Like every year this year too, The Martial Arts and Traditional Performaning Arts by the students of the Department of Martial Arts of the Nippon Sport Science University took place on February 18th (Saturday) 5 pm at the Melbourne Sports & Aquatic Centre Show Court, Albert Park.
As the performance hour approached, all the seats were occupied by Japanese as well as Aussie spectators. It showed the interest of the natives towards Japanese culture.
The grand inauguration was done by the Japanese drum (Taiko) performance. It was given by the martial arts students clad in their respective martial arts uniforms. The dynamic sound of Taiko drums and the rhythmic call of the drum players drew the spectators into the world of Taiko.
It was followed by the folk dance 'Daidengaku (大田楽)'. This dance with an up-tempo rhythm mesmerized the spectators.
The first martial arts performance was Kyudo (Japanese archery). The audience quietly enjoyed the somber movements from holding of the bow up to the shooting. And the splendid shooting received a round of applause!
The next performance was Sumo wrestling which is popular even outside Japan.
When sumo wrestlers appeared with their mawashi (belts), the Aussie audience was thrilled to watch the real Sumos. Some fascinating movements like the flexibility of body, extreme striking techniques were demonstrated.
This was followed by Judo. Being an Olympic event after all, Judo has high recognition among the Aussies.
In one demonstration, the demonstrator jumped over a single person initially, gradually increasing the number of persons being jumped over to 6. And when the demonstrator jumped over them the cheers of the spectators reached their peak!
This was followed by the Japanese dance 'Kojo No Tsuki'.
It was performed in Kimonos, holding Japanese fans and the performance reflected the dance and music of Japan.
One can see lots of Karate schools even in Melbourne. It was a tight performance by the group. Wooden boards were shattered with bare hands, legs and heads by the demonstrators! The demonstration had a comical tinge and it made the audience laugh.
Shorinji Kempo is very rare to be seen even in Japan. Shorinji Kempo was established in Japan in 1947 and it is a new category in the Japanese martial arts. It however, is spreading outside Japan including Australia. Its dynamic movements left a lasting impression on the spectators.
Japanese dance 'Ayame kaki tsubata'.
This gorgeous dance performed in traditional kimonos, holding umbrellas enthralled the audience.
Naginata (halberd) used to be a powerful weapon of war, later, used in self-defense by women of the Samurai clan. Rapid rhythmic movement of the Naginata in accordance to music enthralled the viewers.
The last martial arts form to be performed was Kendo. The origin of Kendo dates back 1000 years prior to the start of Japanese sword manufacture. Kendo is actively pursued even in Australia.
After some basic exercises and moves of Kendo there was a competition of a different kind. This competition was held between the bamboo sword and the Naginata (halberd). It was interesting indeed!
Once again, a vibrant Taiko performance "gousen no ki" by the students specializing in Martial Arts Education and "Nippon no Kou" by those specializing in Tradional Japanese Arts dressed in Happi Coats (usually worn during festivals, is a traditional Japanese straight-sleeved coat made of indigo or brown cotton)
In the end, the students and the spectators enjoyed the Bon Odori 'Tokyo ondo' (Bon festival dance) together.
Those were the 2 hours where oneself could truely immerse in the Japanese martial arts and traditional arts performances!
It was mentioned in the leader's speech that one would not get an opportunity to watch all martial arts and traditional arts performances as a single event, even while being in Japan. The performance was of a high caliber as all students are aiming to be professionals.
This program was an opportunity to develop different interests in Japan for the Aussie and the Japanese audiences alike. It is conducted every year in mid-February in Sydney and Melbourne; hence if you could not make it this time; make sure that you are there next year with your family and friends!