The new school year started at the beginning of April, which means lots of changes have occurred: At my base school, there are some new students who have been learning Naginata since they were in junior high school. They are at just about my level, and it's been really really nice to practice with people who are the same level as me! Unfortunately it will be short-lived, since they practice six days a week and I only go to that school two days a week; I will soon fall behind. But at least then I can move on to practicing with the new students who have just started learning Naginata!
At my visiting school, all of the new students are new to Naginata. I've been practicing with them, but sometimes also watching them and giving them advice as a sempai (someone who has been practicing Naginata longer than them). I did a similar thing when my friend started learning Naginata, but this is the first time I've done it in Japanese instead of English. Fortunately the students seem to understand my gestures and limited Japanese. There has been some nuances that I don't think I can convey and therefore haven't tried, but so far that hasn't been a problem because they are new and making many mistakes -- we can focus on the major ones before the minor ones. I don't want to overwhelm them with criticism!
The situations at my schools involve beginnings, but that with my Naginata club is an ending. I've stepped back from it. I might occasionally go to a practice, but I now consider myself an inactive member. I've been in a relationship since August, and unfortunately my boyfriend lives far enough away that effectively we can only spend time together on weekends. I tried to juggle that with my normal weekend activities (including the Naginata club; it only meets on weekends), but in November it came to my attention that I just couldn't do it all. I scaled back my involvement in most of my weekend activities, including the club -- since I have the opportunity to practice on weekdays at schools I focused more on that instead. I still went to my Naginata club as often as I was free, but due to various weekend events, lately I've made it once a month at best. The weekends are just going to get busier as the weather gets warmer.
Rather than disappoint people by not attending practices I told them I would mostly likely not be involved with the club any longer, and if I went it would be an exception and not the rule.
They seemed to take it well; even better than I was expecting. I guess they probably knew it would happen. The club leader seemed disappointed that I would not be able to compete in the Kyushu Naginata tournament, but I probably wouldn't be able to even if I stayed with the club -- the tournament is sometime in August and I am planning to move away from Japan then.