December Newsletter

Agassiz Dojo News

Greetings!
This fall and year has flown by! I can’t believe it’s already December, though an unusually warm and snow-free one, and we’re 3 weeks away from Christmas.

News
Pangea 2012 a good showing

We had an information table at the Pangea Culture Festival that was held in Moorhead, MN in November where we met several people interested in Japanese sword arts, and gave a demonstration of Seitei, Musoshindenryu, and Tachi Uchi no Kurai kata. We had a pretty good crowd watch us, and people especially seemed interested in the paired bokuto Tachi Uchi portion.
Thank you to Sarah and Tyler for helping me mind the booth, and participate in the demonstration. I appreciate it! We’ll try again next year to attend this interesting cultural event.

2nd Annual Agassiz Dojo / MWKF Iaido Seminar a Success!

Last weekend we had our second regional iaido seminar. We had a smaller group attending this year, which meant more personalized attention and interaction with the two sensei who attended. We welcomed back both Konno and Parker sensei, who came to our first seminar last year, and had participants from MN and CA.
The program consisted of a Friday practice for new arrivals and dojo members where Parker sensei introduced the first 6 Tachi Uchi no Kurai kata. These kata are paired kata using a bokuto (wooden sword) where one person is the “attacker” and the other is the “winner.” It is a great way to learn distance and timing.
Saturday’s schedule broke participants into two groups based on experience, who then worked with each of the sensei on kihon and the seitei series kata. There was lots of personal attention, and I could see marked improvement in everyone! Both Konno and Parker sensei provided us with demonstrations of their koryu kata, Musoshindenryu and Muso Jikiden Eishin ryu respectively.
We had an excellent dinner at Osaka Sushi and Hibachi restaurant in Fargo. The teppanyaki show they do is quite entertaining, and everyone had their fill of good food and drink.
Sunday brought more review of kata and kihon (basic techniques) and then some self practice where the sensei offered feedback.
It was an excellent opportunity for learning and quality feedback at a personal level! It was a great prep for people to review before heading to Summer Camp in Omaha next summer for gradings. I can’t wait until next year!
The photos are available for viewing at the following gallery: https://picasaweb.google.com/108692945864145681948/2012AgassizDojoIaidoSeminar?authuser=0&feat=directlink

Upcoming Events

Enrollment Opening and Embu – Mid January

Currently we’re not accepting any new students, but in the new year we’ll once again open enrollment and will possibly be accepting new students. I’m hoping to have an “open house” Embu of sorts first to have existing members showcase the kata they’re familar with and answer any questions people might have. We’ll send out an announcement once a date has been decided.

Dojo Grading – Late January to Early February

We’ll be having our next dojo grading in the new year after we’ve had a chance to review some of the seitei points. Currently, we’ve been working on koryu kata – both Tachi Uchi no Kurai, and the Shoden set of Musoshindenryu.

Iaido Summer Camp June 27-30, 2013 in Omaha NE

Several (if not all) of our members are planning to attend this event in June for seminar, taikai (tournament) and shinsa (grading). It’s a big event, and a lot of fun to meet practitioners from around the world. Highly recommended, so mark your calendars and start saving now!

Winnepeg CKF Iaido Seminar – Mid October

This event is replacing what was Eric Tribe sensei’s seminar formerly held in Thunder Bay, ON. It’s actually a shorter drive, and easy to get to. Featuring 7dan Kyoshi Ohmi sensei. Put it on your calendars and get a passport if you don’t have one!
We’ll post the seminar pictures and I’ll send another mail once that’s up live.
Have a great Holiday and Merry Christmas!
Brad

October Newsletter

Whew, life just seems to get busier and busier. Looking in the archives, I found I haven’t sent a newsletter since July. As we move through fall, things don’t seem to be slowing down much either.

Upcoming Events

We’ve got a couple of things coming up in the next month or two, and hopefully some of you whom this newletter reaches will be able to attend.
November 10th will have us at the Pangea Culture festival in Moorhead, MN. This event is a showcase of different cultures with lots of good food, displays, and activities for the family. We’ll be in a booth meeting and greeting people and introducing the art of iaido, and also performing a demonstration of kata. Come out on Saturday the 10th from 10am – 4pm to see what it’s all about.
December 1, 2 – Our Agassiz Dojo / MWKF iaido seminar. We’ll be hosting our seminar this year in Fargo, ND at the Agassiz Middle School gymnasium. Details and registration for the seminar can be found at: http://seminar.musoshindenryu.com.
We welcome people who have never even done iaido to come and join the seminar. We had some absolute beginners last year, and it worked out fine! The caliber of instruction from two top AUSKF iaido sensei to come to our own regional seminar is quite exceptional, and a great opportunity for training.

