Despite a lot of music related traveling, I had also time for my hobbies this summer, and this time I want to introduce you to the newest nerdy hobby of mine, naginata. I started this Japanese martial art less than a year ago, because I wanted to complement my aikido training with some other art which uses a weapon. Naginata looked exotic and hard to handle, so I was ready to take on the challenge.
I have been practicing this art in Helsinki Kendo Club which has a small but dedicated group of naginata enthusiasts, and my teacher advertised us a weekend seminar in St. Petersburg with the highest level of Japanese naginata teacher, Sumi Kaoru hanshi. Since I have a Russian visa I decided to give it a try. The seminar itself was three days long, but since I arrived a day early I could take part in a special keiko (practice) at the local dojo, Zanshin and got to know the Russian team a little bit.
The seminar itself was really fun, and Sumi Kaoru sensei was working very hard with us. We had five to six hours of training both on Saturday and Sunday, including basics, kata practice and practice with bogu (armor). In the end of the seminar there was a little competition too (and unfortunately this time I was left without a medal to bring home).
During the same weekend I also visited the Mariinsky Theatre, where my old professor Leonid Korchmar was teaching a conducting masterclass. I myself was on the same kind of summer masterclass way back in 2003, which led to my first professional engagement. I was feeling very nostalgic watching my professor initiate the next generation of conductors into the Russian style of conducting.