Remote Dojo Learning – How’s it Going?

It’s obvious to say that we’ve all been impacted by the Covid epidemic in some shape or form. Our personal lives have been disrupted, plans changed or even cancelled, and social norms altered.

Our dojo has had quite a change in the way we’re trying to stay current in our training, retain membership, and even encourage new people to join. When the epidemic hit and we were forced to terminate training as a group, we started to explore the virtual options available. Zoom became our go-to for virtual meets and all members of the dojo were tasked with finding and sharing creative ways to continue their training, either physically or mentally.

We continued meeting virtually at least once a week, with a designated leader and a rough agenda. Some of the topics we covered over a period of a couple months included:

  1. How much Covid sucks and how our lives are impacted
  2. Tricks and techniques for studying at home with limited space and low ceilings
  3. Concepts, terminology, history of the art and budo in general
  4. Video watch and then critique of students and instructors
  5. How much Covid sucks and how our lives are impacted

We had some really great classes!

It wasn’t a substitute for in-person learning, but WAS a good practice in “mitori-geiko” or learning through watching. It WAS a good practice in critical thinking and the use of video to see mistakes we make but are unaware of. It WAS a good practice in learning some of the key philosophical concepts in Japanese swordsmanship.

And it WAS a great way to stay connected with the people you know and love in the dojo.

I learned how to use a FedEx envelope under my knee to practice sliding through furikaburi on carpet. I learned how to adapt with a kodachi bokuto when the ceilings were low and still be able to do at least the basic patterns and kata. I learned how to drop and rise more gracefully while performing the Omori-ryu chiburi. Lots of great stuff that was ALL contributed by students!

I think we under-utilize our students in our dojo classes, and now I’m going to have to re-think how to better utilize their creativity and ideas where appropriate.

Now we’re back in the dojo, though in much smaller numbers. We’re still utilizing Zoom in our practice and want remote members to continue to join and learn – even if it is a form of mitori-geiko. The challenges with the online learning is that we’re not able to easily view and offer feedback for those who actually are moving through the kata and physically practicing in some space of their own. That’s something we’re going to have to do some serious consideration and adapt until we’re ALL back in the dojo.

We’re actually opening enrollment again too! I’m cautiously excited to see how this works with instruction of new people while maintaining the appropriate distance, and with fewer in-person senpai to assist. Can a virtual senpai be utilized for new beginners? Good question.

It is a brave new world, and we’ll just have to adapt!

“We don’t want to change. Every change is a menace to stability.”
― Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

While Sensei is Away

While sensei is away…
I was unable to make class last week due to other family commitments, but I had full confidence that my classes would be run and taught well while I was gone. My two senior senpai Kelly J Maier and Michael Schuldt do an excellent job of filling in when needed, and I know I can depend upon them to instruct the other students in the manner consistent with myself.

I think it benefits everyone to be put into a leadership position.

It benefits the senpai, because teaching also adds insight and wisdom into your own techniques. Sometimes showing something to others reveals flaws in our own techniques, which we can correct.

It benefits students, because they’re hearing things from a different person in perhaps a different way. Sometimes impact is added to the message if it’s delivered differently. Also, when senpai lead, they sometimes do drills or activities that we haven’t done in a while or try something new and that brings variety and growth as well.

I’m very happy that I know I can trust the senpai to lead while I’m gone.

December Newsletter

Happy Holidays!

Christmas is just around the corner, and it’s been a good year for our dojo!

