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.

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

April Newsletter

Okay, so it is almost the last day of April, but here’s the April newsletter anyway!

CoreCon Demo

In April we performed a demonstration at the Fargo CoreCon convention. I knew it was going to be fun when I saw two kids running around outside with their newly aquired magic wands repeatedly yelling, “Stupify” at each other. It didn’t stick around to see who beat who, but it looked like they wer having fun.
The demo was a good chance for some of the newer members of the dojo to perform their kata in front of people for the first time, and to expose more people to this unique art that we do. One of the coordinators of the event said that we had the biggest attendance for a Sunday event ever, so that shows that at least people were interested in seeing what we do. Thank you to Kelly, Joey, Erik, Tyler, and Sarah for coming out and participating. We did a variety of seitei and Musoshindenryu kata, and some partner work with bokuto to further explain the techniques found in the kata.
Next year it’s in May, and hopefully they’ll have Butterbeer again – that was yummy!

June rank testing

We’ll be having rank testing in June for dojo members. There should be a couple of people able to try for their first rank of 4kyu, as well as a couple more going for 3kyu. I’d like to have testing in Early June to keep in line with the AUSKF Iaido summer camp, also held in June. Members wishing to test for 1kyu or above must do so at such an event – I’m only allowed to test up to 2kyu in the dojo myself.
Testing for the next rank requires a “time-in-rank” before attempting the next level, and so I want to get in synch with the camp for future tests. 1kyu to Shodan is 6 months, Shodan to (2) Nidan is 1 year, Nidan to (3) Sandan is 2 years, and so on. Basically, whatever dan level you are is the number of years you must wait to test for the next rank.
Testing requires a performance of 5 selected kata from the seitei series for ranks up to 3 dan, and then 4 seitei plus one koryu kata for ranks 4 dan and above. This can vary by federation, but that’s generally the schedule.
Another requirement of testing is a written test. For national events, applicants must choose 2 of 3 questions to write answers / essays for. Questions consist of terminology or concepts consistent with studying kendo or iaido and it’s underlying philosophy. I incorporate these kinds of questions in my rank testing at the Moorhead Dojo as well.
Myself and Kelly will both be testing at the Summer Camp in June, and are getting very excited about that event! It will be my first time to test in the US for rank, and I’m anxious to see the similarities and differences to what I experienced in Japan. Luckily, one of the attending sensei from Japan was also my regional sensei back in Shizuoka, a Mr. Yamazaki sensei. I’m looking forward to catching up with him too!
Better start hitting the books and the dojo in preparation for that!
Speaking of the philosophy of budo, I’m always impressed with the kenshi247.net site. The writers there often translate writings that are unique and some quite old by masters of the sword. One recent article that I really enjoyed was written by a high school student in Japan. I’m reprinting it here with the author’s permission. The complete article and subsequent comments, etc can be found here: kenshi247.net/blog/2011/03/25/i-am-a-deshi/
————– Start ————–
Even if Japanese is not our main language, in a kendo environment we often use the Japanese term “sensei” to mean teacher. What about the other 1/2 of the equation, the student? I can’t recall any Japanese terms being used in any of the 10+ countries I’ve had the fortune to do kendo in.
Traditionally, when someone joins a dojo there are a couple of terms used to express “student”: monkasei (門下生) and deshi (弟子). There are some other terms (e.g. 門弟 or 門人), but those two seem to be the main ones used. Unless you are part of a koryu dojo, or watch and read anime/manga, you will probably never come across the first term. The second term, however, is still used – though uncommonly I must admit – in the Japanese kendo community today.
As regular readers probably know, I run a high school kendo club here in Osaka. When I first started teaching my sensei turned to me and said:

お前も弟子がおるぞ
Now you’ve got your own deshi.

This kind of stopped me on my tracks: “deshi… what should I do?” I thought.
Rather than attempt to explain the meaning of “deshi” myself, let me translate a piece from a 13 year old kendoka from Kyushu that I found in this months Kendo Jidai.
p.s. Please check out this old article after you read the one below.


