tough sensei beat the shit out of him, and god did he look angry afterwards (but I think Tough sensei was being a bit arrogant, he wasn't even trying very hard haha).
I think all this is a good experience, it shows me how not to act and how not to treat people. But I do wish Kotomi had started at another dojo, or at least with another teacher.