Some highlights from 2013

  • Membership increase from open enrollment. We’re now up to eight regularly practicing students – the highest we’ve had since the dojo was founded in 2007. I anticipate another one or two more will rejoin or join in the next open enrollment in 2014 as well.
  • Advancement. We’ve now got a Shodan (1st dan – black belt equivalent), three 2kyu, and one 4kyu student. I anticipate everyone will be ranked or jump a rank within the next 4 months or so. We’ve got some people who began in July who are almost ready to attempt their first test – 4kyu.
  • CoreCon demo. Several members participated in the CoreCon event in Moorhead last May. We performed seitei, Musoshindenryu, and Tachi-Uchi-no-Kurai kata. It was our 5th appearance there, and we’re already looking forward to next year’s event!
  • Pangea Culture Festival booth and demo. This was our 4th year there, and there was a huge number of people who watched the demo given by Erik, Andrew, Tyler, and Andy. See the following article for more information on that.
  • Volunteering at the Emergency Food Pantry. Several members of the dojo took one of our practice sessions and volunteered at the Emergency Food Pantry here in Fargo. They serve families in the community by providing a week’s worth of food for families in emergency situations. We volunteered there to sort through several pallets of food that they had received from the recent “Fill the dome” event. I appreciate everyone who could make it and the positive spirit of donating time for this very worthwhile service.
  • Crystal Lake, IL seminar. I traveled to Crystal Lake, IL to give a two day seitei iaido seminar for several people at the Abiding Spirit Aikido Center. The Abiding Spirit Center is one of the few places in the Northwest suburbs offering training in Iaido. It was a great seminar and I really enjoyed going there and meeting some new folks. I hope to return in 2014 if possible.

Looking forward to 2014
We’ve got a few big things coming up this year, and I’m very excited!

  • AUSKF Educational tour – Iaido seminar. We will be hosting our third annual iaido seminar here in Fargo, ND on Feb 4-5. This year will be extra special, as we are also an official stop on the AUSKF Iaido Educational Tour. We will be hosting Chihiro Kishimoto sensei, Kazuma Okuda sensei, and Shozo Kato sensei. Simply stated, it’s going to be awesome! Details and registration for the seminar can be found at http://seminar.musoshindenryu.com.
  • Open enrollment – sometime in Feb after the seminar.
  • Iaido seminar – Visit to Des Moines to present a small seitei iaido seminar for Ric Flinn’s members at the Des Moines Iaido dojo.
  • CoreCon Demo – May 2014
  • AUSKF Iaido Summer Camp – June 2014
  • Pangea Culture Festival – Nov 2014

I’m hoping to see our dojo continue to mature and some of the senior ‘kyu’ ranks test up and continue to advance in seitei. I’m also starting to introduce more people (as they’re able) to the koryu Musoshindenryu. We’re going to continue working through those kata, and also continue polishing our paired Tachi Uchi no Kurai kata.

It’s going to be a great year!

The following article was submitted by senpai Erik Ness. Erik currently holds the rank of 2kyu, and led the demo at the Pangea Culture festival held here in Moorhead last month.

2013 Pangea Moorhead, MN

The 2013 Pangea Culture Festival was held November 9, 2013, at the Hjemkomst Center in Moorhead, MN. The Pangea is a celebration of the community’s traditions and cultures in a multi-ethnic showcase of music, dance, culinary arts, and children’s activities. This event was free and open to the public.

The Musoshindenryu Agassiz Dojo presented the art of Japanese Swordsmanship. This demonstration was well-received as evidenced by the number of people in the audience.
The demonstration started out with kata from the koryu style of Musoshindenryu. The members then introduced the audience to some of the etiquette (reishiki) and seitei kata. A brief history of Musoshindenryu was next followed by tachi-uchi no kurai, a paired kata in which the practitioners use bokken, or wooden swords. The demonstration ended with more seitei and koryu kata.

Seitei iaido is “standard” iaido which is taught and studied by members of the All Japan Kendo Federation. There are 12 kata that originate from three major styles of iaido. Seitei allows practitioners from different styles and countries to practice the same kata consistently.

Following the demonstration, the audience was invited to view the member’s iaito (dull swords), bokken, and hakama (traditional uniform). The younger members of the audience had an opportunity to hold the iaito and have their pictures taken with the demonstrators.

In addition to demonstrating kata, the Musoshindenryu Agassiz Dojo had a booth in which people had an opportunity to view videos of high level practitioners showcasing their kata and hold iaito and bokken with assistance. Another interesting aspect of the Pangea was that the children were given a ‘passport’ and at each booth they visited, the children got a sticker to put in the passport. The sticker that the Musoshindenryu Agassiz Dojo passed out was Japan.
Member participating in the demonstration included: Erik Ness, Tyler Wilson, Andrew Mueller and Andy Ryan.

The Musoshindenryu Agassiz Dojo was honored to present during the Pangea festival and are hopeful for a return in 2014.

  
   

Congratulations

Congratulations goes to Tyler Wilson on achieving his 2kyu ranking.
Congratulations goes to Shawn Johnston on achieving his 4kyu ranking.

