Disclaimer and Stuff

Firstly I would like to say that all of the material contained within this blog is of my own opinion and any inaccuracies in technical content or other's personal quotations are completely my own.

Secondly I would like to thank everyone in advance where I have used photos of you or photos you have taken. I have quite a library of digital photos and virtually no record of who took them so I hope you will take this general thanks as adequate gratitude. If there are any photos of you or taken by you that you would like removed please let me know.

Thirdly, some articles have been published on my dojo website if you would like to read them in an easier format

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7th dans achieved. Come and visit Ryoshinkan Iaido and Jodo Dojo Website at www.ryoshinkan.org

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Gothenburg Iaido Seminar

Right, I was putting off writing this as I was so busy and realised there was looooot of information to capture. It was an absolutely excellent seminar as these smaller ones tend to be. I think a lot of people have sensed that Ishido Sensei tends to toe the line when he is with a big delegation but offers fantastic personal experiences when there is only one or two other teachers with him. I will cut through all the timetable stuff: we spent day one doing seitei and day two doing koryu with a taikai and a grading.

I grabbed sensei to the side during one of the breaks to ask him about the 'feeling' of the kissaki when sayabanare takes place during nukitsuke. On a previous post I had noted that the three options that I had played with were:
  1. To begin tensing the tsuka so that the kissaki leapt out of the koiguchi.
  2. To keep the right hand relaxed and gradually accelerate the kissaki on sayabanare
  3. To keep the mune slightly pressed against the base of the saya and bring the sword level before the kissaki advances.
The answer I got was so simple I should have anticipated being surprised (which is logically the most stupid thing to write): the feeling should be to make the kissaki move forwards. Making it travel out sideways to conclude with a sideways cutting action is not correct. The sword must make a forward cutting action.

I am kicking myself a bit because I have translated numerous times his explanation on how and why sayabiki works which captures this forward movement quite elegantly. Still it now leaves me to work on creating this forward movement in the most relaxed fashion.

Now to go through the kata one by one:

  1. Mae - nothing much to say here. The kata is so intricately described that just doing it right is a rewarding thing.
  2. Ushiro - the option of rotating while the feet stand is applicable for nidan's and above. Sensei explained and demonstrated how the kata could be done with someone a) completely obstructing the clockwise direction and b) partially blocking the anti-clockwise direction. The effect of course was an action made similarly to Atarito where the majority of the draw happens in a rearward direction. It was also emphasised how important it was to maintain one's new centreline once turned and moving into furikaburi. Using Lukasz as a foot model he also showed how lifting the heel was important in moving forwards in furikaburi adequately.
  3. Ukenagashi - here is where the fun started. I should add that I am unsure how much of this following explanation is Ishido Sensei (and his dojo's) own interpretation of Ukenagashi and how much comes from on high. Anyway, the process of movement was now a) to prepare by placing the hands and looking up to the left, b) to raise the hips and position the feet simultaneously with elevating the sword up to the chest with the minimum of sayabiki, c) to stand and draw the last 75% of the sword in one action. This has an interesting effect of making the vital part of the form happen naturally very quickly. It is also very easy to make it busy and I spent quite a lot of time constructing the kata in slow bite-sized portions (it tasted of chicken).
  4. Tsukaate - again not much to say

Gaaahhh....just been kidnapped by Munchkins - call the wizard!

Monday, 4 July 2011

Iaido Training Session 62 - Isle of Widget

I am calling this a standard Iaido Training Session as within 1 1/4 hrs of being left alone in Vic Cook's home dojo I managed to do more training than I normally do in 2 hrs in our dojo.

Harry and me were visiting Vic and Terri for a few days to primarily help Vic with his 6th dan Jodo prep. On the last evening there we asked Vic if we could use the dojo to do some free practice and for him to come and have a look after an hour and give some feedback.

His dojo is amazing. One can only get about 4-6 people doing Iaido at the same time and maybe 2 pairs doing Jodo but the floor is great, the dojo looks fantastic and there is a delightful smell of fresh wood. I only remember that smell being actually inside a building while in temples in Japan.

Anyway, Harry and I went through Seitei then I went into Omote, trying to work on technical correctness and body movement throughout the forms. Towards the end I did a hayanuki run-through to get my beats up a bit.

It was while on the Island that I had what I can only call a moment of epiphany while watching a falconry display. One of the birds demonstrated was the peregrine falcon which, to my surprise, turns out to the fastest animal on the planet (and not the swift). It was explained that they carry no fat, they are pure muscle unlike other birds of prey like the bald eagle.

Above: The peregrine falcon - all muscle; Below: The bald eagle - a lard arse of a bird.

Anyway, seeing the falcon in action just made me realise that part of my challenge to myself for 6th dan must be about losing more weight and getting fitter. I'm not planning to be able to fly at 250mph but I do notice that there aren't many fat 8th dan hanshi's in iaido. And so begins my 1,940 calories per day diet to get me down to 80kg...

Anyway, back to the dojo. I asked Vic to watch an embu of me doing five koryu and three seitei including my target forms. At the end he gave me some very useful feedback saying:

  1. My iaido was sometimes so fast that it wasn't telling the story and I had to make greater contrast in my timing.
  2. That my nukitsuke also tended to stall a bit at sayabanare.
  3. That my outer technical side was very good but my sense of timing within had to be more evident.

Anyway it was a really good opportunity to do some personal training (one small box ticked) and get some feedback so well worth it.

Now onto the Gothenburg seminar writing marathon...