by Kim Taylor
The May iaido and jodo seminar held this past May 16-19 was quite a feat, especially for those who did all 30 hours of class that were available over the 4 days. Personally, I found it a bit hard to stand on my feet during class the next Thursday, 3 days after the end of the seminar! It's taken me almost a week to catch up on my sleep and recover enough to write this report. At least my hands and fingers seem to be working as they should once more.
The survivors, after 4 days and 30 hours of instruction.
Front row seated, Ikenaga, Oshita, Namitome, Shinohara, Koyama
We began with over 40 jodo students in the West Gym where class was lead by Namitome sensei, and by Shinohara sensei, both 8dan jodo. I must say it was a bit overwhelming to see all the beginners out on the floor in front of two menkyo kaiden. I suspect more than one person worked a little harder knowing that they were "playing above their level".
Namitome sensei keeps an eye on things.
We started with kihon of course, and then went through the first 5 seitei gata jo forms. In the afternoon we split into two groups with the "seniors" working through the rest of the ZNKR jo set as best they could.
Even when you think its a break...
sensei is watching!
Saturday we started the iaido portion which was led by Oshita sensei and Koyama sensei, both 7dan and assisted by Ikenaga sensei, 6dan from Japan as well as by Stephen Cruise, 6dan from Toronto. Of course our other 5 and 6dan Canadian instructors helped out now and then as well. The beginning was as usual, a round of Seitei Gata iai with everyone on the floor at the same time. This lets the sensei take a look at the overall level of skill at the seminar and decide what they're going to do for the rest of the weekend. Even in a converted arena it gets a bit scary to see 80 plus people waving swords around, especially when we hit shiho giri, number 10, and those of us in the front row turned to see numerous beginners aimed in the wrong direction. Fortunately the spacing was sufficient that there were no mishaps.
Koyama sensei and two members of his fan club.
The afternoon class saw more work on the Seitei set but
the class was broken into several groups based on rank. We didn't have
quite enough people for a "5dan and up" group so we had to allow the 4dans
into our area. Ah well, they didn't slow us down too much.
While the iaido folks were working some of the jodo students snuck off into another gym and got some intense training with Shinohara sensei. A pattern they were to repeat on Sunday.
In the late afternoon class we again picked up our jo and bokuto and launched into a class of "examination practice" since the gradings were the next morning.
Saturday evening saw the party regaled by Clint Cross who made his debut as auctioneer after more than a decade of work by Doug Blue. Clint was impressive in his first outing and we managed to pay for the roast pig dinner from the proceeds. Many thanks to the organizers, auction crew and of course to the sensei who donated many of the items auctioned. The record price was, if I recall correctly, $650 for a set of fittings made by Koyama sensei (a professional tsuba and fittings maker). They might have gone for more but I made the mistake of looking at my wife shaking her head wildly and missed the final knockdown. Lovely things and worth more than what was paid for them.
The sensei and the roast at the party.
Early Sunday morning (yes there were hangovers a'plenty
in evidence) saw the CKF iaido and jodo gradings in one gym while those
not grading were in the other doing more iaido. I was at the gradings so
missed the training but soon forgot to feel peeved at missing practice
since the gradings were impressive with only 3-4 people missing their iaido
grade out of several dozen. The top rank awarded was 5dan to Dave Green
of Ottawa. The jodo gradings followed with a full slate from ikkyu to 4dan.
Jeff Broderick and Peter Boylan passed their 3rd dan and Kim Taylor managed
to pass his 4th. In fact, all the jodo challengers passed this year. The
testing practice must have paid off.
Iaido 5dan: Dave Green performing tsuki kage
Jodo 4dan: Kim Taylor (back turned) receiving kasa no shita
Jodo 3dan grading: Jeff Broderick and Peter Boylan
(backs to camera)
Jodo ikkyu grading
The iaido challengers get some directions
Tracy distracted by the judges
Sunday afternoon saw more seitei gata iai for the beginners and koryu practice for the seniors with Muso Jikiden Eishin-ryu being taught by Oshita and Ikenaga sensei, and the Muso Shinden-ryu being taught by Namitome and Cruise sensei. In the late afternoon the jodo groups worked through the rest of the seitei forms with a very quick intro to some of the Omote kata from Shindo Muso-ryu for the seniors.
Taking a break at lunchtime
On Monday the students had to choose between iaido or jodo, and the senior iaido groups once again went after koryu, the Muso Jikiden Eishin-ryu group reportedly getting through Oku Iai. The jodo students again split into two groups with the juniors working past #5 as far as they could. The seniors again went through seitei gata to ranai, and then found time in the later part of the class to work quickly through the Omote kata.
The jodo survivors on the last day. Front row: Shinohara, Namitome, Kimeda, Taylor
All in all a highly successful seminar which ran well due to the efforts of the Sei Do Kai students past and present who pitch in each year to organize, coordinate and run the seminar. I'd like to thank them and all the other folks and groups who pull together to keep this rather massive seminar (in sword swinging terms at least) under control.
NOTE!!!!! Sign up for the swordsmithing course and get admission to the martial arts seminars free.