Our dojo rank system starts with 4kyu. Students who have completed at least 6 months of practice and can show a competent level of understanding of basic reishiki (etiquette), and the first five kata in the seitei series can test for 4kyu. After that the ranks progress as 3kyu, and 2kyu. After achieving 2kyu, students must then attend a regional/national AUSKF event and test in front of a board of judges. First kyu (1kyu) is the last of the kyu ranks, and then it starts with Shodan (1dan) and on up. Currently the highest “dan” ranking that can be tested for in the IKF is 8th Dan. The two sensei that are coming for our seminar in February both hold this highest ranking.

Food pantry photos

So, we’ve got a lot coming up.

I’d especially like to thank the senpai Kelly and Erik for helping out over the last few months especially. It’s great to see them and everyone else grow in the art, and personally.

Merry Christmas!
Brad

Leave it at the Door

At the start of our practice after we’ve bowed to shommen and are sitting in seiza, the first thing we do is mokuso. This is a practice that I did in kendo, and thought it was appropriate to carry it through into iaido. We also finish our practice with it in much the same manner.
According to Wikipedia, Mokuso (黙想 mokusō) is a Japanese term for meditation, especially when practiced in the traditional Japanese martial arts. Mokuso (pronounced “moh-kso”) is performed before beginning a training session in order to “clear one’s mind”, very similar to the zen concept of mushin. This term is more formally known to mean, “Warming up the mind for training hard.”
How I describe it to my students is basically, “Leaving what’s outside the dojo, outside the dojo, and preparing ourselves and our minds for what we’re about to do inside the dojo.” In addition, I personally use it to replay in my head what areas of my own upcoming practice I’d like to specifically keep in the back of my mind. Things like, don’t drop the kissaki, take the power out of my arms and put it into my hara, move like a mountain moves, and so on.
I really do think that it helps me focus and begin the practice with the right frame of mind. So much so that if I get off track for some reason or distracted while I’m practicing, I may just sit down and perform mokuso again – especially when I’m practicing solo and get distracted by the phone or visitors.
Mushin, or “no mindedness / without mind” is a concept that applies to all martial arts, but is particularly noted in the sword arts. Essentially, it is a mental state in which the practitioner’s mind is not fixed on or cluttered with thought; but rather open, and without emotion – free to act or react  to their opponent.
Perhaps through countless hours (years?) of practice, our bodies and muscles will eventually “memorize” the movements, freeing our mind from the conscious thoughts of correct movement, posture, etc., and we will finally be able to attain this state of Mushin.
At the end of practice we again perform mokuso, and during this time, I reflect on the things I did well, new “learnings,” and things to work on during the next practice. It’s a mental review of sorts.
Kendo practitioners perform mokuso while breathing in through the nose, and out through the mouth. Perhaps this is to prepare for the breathing used during keiko, or perhaps it’s just a way to relax the body and help attain this state of meditation.
Apart from just being a part of the reishiki of kendo and iaido, I really do believe that performing this ritual helps put us in the right frame of mind to learn, and is a small, yet essential part of the art.

Seminar Reschedule

Some may have already heard, but our planned MWKF/Agassiz Dojo 2nd iaido seminar scheduled for end of July has been postponed until sometime later this fall.
During the spring / summer, there are a bunch of different iaido events that people can attend, and I think that because of the timing, we just weren’t going to have a very good turnout.
Instead, I’m hoping we can plan something for the weekend of November16-18 pending availability of the AUSKF sensei. If people are interested in attending at that time, I’d love to hear a quick reply back so I can have some idea of possible attendees.
Brad

Akemashite Omedetto Gozaimasu!

Well Happy New Year!

In Review

Looking back to 2011, our dojo and members grew and accomlished a lot!

We added two more members to our group, Carl and Kyle. This brings us up to 9 members on paper.

We mentored a dojo in Illinois with 9+ members.

Two of us attended the USKF Iaido Summer camp for the first time. Myself and Kelly.

We hosted our first annual Moorhead/Aggasiz Dojo and MWKF Iaido seminar in Moorhead MN with a whopping 28 attendees from Canada and the US. It was a great success and positive comments all around.

Several dojo members helped present demonstrations at Fargo-Moorhead’s own CoreCon, the Red River Valley Fair, and the Fargo All Martial Arts Seminar.