The following essay was awarded the kantosho prize in the Junior High School section of the “32nd kendo youth research seminar.”
I am a deshi
Written by: Hasuda Tomoka
1st year Junior high school student (approx. 13yrs old)
Miyazaki prefecture, Miyazaki city, Shujakukan dojo
Suddenly, after keiko one day my sensei said “you are my deshi.” I was surprised at the suddenness of words, but I was also happy that he called me “deshi.” However, I somehow felt strange. Its because I didn’t actually understand the word “deshi” or what being one means or involves. I thought hard about the meaning of the word and searched out information about it in books and dictionaries. I discovered that “deshi” is part of a “teacher-student” relationship (師弟の関係). On one side of the coin we have the teacher – one with technical skill based on, and knowledge cultivated through experience – who imparts this through instruction; and on the other side we have the deshi, who learns from and studies under the teacher. In a dojo environment, the sensei are the teachers, and we are are the deshi.
So, what is a deshi’s job? What is a deshi supposed to do? A deshi has many various jobs to learn, including seeing off and meeting the sensei when they come to the dojo (shiai), getting any shopping thats needed (for the dojo and/or sensei), taking care of various things around the sensei (to do with the dojo) etc. In kendo, for example, tidying up/putting away the sensei’s bogu and making sure he is comfortable are both part of the deshi’s job.
I started taking tea to the sensei after keiko when I was a 6th grade primary school student (11/12yrs old). This started because my sensei said “bring me tea,” but now it just natural happens. During that short interval, sensei gives me praise, or brings my bad points to attention.
We also talk a lot about non-kendo things as well. What my future dreams are, whats going on at school, the taikai my sensei goes to, the change in seasons, etc all of these are valuable conversations for me. On the occasion that visitors came to keiko, I brought them tea as well. At that time I was told to sit in the corner and listen to the conversation (between the adults). I couldn’t really understand what was being talked about but my sensei said later “even if you can’t understand whats being said, even if you are not part of the conversation, listening to other peoples stories and conversation is important. There will come a time when you will understand.” When he said this to me I pondered that the chance to listen in on these conversations was something different when compared to my usual daily life, and approached these chats with a new feeling.
Another thing that I pay attention to is when my sensei leaves by car (after keiko). When I see him off, I wait until I can no longer see his car before turning away. I learned this after watching how the Riot Squad Police treated their sensei (its possible she is talking about the elite tokuren kenshi in her prefecture).
By continuing to be a deshi like this I have learned some good things, for example: how to use language properly (i.e. learning to by polite in Japanese) and how to be sensitive to nuances in peoples conversations, so now I am at ease with speaking to people who are my superior (i.e. by rank, age, profession, etc). There are other things as well, for example I am able to think and predict what sensei will say/want next, and am already in motion before anything is actually said.
At one time, my sensei told me that deshi have responsibilities. I didn’t really understand what these could be and I thought about it to myself. I think a deshi’s responsibility/job is to keep whats taught to them by their sensei and act within there limits, and to pass these teachings onto their kohai. I still don’t have the ability to do this, so in the meantime I will try my best at keiko, and aim to become a good sempai in the future.
At first I didn’t really know what it means to be a “deshi,” but thanks to everything that my sensei has taught me, I think I am getting closer to understanding the true meaning. Ever since becoming a deshi my sensei has shouted at me a lot; but since there few people around to scold me, I am thankful that he is there, as I know it for my own benefit.
From now on, through kendo and as a deshi/person, I want to keep learning about life.


Source

剣道時代2011年4月。「私は弟子です」。蓮田和佳。

——————————— End of article ————————
Now isn’t that just cool?

Moorhead Dojo / MWKF Summer Iaido Seminar

July 29 – 31

Our First Annual seminar is coming up! We’ve got Konno sensei (7dan kendo, 7dan iaido) coming and we’re still trying to get one more sensei for this great event! It’s open to kenshi who have any level of iaido experience, as well as people who want to start studying iaido. Complete details can be seen at seminar.musoshindenryu.com. For planning purposes, pre-registration is strongly encouraged, and there is a discount for early registration.
We’ll have three excellent vendors there selling iaito and gear too!
See you next month.
Brad

Core Con and Other Upcoming Events

Hello everyone! Spring melt is starting up, and I sincerely hope that wherever you are, you won’t have to deal with any flooding. I know they’re estimating Fargo – Moorhead Red River levels to be pretty high again, and the community is moving well towards it’s sandbagging goal.

We’ve got a few events coming up. I’ve got some detail updates for you.

2011 CoreCon – April 15- 17th
The Musoshindenryu Iaido – Moorhead Dojo group (us) will be doing a demonstration on Sunday the 17th.

