Well, we're halfway through August and in need of an update.
July SeminarOur July Seminar went really well! We had a total of 26 participants plus the two AUSKF sensei that we invited. We had people from all over Canada, the Midwest region of the US, and even Alaska.
The instruction was excellent, and a special thank you goes out to Konno and Parker sensei for leading the seminar, and also to Taylor and Tribe sensei for stepping in and helping instruct all of the different levels of participants we had.
And we did have ALL levels of iaido experience represented. There were some people who had never done iai before at all. Some who had only done kendo, and some with years of iaido practice. Regardless of rank or experience, we ALL learned something new and valuable - it was a great experience!
One of the things I took away from this seminar included a new way of thinking about and executing "Iai-goshi," making sure our hips are turned properly to point our belly button either straight ahead or angled upwards as we rise and execute the first step of kata like mae.
Also, a refining of how to do proper tenouchi with less "wringing" and more control with your small fingers on the tsuka. Konno sensei also explained about "kiri-te" or cutting hand, and how to move and draw nukitsuke in a better way.
There were many other basic kihon items that we covered, and my notebook is filling up as I try to remember and jot them all down for continuing practice and review.
We also had an excellent demonstration of seitei jodo by Taylor and Tribe sensei, along with a basic explanation of what is happening in each kata. I'm hoping to introduce some jodo sometime in the future - it's a very nice addition to training in iaido.
The Olson Forum was very nice and roomy, and the floors were pretty good for iai. Dormitory accommodations brought back memories of the hot, arid evenings without air conditioning, but the price was right, and they were located within 3 minutes walk of the venue.
The dinner in Downtown Fargo at the Green Market Kitchen was very tasty, and they did the best they could (considering they have a single chef) to get everything out to us hot and in a timely manner.
I'd like to thank the members of my dojo and also Ron Fox who helped out with the organization and execution of the seminar. I couldn't have done it without you, and the success of this seminar will hopefully lead to becoming an annual event for us. Thanks again!
Summer practiceIn addition to our standard seitei and Musoshindenryu kata, we've been practicing some new (paired) kendo kata in our class this summer. It's been a (re)learning process for me - I haven't done kendo kata since about 1999, and we've all been picking it up pretty well.
Kendo kata is a great supplement to iai kata in that it teaches the kenshi about timing, sen, metsuke, and seme. All of the kamae (stances) are the same as what we perform in our regular kata, and learning to work with and time your movements with a partner is a wonderful learning tool. I look forward to some "professional review" by a better qualified sensei somewhere down the road to make sure we're not doing anything obviously wrong. At the seminar we did have an opportunity to see Konno and Fox sensei perform the kata for us - very nice, and it shows we still have a long way to go in refining our technique!
RRV FairA few members of the dojo gave some demos at the Red River Valley Fair in July. We had 3 demos at the Scheels stage, where we performed kata, explained about the history and theory of iaido, showed our iaito and bokuto, and had the children do some practice cutting of newspaper with bokuto.
Thanks goes to Paul, Gary, and Tyler for participating in this and showing the attendees a bit of Japanese culture (and how to be an awesome newspaper cutter).
You may laugh and think, "Cut newspaper with a wooden sword??" Actually it's not as easy as you might think. The "blade" of the bokuto is dull and rounded, and only with good swinging technique and speed of the blade will you be able to cut cleanly and straight.
We sometimes practice this in the dojo, and it is a cheap way to test your cutting technique. The dojo record for most layers of newspaper cut cleanly with a single cut is 32. Pretty cool!
Rank TestingWe held rank testing in the dojo in June for 3 and 4kyu students. Congratulations goes to Tyler, Gary, and Sarah who achieved their first rank of 4kyu, and also to Erik and Joey who achieved their 3kyu.
The requirements for 3kyu are for a student to perform 5 selected kata from the seitei series. Beyond just performing the movements correctly, they must show some indication of timing and smoothness in their execution, and a beginner's understanding of jo-ha-ku.
Again, congratulations to all who tested!
Upcoming EventsWe don't have anything in particular on the schedule for our dojo for the rest of the year. We may be invited back to the Pangea festival in November, so that might be a possible demonstration we'll have. Beyond that, we'll keep you posted if something comes up.
In Thunder Bay, Ontario, there is an excellent annual seminar being hosted by Eric Tribe sensei on October 22-23. Instruction will be led by Ohmi and Taylor sensei and there will be a rank testing opportunity available as well. More information can be found about that at: http://my.tbaytel.net/etribe/Seminars.html
The 3rd Annual Fargo All Martial Arts Seminar and Cancer benefit will be held on November 12-13. We're still looking for martial arts groups and dojo to come and participate. The proceeds go to the Roger Maris Cancer Center. People interested participating in or contributing to this seminar should contact Paul Dyer at paul(at)fargoallmartialarts(dot)com.
That's about it - enjoy the rest of your summer!