Two of us (Sarah and myself) attended the RaiUnKai annual iaido seminar in Thunder Bay, Ontario with Ohmi and Taylor sensei presenting and hosted by Eric Tribe sensei. Another great seminar from our neighbors to the North.

We moved not once, but twice to two new dojo locations. We’re now practicing just across the river in Fargo, ND in the dojo we share with the Hidden Teachings karate group. We’re the furthest Eastern part of the warehouse looking building at around 506 Oak Street N. Access is from the alley.

The dojo is a bit longer and narrower than our other location, but Kyoshi Cline has done a very nice job of fixing the place up and making it a true Dojo.

Looking Forward

As we look into 2012, I anticipate we will continue with much the same as we did last year.

We’ll perform demos at the CoreCon in April. Maybe the RRV fair, and maybe at the Pangea culture festival in November.

We’ll probably gain a new member or two.

Several members will attend the 2012 AUSKF Iaido Summer Camp in Tacoma, Washington in June.

We’ll host our second annual Iaido seminar here in Fargo-Moorhead. Hopefully with eqal or better attendance.

We’ll delve more into the paired waza of the kendo kata as well as the Musoshindenryu Tachi Uchi no Kurai sets.

With a higher level of overall experience in the dojo members, we’ll spend more concentrated time on the koryu kata.

We’ll perform tameshigiri hopefully at least a couple of times.

We’ll start preparing for the 2013 bid for the AUSKF Iaido summer camp to be held in Fargo-Moorhead.

We’ll (hopefully) have more member input and content on our Dojo’s blog.

I’ll head to Illinois to do a meet and greet with the group there and do some intensive training.

We’ll train, train, TRAIN!

That’s a lot to look forward to this year.

Kotoshi mo yoroshiku onegaishimasu!

Bradley

January Newsletter

Happy New Year!
I know it’s a little late, but it’s been a busy couple of weeks.
We celebrated the new year with a member’s party at my house last weekend. It was a lot of fun, and we had quite a buffet of foods – everyone brought something delicious, and everyone went home FULL. I’m still enjoying a bit of leftover sake!
A couple of people played the traditional game of GO, and a few of us watched the director’s cut of the original Highlander movie. “There can be only one!”

Dojo News

Testing – everyone passed!

Last week, we had 2 candidates for 4kyu (our first rank) and 2 candidates for 2kyu, and all people passed. Congratulations goes to Erik, Joey for their 4kyu, as well as Kelly and Paul for their 2kyu. Omedetto gozaimasu! We still have a couple of people to test for 4kyu, and will probably do that sometime within the next month as well. Members can test up to 2kyu in the dojo, and after that must attend a Kendo Federation event either at the regional or national level to test further. I and possibly a couple of other members will be heading to Cleveland in June for the national iaido summer camp. It should be great!

New cutting blade

We ordered a cutting blade from Nishijin for 56,000 yen. It’s got a Chinese made carbon steel blade with traditional Japanese made fittings. It’s a bit tip heavy and weighs around 1200g. Can’t wait to cut with it!

Upcoming Events

April- Core Con demonstration
May – Guelph seminar
June 2- AUSKF Iaido summer camp
Mid July or Early August – Moorhead dojo (first annual) MWKF iaido seminar
October – 3rd annual Fargo All Martial arts seminar and cancer benefit

Interesting reading:

I found this article from Kim Taylor sensei about reishiki and thought it was a good read.
Have a good month!
Brad

REISHIKI / ETIQUETTE

Kim Taylor

Just why, exactly, do we bow to the instructor and to our fellow students when we practice the Japanese martial arts. Is there something here that we as free, equal, democratic Canadians should be offended by. After all, many Canadians will no longer consider bowing down to the Royal family, why should we bow to anyone else. To make matters worse, in some arts we bow down to a picture or even crazier, to a wall. Where did this behavior come from.
Right off, let’s make it clear that bowing and the other forms of etiquette in the martial arts do not indicate subservience. They indicate respect which is entirely different. The forms of polite action in the dojo have meaning beyond an acknowledgement of the Japanese root of the arts.