1PM-3PM Sunday, April 17th
Japanese Swordsmanship
Presented by Moorhead Iaido Dojo
Woods Room

The Moorhead Dojo will present a two hour discussion on the history and traditions of iaido (Japanese swordsmanship), followed by a demonstration of kata, some of which have origins dating back over 400 years ago. There will be an opportunity for attendees to ask questions, and view the Dojo Members’ various katana (swords). More information can be found at the dojo website: http://www.musoshindenryu.com/.

CoreCon 2011 will take place at the AmericInn Lodge & Suites and Event Center in Moorhead, MN – the same as last year.

The CoreCon’s website is: http://fargocorecon.org/ and the theme this year is “Myth and Magic.” Sounds interesting, and I would encourage intersted people to check out the whole Con.

THE 2011 SEI DO KAI SPRING JODO and IAIDO SEMINAR
University of Guelph, Ontario Canada, May 20 to 23

This is Kim Taylor Sensei’s annual seminar. Excellent and with some of the top iaido people from Japan coming in to instruct. More details can be seen at: http://www.uoguelph.ca/~iaido/iai.seminar.html

2011 AUSKF Iaido Summer Camp – June 9 – 12th
The dates have been confirmed, all else is tentative right now.

Dates: Thursday, June 9 – Friday, June 10 AUSKF Iaido Seminar
Saturday, June 11 AUSKF Iaido Championships
Sunday, June 12 (morning) AUSKF Iaido Shinsa
Sunday, June 12 (afternoon) AUSKF Jodo Seminar
Monday, June 13 AUSKF Jodo Seminar

Location: Mac Center Gymnasium, Kent State University (KSU), 800 East Summit Street, Kent, OH (pending confirmation in April 2011 after approval of camp budget and submission of deposit to KSU)

Lodging and more details to be announced.

2011 Moorhead Dojo / AUSKF Iaido Seminar (1st Annual) – July 29-31

This is our iaido seminar. We’ve got an application in for two 7dan iaido sensei, and are awaiting their confirmation. The venue and pricing has been set, and we are taking pre-registrations at this time!

This will be an excellent opportunity to see some top notch AUSKF iaido instructors, and brush up on your skills.

We’ve got three, yes THREE excellent vendors coming with iaito, and iaido gear for sale.

Check out the website for registration and seminar information: http://seminar.musoshindenryu.com/

Pre-registration is encouraged!

Thundar Bay – Annual Fall Seminar – October 22nd and 23rd
with Ohmi Goyo Sensei Iaido 7-Dan Renshi

This is another excellent seminar, from our neighbors to the North. Eric Tribe’s dojo hosts this event, and is another great refresher on seitei iaido and some koryu. More information can be seen at: http://my.tbaytel.net/etribe/index.html

So you can see, there’s a bunch of stuff coming up! Hope to see you there!

Brad

Core Con 2010 demo – a big success!

I’d like to personally thank Paul, Kelly, and Bert for all their help setting up and participating in the Core Con demo last Saturday.
We had a pretty good turnout for both the open discussion on Bushido, and especially the demonstration of iaido kata. Each member did excellent demonstrations of kata, and I think the audience enjoyed it very much. There were lots of good questions about the history of iaido/budo, the katana (Japanese sword), and iaido in general.

We demonstrated seven of the twelve All Japan Kendo Federation (Zen Nihon Kendo Renmei) seitei kata. Using bokuto (wooden swords) we broke down several of these, showing the functions of the kata and positions of the enemy. I think this helped the audience better understand the movements we were making and the underlying meanings of the patterns.

I performed several of the Musoshindenkoryu kata (dating back over 400 years) and answered questions about that.

Paul Dyer (4kyu) wrote up a brief article:
“A day to remember, a moment for the learning and sharing with others, the Moorhead iaido dojo presented a demonstration at the Core Con 2010. There are many reasons for people to attend this grand event, but one we do know is to understand the art of Bushido from the art form of iaido. Sensei Bradley Anderson developed an open forum of communication with the audience. Many asked questions, but very few understood the importance of patience and the meaning of Bushido. In the art of iaido, there is a quiet enemy within. The enemy becomes larger through our lifetime, and in the practice of iaido there is a battle of peace and unrest happening within our self. In iaido we study and learn how to defeat the unrest within ourselves. This was explained in the demonstration, both verbally and visually.”

“A warrior must cultivate the feeling that he has everything needed for the extravagant journey that is his life. What counts for a warrior is being alive. Life in itself is sufficient, self-explanatory and complete. Therefore, one may say without being presumptuous that the experience of experiences is being alive.”
~ Carlos Castaneda quotes

That’s about it for now.
Brad