Rank testing

Congratulations to Sarah V. for achieving her 2kyu rank. Sarah had to perform 5 specific seitei iaido kata with a degree of competance, as well as complete a short written and oral exam. The 5 kata and opening and closing reiho have to be performed between 5:30 and 6:00 minutes, or the candidate is disqualified.
We’ll be having our next rank testing in Mid-Late December, and have started back on our Koryu training in our regular practice sessions again.

Koryu

Love it! We’re going to run through the Musoshindenryu shoden series to review the kata we practiced previously, and also start back on learning the paired Tachi-uchi-no-kurai (kenjutsu-style) bokuto kata. We might even try introducing the second, Chuden set of kata if time allows. Can’t wait to get going on these again!

Dojo Space

The building owner was put under some pressure from the city to be compliant for restrooms and parking being available for the building we have the dojo in. Good for us, as the toilets should be installed within the month, and we’ll have a bunch of new, paved parking spots available for us soon!
In the interim, let’s be careful to not track in mud, dirt from the area in front of the door into the dojo by removing and keeping our shoes near the door.

One Point Japanese

Greetings and Salutations! Greetings in the Japanese language can be both formal and casual, depending on who you’re saying them to. They’re also “time specific” and used on first greeting of someone in the day.
Ohayogozaimasu! (Ohio-go-zai-masu) Good morning! This is a greeting used for to greet anybody during the morning hours. Typically it is used up to 11:00 AM or so. For a more formal situation, it is often accompanied with a slight bow of the head and/or upper body – for example greeting one’s boss the first time you meet them that morning at work. I’d often see receptionist / office staff standing and bowing like this when all of the managers and senior staff were arriving in the morning.
Konnichiwa. (Koh-NEE-chee-wah) Good afternoon. This greeting is used from around 11:00 AM to around 5:00 PM, and is part of a larger phrase, “Konnichi wa, ikaga desuka,” which essentially means “How are you today?”
Konbanwa. (Kohn-bahn-wah) Good evening. Used after or around 7 PM, but not usually before that.
So you can see, there is a small “gap” in times where we’re not using konnichiwa or konbanwa. The time of evening between 5 and 7 PM is called, “yugata,” or early evening, but we don’t have a specific greeting for this time of day. It’s strange, and you’ll just have to decide what to say when that occurs!
Jya Ne! / Mata ne! See you (later)! This is a very informal way of saying goodbye to someone who is of equal “status” as you, friends, and family.
Jya, Mata! Same, but slightly more formal than above.
Mata XXXX. Until next XXXX.
This could be Mata ne: Later!
Mata ashita: Until tomorrow.
Mata rai-shu: Until next week.
Mata kondo: Until next time.
Do you see the patterns here? Hopefully you can now have some idea of how to greet and say goodbye to you dojo mates and friends.
Until next time – Mata kondo!
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

Demo Tomorrow and blurb

Just a quick announcement for those in the area.

We’ll be doing a demo tomorrow, Saturday June 2nd, in Ada, MN. The event is the 2012 Relay for Life, a worthy charity event for the American Cancer Society.
Our demo starts at 2pm. Details for the event and directions can be found at: http://main.acsevents.org/site/TR/RelayForLife/RFLFY11National?sid=128433&type=fr_informational&pg=informational&fr_id=37767

Also, in July…… OUR SEMINAR!
The Agassiz Dojo (formerly Moorhead Dojo) in association with the Midwest Kendo Federation, are proud to announce our second annual Iaido Seminar for the weekend of July 28-29. Last year we had 28 participants of all levels of experience from all over North America, and we hope to have as many again this year! The seminar site is at: http://seminar.musoshindenryu.com

We will be having two guest sensei provided by the AUSKF. Returning again this year will be Tatsuhiko Konno sensei, who will be joined by Shozo Kato sensei. Both are Musoshindenryu practitioners. The program will be very similar to what we did last year.
Venue: We will be hosting this year’s seminar at Minnesota State University, Moorhead (MSUM). They have a nice campus, and we’ll be in their Memorial Union ballroom. It will be a big room with a wood floor. Maps and information will be available on the website.
Housing: There is campus housing (dormitory) available at MSUM. We’ll need to know who will be staying in the dormitory as soon as possible to ensure that we have the appropriate number of rooms available. Room fees are paid directly to MSUM.
The tentative pricing/availability:
Double Room: $20/night/person
Single Room: $25/night/person
Apartments: $30/night/person
Meals: Included in your registration fee is a continental breakfast and lunch for both Saturday and Sunday. Breakfast opens at 7:30 at the lobby of the Memorial Union, and lunch will be served around noon or 12:30. There will be vending machines on site selling beverages.
Optional Saturday evening dinner: We will have an optional dinner on Saturday. We haven’t decided the venue yet, but it will likely be in the nearby area. Please indicate on your registration if you wish to attend this OPTIONAL dinner, so that I can reserve your seat. We will likely order off the menu, and the costs are paid by yourself.
Registration: This year’s seminar will have the same fee structure as last year. Please pre-register and pre-pay through the website as soon as possible. The discount rate closes July 15th. Each registrant should complete the registration, the liability waiver, and prepay.
I look forward to this year’s seminar – last year was excellent instruction, and a lot of fun for everyone. I’ve received so many comments from people who attended or heard about it and wanted to attend. It’s a great opportunity to learn iaido from TOP AUSKF sensei, right here in the Midwest. Again, ALL levels of experience are welcome.
Brad

Tachi Uchi Awesomeness!