ORIGINS OF REISHIKI IN NORTH AMERICA
It is, of course from their Japanese roots that the etiquette of the martial arts derive. The men and women who first introduced budo to the west also brought the methods of teaching that they were given by their instructors. These methods included reishiki.
After a generation or two in North America the bowing and scraping may be getting to seem a bit artificial. This is only natural since we express our politeness in ways other than the bow. We shake hands, and call people “sir”. We open doors for people. We have dozens of ways to express politeness and respect that we think of about as often as a Japanese would think of bowing, not often.
Perhaps we should examine in further detail just what it is that we are doing when we bow in such a perfunctory way, and how we, as Canadians can use these transplanted rituals to our own advantage.

ORIGINS IN JAPAN

In Japan itself reishiki was developed to a high degree in the Tokugawa period (1603-1868) with various schools of the art arising. The great neo-confucian movement of the age was a major impetus, infusing the act with the hierarchical meaning that it carries today. The idea that all authority came from above and that everyone had his or her own place in the order of things was reinforced by the degree of bowing between people.
The Imperial court had, from earliest history, always stressed reishiki and the bushi (who were originally country bumpkins) had in the course of association picked up the habit. The court of the Shogunate adopted these manners and from them the samurai throughout the country began to use the forms.

REISHIKI FOR THE SAMURAI
It did not take long, however for the bushi to create their own, distinctive forms of etiquette. Even in the Tokugawa era the action of bowing went beyond a simple acknowledgement of authority into the realm of how to act properly at all times.
Put simply, it was reishiki that allowed the Edo samurai to go about his business without giving or taking offence and without letting his alertness drop for a moment. It was a matter of safety as much as a matter of correct action and courtesy. With constant attention paid to each outward movement, the mind of the warrior could not be other than awake at all times. With no daydreaming the possibility of accidents was reduced and no actions were taken (or accepted) that were not intentional.
It is this aspect of the samurai etiquette that is “appended” to the martial arts in this country. The bows are not a form of submission, but a way of practicing safely and with alertness. “Budo begins and ends with Reishiki”. This does not mean that we bob our heads at the start and the finish of a class, it means that Budo is Reishiki. Manners are not “added on”, they are part and parcel of the art.

REISHIKI IN NORTH AMERICA
There is nothing wrong with bowing to your instructor for no other reason than to say thank you. He or she has worked hard for many years to achieve the level of skill that can now be passed on to you. That commitment should be appreciated since the work that has gone before makes your learning easier. The bows and the other forms of politeness then, tell the teacher and yourself that you appreciate the effort and that you respect it enough to give your best effort to learn what you can. In this manner, reishiki has the purpose of forcing you to concentrate on what you are doing.
One of the reasons to take up martial arts training is to lose the ego. If you cannot bow to someone else without feeling as if you are submitting somehow to them, then you have no chance of obtaining egolessness. In this case, the bow is a shock on a fundamental level to the idea of yourself as a distinct entity. This shock is even greater in a society that does not bow any more. The greater the shock to the idea of a distinct self, the more open you will be to new ideas and the greater the chance that you will learn something.
Reishiki goes beyond simply bowing in the modern dojo, just as it did two hundred years ago. Etiquette defines how you enter and leave the room, how you move past your fellow students, how you sit or stand and how you practice. If everyone is following the same code of behavior, everyone will know what to expect in a class. What this means, simply, is that nobody is going to step in front of you when you least expect it and you can worry about other things instead. At the same time, the specific actions of reishiki have the effect of giving you a more alert position so that when the unexpected does occur you can deal with it.

SPECIFIC REISHIKI
Each art and each instructor in the art will establish a distinct code of behavior for the students. The main thing to remember is to act at all times with full awareness of what you are doing and why. What follows is a discussion of several forms of Reishiki that are common to most Japanese dojo.

BOW AT DOJO ENTRANCE
As you enter and leave the specific room or practice area you stop, put your feet together and bow toward the practice surface. This is often described as a prayer to the dojo that you will practice well and hard. If you don’t want to pray to a wood and cement structure, make it a small meditation to yourself. You leave the busy and confused world outside and enter the wholly concentrated world of the dojo. This is the first step and is followed by a series of actions that remind you on a subconscious level that the outside world should be left outside.
On a more mundane level, stopping before you step onto the practice surface is simply good sense. Stepping out without looking can get you hit over the head with a sharp object.

