This was my 4th time to Russia, however only my second time to Moscow. The first time was over 7 years ago when I accompanied Ando Shihan as uchideshi. This seminar as well was once again hosted by Nikolai Zherdev Sensei and the Kiryukan Dojo.
I arrived late Tuesday afternoon after a direct flight from Narita. The drive from Sheremetyevo International airport took quite some time since I landed right into rush hour. After checking into the hotel, we went out for a nice Uzbekistan dinner (seems to be popular in Russia recently). Moscow has a 6 hour time difference and I was starting to feel it. Got back to the hotel around midnight and tried to get some sleep, unsuccessfully.
The first class out of 10, started bright and early at 7am Wednesday morning. Being a weekday, I was happy to see a decent turnout. About 25 people joined the early classes before starting their workday. Mostly instructors and black belts, making for a fun, energetic and intensive seminar.
The afternoon and evening classes had a few more people, including the kids (about 25 of them). There were visitors from all around Moscow, also Ekaterinburg, Belarus, Kursk, Kazan, and Kostroma. It was nice getting to see a bunch of familiar faces. Quite a few of Kiryukan instructors and students have been to Japan and stayed with us at Ryu Dojo.
During the lunch break on Thursday, Denis from Hakuryukan Dojo took me on a short, but interesting excursion through north Moscow. We walked through the Memorial Museum of Astronautics and then VDNKh (Exhibition of Achievements of National Economy). It is kind of like a huge amusement park filled with different pavillions. It also has a huge skating rink (60,000 square metres) the biggest in all of Russia and Europe.
It was great being back in Moscow. The aiki spirit was awesome, the food delicious, the hospitality unparalleled and the weather better than expected. Thanks again to everyone who came out on their work days to join us at the 2 day seminar, especially the people from other parts of Russia who made the long trip out to Moscow. I look forward to seeing you all again soon.