I hope this newsletter finds you warm and comfy and ready to enjoy the Christmas holiday.
Dojo News: Tameshigiri - our first attempt!
We'll be trying tameshigiri (test cutting) for the first time tomorrow (the 22nd). We take rolled up tatami (reed) mats, soak them in water for at least 24 hours, let them drip for another 6 or so, and then cut them with a shinken (sharp sword). For the last few weeks, the members have been practicing the specialized cuts they're going to attempt. It involves v-shaped cuts from above, and also below and some horizontal cuts too. Of course safety is our first priority, and we've been covering that as well.
If a person cuts well, the "cut" portion of the mat may actually not fall off for a second or two, giving the person a chance to make another cut on that piece. I've seen some video of this (check our blog for some Youtube) and it's pretty amazing. Some even attempt 2 cuts on the portion that's still standing.
Guests are welcome to come and watch - we should be finished with our warmups and ready to begin around 7pm on Wednesday at the dojo.
We'll be tentatively testing some members for rank on Wednesday, January 19th. We should have two candidates for 2-kyu, and 3 or 4 for 4-kyu. The ranking system starts at 4kyu, then progresses up. 4kyu, 3kyu, 2kyu, Shodan (equivalent to the American "black belt"), 2dan, 3dan, etc. The highest that I can test members for rank in our dojo is 2kyu, and after that they need to go to either a regional or national US Kendo Association approved event. Fortunately, there are a few in both the US and Canada where we can do this. I myself hope to take (and pass) my 5dan test sometime this year.
I got some nice photos and a short, short video from the Pangea demonstration. I'll be putting those up on the website and blog sometime over the holiday. Please do check out the blog: www.msr-iaido.blogspot.com.
Moorhead Dojo Iaido/kendo seminar and keiko
I'm working with the Midwest Kendo Federation on hosting an annual (hopefully) iaido seminar and kendo keiko event. It would consist of a Friday evening kendo keiko for the early arrivals, Saturday morning iaido seminar, noon kendo keiko, and then afternoon iaido again until 5pm or so. Saturday evening dinner, and then a Sunday morning iaido session until around noon. It would have focus for kendo people interested in learning iaido, as well as current iaido practitioners. We hope to have at least one or two high ranked sensei come in (courtesy of the US Kendo Federation) and present/teach. If the turnout is good, we can make this an annual event and (hopefully) get the appropriate funding from the kendo federation as well.
I'm VERY excited about this, and am hoping to find a good venue somewhere in the FM area to host this. We need a place with at least 11 foot ceilings, and hopefully a wood or tile floor. We would need that for both Saturday all day and Sunday to early afternoon. If anybody has any ideas, please PM me.
General Calendar of Events
This is a general list of iaido-related events that we can look forward to.
May - Kim Taylor's annual iaido/jodo seminar in Guelph, ON. Excellent seminar! Opportunity to test for rank. (2-4 days)
June - Annual AUSKF (US Kendo Federation) summer camp. 2011 will be in Cleveland. Excellent seminar and an opportunity to test for rank. (3-4 days)
July - Red River Valley fair. Not completely sure if we are going to be there again, but I hope to be able to give at least one demo on their side stage.
Sometime July to September - Our FIRST and hopefully Annual Moorhead Dojo kendo/iaido seminar and keiko. This is going to be big! (2 days) See notes above.
October - Fargo All Martial Arts Seminar and Cancer benefit. This will be our 3rd annual. Lots of schools and styles will be there! (2 days)
October - Thunder Bay iaido seminar. Usually 2 days, and good content! Within driving distance.
November - Possibly a demo at the Japan Club event.
November - Pangea culture festival (demo).
Well, that's about it for now. I wish everyone a happy and healthy holidays.