In last night’s practice, we spent the entire time on the standing Musoshindenryu kata, Tachi-Uchi no Kurai. We managed to “see” and get the basic movements for the first three in the set. They include De-ai, Keikomi, and Ukenagashi. Thanks to an introduction  I received from Kim Taylor at the Thunder Bay seminar last fall, his detailed instruction video, and some reading materials, we were able to piece together these kata in a somewhat coherent manner.

Simply Awesome!
It was difficult to get some of the movements and timing down, but awesome nonetheless.
Kelly, Joey, and I each took turns in both the Uchidachi and Shidachi roles, two together, one modelling. It worked well, because we got a chance to practice the timing, seme, and maii with the teki across from us, and then we could also work on the technique and specifics as we modeled on the side.
We discovered how just small details like the position of a foot when performing some of the grappling and controlling movements in Keikomi were enough to make the action work or not. It’s in the details!
We also had a pretty good introduction to Ukenagashi. Wow. That’s a hard kata to perform with the timing, distancing, and still trying to maintain seme with the teki.
Oh, and not getting whacked by the Uchidachi is a challenge too.
We found that if performed improperly, it’s quite easy to get inadvertently whacked or speared by the Uchidachi’s bokuto. Again, the details makes it work or not. I think we could spend months on just that kata to get it somewhat correct!
I thoroughly enjoyed this new aspect to our koryu training, and can’t wait to work on it again.
Now, I have to get back to making my notes on these kata. There’s so much to remember! (That’s a pretty obvious hint Kelly and Joey – TAKE NOTES!)

Kim Taylor’s video may be ordered here: http://sdksupplies.com/cat_video.htm The one I’m referring to is: VIDBBI-14 Tachi Uchi no Kurai 2010

Have a good week.
Brad

Rank Testing & Class

Testing

We recently held our winter round of testing for -kyu ranks, and I’m happy to say that everyone who tested, passed!

Congratulations goes to the following:
2-kyu: Joey Heck, Erik Ness
3-kyu: Tyler Wilson, Gary Haynie, Sarah Vigstol

So, in our dojo now, we have 1- 1kyu, 3- 2kyu, 3- 3kyu, and two unranked members. We can test up to 2kyu in our dojo, and after that members have to attend an AUSKF or regional KF sponsored event in order to test. Our dojo generally offers testing in June and Dec/January in order to keep in line with the AUSKF Iaido summer camp.

Judging panels generally consist of 5 upper dan ranked members, and to pass, a majority of the judges need to give a passing mark. Participants need to perform opening reiho, 5 kata of the judges’ choice, & closing reiho all within a 6 minute window. Over time equals disqualification. Performing the reiho incorrectly even though the kata may be fine equals disqualification. Everything has to be performed according to “the book” relative to the student’s rank they are attempting.

Again congratulations!

Koryu Unleashed!

Since we have finished our rank testing, we are now going to take a few months to introduce and practice our koryu, Musoshindenryu. Some members have had exposure to some of the various Shoden teachings, and we’ll continue with that to see how far we can get in three months. I’d love for everyone to have at least tried or worked on all of the shoden kata. They include:

Shoden

The word “Shoden” can be translated as the “entry-transmission”, and was derived from the Omori-ryu Iaido. Omori-ryu was said to have been created by Hayashi Rokudayu Morimasa, the ninth headmaster of the Muso Jikiden Eishin-ryu, who lived from 1661 until 1732. It has been included in the Muso Shinden Ryu at the entry level, and contains the following techniques:

  1. Shohatto (初発刀)
  2. Sato (左刀)
  3. Uto (右刀)
  4. Atarito (当刀)
  5. Inyoshintai (陰陽進退)
  6. Ryuto (流刀)
  7. Junto (順刀)
  8. Gyakuto (逆刀)
  9. Seichuto (勢中刀)
  10. Koranto (虎乱刀)
  11. Inyoshintai kaewaza (陰陽進退替技)
  12. Nukiuchi (抜打)

All of the shoden set start from seiza-bu except for the standing kata #10, Koranto. So, we’ll start back on our knees again!

In addition to these kata, we’ll also be introducing the Tachi-uchi no kurai kata or paired standing kata. It’s going to be a lot of fun!

I’ve already had one comment from Kelly following Wednesday’s practice, “Man, Koryu is awesome!”

I couldn’t agree more.

Stay warm.
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