Shogo and Bukatsudo

About 10 years ago, I thought I could climb well. I tried hard every day and on more difficult routes. One day, in front of a difficult route, I lamented that I couldn’t achieve it.

“Now, climb it well” Shogo said, and from that day on my long days of trial and error began.

Thinking back, I remember the words Shogo said clearly: “Don’t stretch your arms completely, a slight bend is better. Move your legs more, your freedom increases. You will get more power!”

The days of pursuing questions began. What is a good climb? What is good? What is strong? What is efficient, yet powerful? The first year of trial and error was rather poor, but strangely, I remember the feeling of change rather than the stress.

The turning point for me was the direction of foot output. That was the moment when it hit me and all the questions I had seemed resolved. My movement changed dramatically and results started to appear. But solving these problems raised new questions, a never-ending cycle in search of what is best.

Shogo built a climbing gym in Hachioji about 5 years ago, and is now focusing on instructing the regulars of the gym. “What does it mean to be strong and skillful?”

Occasionally, he holds a “Cultivation Club” meeting, which combines classroom theory, circuit training and body care. Sometimes, I help out in these classes as a support instructor. Although I’m on the instructor side, I learn with the students too.

In his instruction, the things that tormented me for 5 years are taught in a day. Of course, if you get an answer to your questions, it is but the beginning of your learning process.

His answer always points towards basic training and its importance. Everyone in the world wants a shortcut to success, but how many can attain it? And in the world of climbing, how many have a clear basis of understanding to the underlying foundational skills and practice, are able to express it and can guide people down the right path?

I wanted to share his instruction to the world and all of Japan. After much persuasion, he finally agreed to allow Rollfilm to create a video of the session with the top youth climbers. The condition was that the detail and explanation that he gives during the session will be concealed in its making.

There are hints given in the video, but not all the secrets are revealed. Of course, if you do solve these hints, it will lead to more questions ahead. I’m hoping there is someone like me who is interested to solve these hints and get lost in the world of climbing and help to develop it.

I’m grateful to have met Shogo Murooka, everything for me has changed and evolved. It may be overstated, but of course the climbing movement, the way of thinking, the way of living stems from his wise instruction.

(Mitsuo Yamamoto)


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