Trip to Portugal

by Laurence Dumonceau

Have you ever gone on holiday alone?

If you have never done so, I advise you to do so: you are totally free to do and see absolutely everything you like, without compromise. Of course, it is also the risk of being alone when there is a problem, when you get lost or when you can’t make yourself understood.

This time, I took some precautions: I went to Portugal, a country where its inhabitants are known for their friendliness; they almost all speak English and above all…I contacted the Naginata dojo!

What a great idea! Going on holiday and going to the local Naginata class is like escaping from home without being totally disoriented.

Well, I can’t hide the fact that I was a bit apprehensive about the experience: I’ve already found myself in a country by mistake by taking the wrong route (it’s even happened to me several times!) or taken hours to find the street of my flat in Japan (I had a good excuse, there is no street name!).

You don’t lose your good habits: it’s not because I changed country that I’m not going to start practicing on Tuesday evenings^^

I think that the ENF is trying to identify the different dojos. It’s so nice to be able to come to a class, to be reassured to have “family” in a corner,… who knows? maybe it will give new ideas for trips, new small workshops, new meetings,… In short, share your addresses! Let’s communicate together!

Between the different strikes (Belgian planes and Portuguese subways), it wasn’t easy to find my way around… but I met directly a martial arts enthusiast who called me when he saw the word “Naginata” on my jacket. Someone who has already heard of Naginata from the first day of my holiday? This can only be a good omen!

So I went to Lisbon where I met the two people who practice naginata there as well as a young man who was starting our favourite martial art for the first time, then to Porto where I made a small detour to Braga to supervise the Saturday class.

Each time I was received with kindness and generosity: here is a hakama, a naginata, a bogu,.. and then naturally, a drink to celebrate our exchanges and meetings.

In Belgium, we have a policy of taking all our dan at an international seminar to be able to confront ourselves with new sensei, new ways of teaching and practising.

This trip and these encounters confirm me in my beliefs: it is always very enriching to practice with new people. I am lucky. I think it is important to remember how lucky we are.

I have the opportunity to travel. The naginata is a family where we are always welcomed. I have a professional life that I am passionate about. Although I have been practising naginata for 21 years, I am still learning new things in class. I wish you the same luck on your side.

Concerning naginata, I have the rare chance to have so many practitioners and so many high graded people with whom I train regularly. Just imagine… In Brussels, there is a 6th dan, a 5th dan, three 4th dan, a 3rd dan, three 1st dan and some kyu! What luck!

So I end this article with an invitation. If you also want to go on an adventure, don’t hesitate to look for a Naginata club in your area. And if you are passing by Brussels, our doors are open to you.