BOW TO SHOMEN
This is a bow performed at the start and end of each class which is directed toward the high point in the room, or perhaps at a photograph, scroll, or even toward a Shinto shrine. The bow is another transition step from the outside world to the dojo. It is also a moment wherein students can reflect on the history of their art since this is the time when gratitude is expressed toward the founder and the previous instructors of the art. Bowing to shomen also reminds you where it is, this is important in how you move around in the dojo.

BOW TO SENSEI
At the start and end of a class, students have a chance to make a formal bow to the instructor. This should be done carefully and with full attention since this is your chance to show your gratitude for the patience and ability of the sensei. It also expresses your willingness to learn and your request to be instructed.
At many times during a class you will have a chance to thank the instructor for advice or correction. By making this bow with full awareness you will ensure that you are paying full attention to what is being said. It is all too easy to half listen and say “thanks” and then go right on practicing something badly.

BOW TO PARTNER
If you have the opportunity to work with a partner, you will bow to each other. Again, bow carefully and with attention. You are saying to your partner, “please practice with me” and “thank you for your cooperation”. A sloppy bow will lead to sloppy practice and the potential for accidents as one student bows while the other attacks.
Always remember that the senior students, and the instructors can tell a lot about your attitude by how you observe the etiquette of the dojo.

SHOES
Shoes or slippers should be worn on the way to the dojo to avoid picking up infections and passing them on to your fellow
students. These shoes are taken off at the practice area and should be lined up neatly facing away from the dojo floor. They are lined up neatly and out of the way simply to prevent someone tripping over your mess. They are lined up ready to be put on as you leave so that there is little fuss at the end of the class. By placing the shoes so that you are ready to leave the class you are showing that you intend to pay attention and learn. If you don’t learn, you can’t leave.

WALKING
All movement in the dojo should be done with full awareness and control at all times. It is considered rude to flap your arms around and swivel your head about as you look at everything except what you should watch. Look where you are going at all times and you will be safe as well as polite.
Walking politely means being able to stop without falling over at any point in your stride, under control. If you pass other students who are practicing, wait until they are finished and see you, don’t disturb them. This is a safety rule as well. If you are moving down a line of seated students, move along behind them, not in front between them and the instructor. This cuts their view and also exposes yourself to attack. In effect you are daring them to attack. This shows that you are not paying attention. If you must pass in front of them extend your right hand and bow forward slightly to apologize for your blocking their view. This places your hand in their view before your body so that they have a chance to stop any potentially dangerous actions. Better to lose a finger than an eye.
A common rule is never to expose your back to the shomen or highest point in the room. High ranking visitors will be seated close to this point and it would be rude to show them your backside. More importantly the rule is an exercise in knowing where you are in relation to the environment at all times.

STANDING
When you are standing it is impolite to slouch against a wall, put your hands in your pockets, cross your legs or generally to be slovenly. All of these prohibitions are to prevent you from moving into a position that exposes you to attack and injury. It would be paranoid to assume that someone is going to sneak up behind you and attack, even during a martial arts class. It is not paranoid to assume that someone might fall into you from behind. By being polite when you stand you are in the best position to prevent an injury to yourself.

SITTING
You should be no less polite when you sit down. In Japan it is generally considered rude and ugly to have your limbs spread out away from your body. Think about this cultural foible in terms of sitting with your legs out in front of yourself during a class. Now think what would happen to your knees if someone were to land on them during a practice. On the other hand think how you would feel if you were to trip and injure a fellow student. Again a rule of etiquette is in reality a safety rule. Your legs and arms should always be tucked in and protected from injury.
The idea that it is rude and unsightly to have your elbows sticking out at the sides is also more than a safety rule, it is a good posture training rule. In almost no case is it of
advantage for a martial artist to have their elbows out away from the centre of the body, so why allow students to get into the habit.

