Physical Training Nov 2007
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Beppu Iaido Report and One Legged Cutting

copyright © 2007 Jeff Broderick, all rights reserved

Beppu iaido group

This is the part where I pretend that I'm a fully-integrated member of the iaido group and not a perpetual outsider... (I'm not bitter!)

We had a big turnout the other Sunday, so I made everybody line up while I took a picture. I'm not too pleased with the performance of my camera, but I didn't really adjust the settings very well, so it's my own fault.

Beppu Iaido
Front row (l-r): Yasumatsu Sensei, Azuma Sensei, Kawamura Sensei, Sato Sensei, Nishino-san, Uramoto-san.
Back row (l-r): Kosaka Sensei, Tokumitsu-san, Hirota-san, Naka-san, Yamamura Sensei, Karai-san*, Hamasaki-san, Fujikawa-kun, Yoshimochi Sensei, Ishii Sensei.
*I'm almost certainly not reading that right, but I don't know his real name because everyone calls him Kacchan!

Keep your eye out for Fujikawa-kun. That kid is going to win the All-Japans, starting in about 10 years and continuing for a while, I think. Yoshimochi Sensei is the new soke of Niten Ichi Ryu (in the Gosho-ha scheme of things) and Ishii Sensei is his training partner. Both of them also teach Sekiguchi Ryu.

Beppu Iaido team 2007
Here is the team that Oita is sending to the All-Japan's next week. From left to right: Kosaka Sensei (7th dan division) has placed 2nd or 3rd a number of times, but as far as I'm aware, never won. He is currently writing a series of iaido articles for Kendo Nippon magazine. Sato Sensei (8th dan) is the team coach. Kawamura Sensei is one of only 3(?) ZNKR 9th dans in Japan. Nishino-san (6th dan) came in second last year. Uramoto-san (5th dan) is very good, but maybe is going for the first time, I'm not sure. Anyway, I wish the whole team good luck as they've been training really intensely for the last 6 months, at least. I hope they can upset the "expected" outcome and knock out the favourites: hometown heroes Okayama, and the powerhouse team from Chiba that has been dominating the competition for the last couple years. Bring it home, guys!

One-Legged Cutting

Azuma sensei frequently talks about balance. Last class he had us standing on one leg and cutting. We had to think about why we wobble back and forth, and also why we tended to kick up the foot that we had lifted off the ground at the moment when we cut.

It was really hard to do, and I thought about my friend Ed, who has one leg but does beautiful iaido. The reason he does such nice iai is because he is never off balance. If he goes off balance, he takes a fall. The rest of us, however, can indulge in bad habits where we lean forward, or lean backwards, or bob our heads when we cut. These habits are extremely hard to break because balance is so fundamental that it is hard to change.

So here's a suggestion: lift one leg right up and try cutting a few times. Keep doing it until you can cut without wobbling or moving your lifted leg. Gradually lower your foot until it is almost in contact with the ground. Then, cut and without toppling forward onto that foot, shoot the front foot out. Next, try to step through and recapture the feeling of loading your weight entirely on one foot as you transfer your weight. Now, try and make the whole process natural!

Here's another check. Do ipponme-mae but stop at nukitsuke. Check your posture mentally. Carefully perform furikaburi, and at the jodan position, lift your front leg completely off the ground and cut with your front leg in the air. Could you do it? I couldn't.

One more check: do mae and continue through to kiri-otoshi. Before you do chiburi, imagine that your opponent suddenly cuts for your front foot. Don't block, just step backwards so that your feet resemble the nukitsuke position for Ushiro. Was it easy, or were you so dog-legged that you couldn't stand up easily?

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Physical Training Nov 2007