Thursday, March 27, 2014

March Newsletter

Spring is in the air!

It looks like spring is just around the corner, and we can finally say goodbye to old man winter. I know he's hung around a bit too long and worn out his welcome.

Open Enrollment

Speaking of welcome, we'd like to invite visitors or prospective students to our dojo in April as we open enrollment to the public again.

Dates: Visitors can visit during our regular Wednesday evening practices on either the 2nd, or 9th.

Time: Classes are Wednesdays from 6:30 to 9:30 pm. People wishing to visit should come around 7pm after we've had a chance to warm up and start our routine a bit.

Location: We're in a warehouse-type building in the alley around 506 Oak St N., Fargo ND 58103. It's basically at the end of Oak street before you hit the train tracks. We share the space with the Hidden Teachings karate school.

If you're planning on visiting, we always appreciate a head's up just to let us know.

Testing - Congratulations!

Congratulations goes to Shawn J, who received his 3kyu, Andrew M. - 4kyu, Mike S. - 4kyu, and Andy R. - 4kyu. Way go to fellas!

Up until now, the first "rank" in our dojo has been 4kyu. I've added an additional rank of 5kyu which we'll be implementing going forward. The thought behind this new, and additional rank is to give members a taste of our koryu, Musoshindenryu, before they get into the more restricted seitei iaido.

I believe that by introducing the first four kata of the Shoden series, students will have a better base of the kihon (fundamentals). Shohatto, Sato, Uto, and Atarito are all performed from seiza, much like the first three kata in seitei. The nice thing about these first koryu kata is that they are all essentially the same kata, just performed from four different starting directions. I think this will help reinforce the critical movements we need to master in iaido, and give the beginning student slightly less rigid requirements as found in seitei.

We'll see how it goes after a class or two have started this way, but I think it will be a positive change, and I'm looking forward to getting back to koryu on a more regular basis.

CoreCon 2014

I'm hoping to have our dojo participate again in the CoreCon this spring. The Con has changed from May to Mid-June, this year, so hopefully we can put on our regular demonstration and discussion. We've had pretty good attendance at our panel since we started doing this in 2008. Look for more news on that to come!

AUSKF Summer Camp

The AUSKF summer camp will be held in New York this year, June 12-15. I'm hoping that some members from our dojo will be able to attend this wonderful educational and testing opportunity.

The AUSKF has stated that they will try to hold each year's camp in one of three "regional" parts of the country. Last year it was in the "central" region, this year East, and next year it will be out West somewhere. It makes travel a little expensive, but hopefully a person will be able to attend at least one in three camps near their regional federation.

Other Stuff

Just a reminder for all current students that we are able to wear our black hakama on the first practice of the month.

Reishiki (Etiquette)

This is a good topic to review sometimes, especially for any new members.

When we start and end our practice, the reishiki or etiquette is an important aspect.

Opening
  1. (Standing) All turn to shommen. Sensei / lead student calls out, "Shommen ni rei." All bow to shommen. 
  2. "Suwatte" (sit down). Everyone sits in seiza and places their katana to the right of where they're sitting, tsuka forward w/ tsuba at their knee. 
  3. Lead student calls, "Mokuso!" Everyone meditates until the lead student again calls, "Yame!" (Stop/Quit) 
  4. Lead student calls, "Sensei ni rei!" All members bow to the sensei and say, "Onegaishimasu!" (Pronounced oh-nay-gai-shimasu). 
  5. Everyone takes and places their katana at a slightly L-R rising angle, centered in front of them with room enough to place their hands when they bow. 
  6. Lead student calls, "To-rei!" Everyone performs the bow to the sword, starting left hand down, right hand down , right back up, left back up. 
  7. Everyone puts the katana into their obi and ties their sageo (without looking), and then waits patiently in seiza. 
  8. Sensei calls, "Tatte kudasai" (Please rise / stand up) and everyone rises and awaits further instruction. 

Closing - the closing is pretty much the same as the opening, just in reverse, and with different responses from the students to the sensei.
  1. "Suwatte" (sit down). Everyone sits in seiza, unhooks their sageo (without looking) and places their katana horizontally, tsuka to the left. 
  2. Lead student calls, "To-rei!" Everyone performs the bow to the sword, starting left hand down, right hand down , right back up, left back up. 
  3. Everyone gathers the sageo, and places the katana to the right of where they're sitting, tsuka forward w/ tsuba at their knee. 
  4. Lead student calls, "Sensei ni rei!" All members bow to the sensei and say, "Domo arigato gozaimashita!" (Thank you very much) 
  5. Lead student calls, "Mokuso!" Everyone meditates until the lead student again calls, "Yame!" (Stop/Quit) 
  6. Everyone takes their katana, gathers the sageo if necessary, and places it on their left thigh with the tsuka-gashira on centerline and waits patiently for instruction from the sensei. 
  7. Sensei calls, "Tatte kudasai" (Please rise / stand up) and everyone rises, turns and faces shommen. 
  8. Sensei / Lead student calls, "Shommen ni rei!" and all members bow to shommen. 
  9. Everyone finishes the bow, and then steps back three steps starting with their left foot, turns right, and exits the practice floor and goes over to wait by the sensei for closing remarks and announcements. 

Reishiki is at the very core of the Japanese sword arts of kendo and iaido. According to the Zen Nihon Kendo Renmei (All Japan Kendo Federation) who is our ultimate authority on kendo / iaido, the concept of kendo is defined as follows:

"The concept of Kendo is to discipline the human character through the application of the principles of the Katana (sword)."

Further, the purpose of kendo:

"The purpose of practicing Kendo is:
To mold the mind and body,
To cultivate a vigorous spirit,
And through correct and rigid training,
To strive for improvement in the art of Kendo,
To hold in esteem human courtesy and honor,
To associate with others with sincerity,
And to forever pursue the cultivation of oneself.
This will make one be able:
To love his/her country and society,
To contribute to the development of culture
And to promote peace and prosperity among all peoples."


(The Concept of Kendo was established by All Japan Kendo Federation in 1975.)

Even though these specifically refer to kendo, I think that we could simply substitute the word "iaido" for "kendo" and they would be equally applicable.

While these concepts may not be apparent to newer students, over time, and with a good instructor, they will become a core part of the dojo and hopefully it's members.

Happy spring!

Brad