WEAPONS
The majority of the rules of etiquette in the modern Japanese budo can be traced to the use and practice of the sword. With several students swinging very sharp blades at the same time, certain modes of behavior were developed for the sake of safety. When the swordsman moved out of the dojo the need for a code of behavior that kept the swords inside the scabbards was even more obvious. In fact, one of the excuses for a fight was the practice of saya ate or hitting someone’s scabbard with your own as you passed. Passing on the right side of another swordsman thus became a dangerous (and then rude) practice. One passed so that one’s sword was out of reach. It also became polite behavior to place your sword a certain way at certain times since this showed your intent, either peaceful or otherwise. The act of touching someone’s blade or even of stepping over it was not only impolite but an act of aggression.
Most of the elaborate rules for handling the katana can be traced to the simple need to keep it under control and to make it plain to others that your intentions were peaceful.
Next time you begin to bow during class, take a moment and think just why you are bowing and what purpose the act holds.

Inserted from <http://www.uoguelph.ca/~kataylor/13TIN91.htm

2010 – A year in review at the Moorhead Dojo

Looking back in the year at our dojo, I would have to say it was a pretty good one – for several reasons:

We increased our “consistent” membership from three members to eight. It’s pretty neat for me to see everyone on the line in their white hakamas doing suburi in sync – very cool! I have a good feeling about this group – everyone seems to be grasping the concepts of iaido and making the art personal for them. That’s one of the great joys for me in teaching, is seeing students start to “get it” and not only progress in their technique, but also in their spirit as well.

Continuing members Paul, Kelly, and Bert were joined by Joey, Molly, Erik, Tyler, and Greg. Welcome all!

We increased our public exposure of the dojo and iaido in general through performing several public demonstrations. We attended or presented at:

  • Core Con
  • Red River Valley Fair
  • Fargo All Martial Arts Seminar and Cancer Benefit
  • Pangea Culture festival

If possible, we’ll attend all of these again in 2011 and also will be hosting our own Midwest Kendo Federation sponsored kendo / iaido seminar sometime this summer. That’s going to be big and exciting!

We held our first tameshigiri (test cutting) class. All members of the dojo were able to cut several targets of rolled tatami mats. It was a great learning experience, and I think they could better understand why we stress the things we do about grip, stance, and our swings. I hope to be able to continue this again in 2011.

I personally had a chance to go to Guelph, Ontario in the spring to attend their annual iaido / jodo seminar. It was quite an excellent refresher, and we had an impressive lineup of sensei from all around the world to work with us. Presenting was Chihiro Kishimoto, a hanshi hachidan in iaido and also the chairman of the All Japan Kendo Federation (ZNKR) iaido committee. He brought with him, Atsumi Hatakenaka, kyoshi nanadan, and Fumio Tsubaki, kyoshi nanadan. Canadian sensei included Goyo Ohmi, renshi nanadan, Stephen Cruise, renshi nanadan, and Kim Taylor, renshi nanadan. I spent three days from 9 to 5 practicing seitei iaido with the “testing” group, and was able to receive some personal attention and comments from Kishimoto sensei. We learned some good ki-ken-tai-ichi drills that I’ve started my own students on, and a few basic changes to the seitei kata. I got to spend a bit of time with Cruise sensei reviewing some Musoshindenryu, and comparing some of the differences in our styles. It was a great seminar!

Looking forward to 2011 makes me excited for a couple of things.

First, possibly the chance to test for 5dan at either Guelph or the AUSKF summer camp. I know that I have a lot of reviewing to do of my own seitei, but what makes me most nervous is performing my first test in North America. Up to now, I’ve only had experience testing in Japan, so I’m not sure what to expect. I haven’t had the opportunity to attend the summer camp yet, and I’m really looking forward to heading to Cleveland in June for that. Hopefully Yamazaki sensei from Shizuoka will be attending again this year – I’d love to say hi and catch up with him again. Mr. Yamazaki was our Tobu region kind of lead sensei at my former dojo in Numazu, Japan. He and several other high-ranking sensei came to our dojo every month to lead in a practice and give us a review and pointers on seitei iai.

Also, I’m looking forward to hosting our first iaido seminar here in Fargo-Moorhead. I’m working with the MWKF to get some higher ranked sensei in for instruction in iaido and maybe a bit of kendo as well. It will likely be a two day weekend event with some Friday evening kendo keiko mixed in. It would be great to get some national or even international attendees if we can.

I also look forward to seeing some of my own students start to progress to the level where they may be able to attend some of these events, and test for their dan ranks as well. I would really like to see some representation by Moorhead Dojo members at these regional and national events!

It’s going to be an exciting year!
Brad