8 Dan Musoshindenryu Demo

Love watching these high level sensei do Musoshindenryu iaido. It’s very interesting to see slight variations on how we do it. If you understand the picture being painted, seeing it in a different way sometimes adds insight to how you’re painting it yourself.
Very cool.

Junichi KUSAMA Sensei Iaido Hanshi 8 Dan, Noboru OGURA Sensei Iaido Hanshi 8 Dan

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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

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

August Newsletter

July Seminar

Our July Seminar went really well! We had a total of 26 participants plus the two AUSKF sensei that we invited. We had people from all over Canada, the Midwest region of the US, and even Alaska.

The instruction was excellent, and a special thank you goes out to Konno and Parker sensei for leading the seminar, and also to Taylor and Tribe sensei for stepping in and helping instruct all of the different levels of participants we had.

And we did have ALL levels of iaido experience represented. There were some people who had never done iai before at all. Some who had only done kendo, and some with years of iaido practice. Regardless of rank or experience, we ALL learned something new and valuable – it was a great experience!

One of the things I took away from this seminar included a new way of thinking about and executing “Iai-goshi,” making sure our hips are turned properly to point our belly button either straight ahead or angled upwards as we rise and execute the first step of kata like mae.

Also, a refining of how to do proper tenouchi with less “wringing” and more control with your small fingers on the tsuka. Konno sensei also explained about “kiri-te” or cutting hand, and how to move and draw nukitsuke in a better way.

There were many other basic kihon items that we covered, and my notebook is filling up as I try to remember and jot them all down for continuing practice and review.

We also had an excellent demonstration of seitei jodo by Taylor and Tribe sensei, along with a basic explanation of what is happening in each kata. I’m hoping to introduce some jodo sometime in the future – it’s a very nice addition to training in iaido.

The Olson Forum was very nice and roomy, and the floors were pretty good for iai. Dormitory accommodations brought back memories of the hot, arid evenings without air conditioning, but the price was right, and they were located within 3 minutes walk of the venue.

The dinner in Downtown Fargo at the Green Market Kitchen was very tasty, and they did the best they could (considering they have a single chef) to get everything out to us hot and in a timely manner.

I’d like to thank the members of my dojo and also Ron Fox who helped out with the organization and execution of the seminar. I couldn’t have done it without you, and the success of this seminar will hopefully lead to becoming an annual event for us. Thanks again!

Summer practice

In addition to our standard seitei and Musoshindenryu kata, we’ve been practicing some new (paired) kendo kata in our class this summer. It’s been a (re)learning process for me – I haven’t done kendo kata since about 1999, and we’ve all been picking it up pretty well.

Kendo kata is a great supplement to iai kata in that it teaches the kenshi about timing, sen, metsuke, and seme. All of the kamae (stances) are the same as what we perform in our regular kata, and learning to work with and time your movements with a partner is a wonderful learning tool. I look forward to some “professional review” by a better qualified sensei somewhere down the road to make sure we’re not doing anything obviously wrong. At the seminar we did have an opportunity to see Konno and Fox sensei perform the kata for us – very nice, and it shows we still have a long way to go in refining our technique!

RRV Fair

A few members of the dojo gave some demos at the Red River Valley Fair in July. We had 3 demos at the Scheels stage, where we performed kata, explained about the history and theory of iaido, showed our iaito and bokuto, and had the children do some practice cutting of newspaper with bokuto.

Thanks goes to Paul, Gary, and Tyler for participating in this and showing the attendees a bit of Japanese culture (and how to be an awesome newspaper cutter).

You may laugh and think, “Cut newspaper with a wooden sword??” Actually it’s not as easy as you might think. The “blade” of the bokuto is dull and rounded, and only with good swinging technique and speed of the blade will you be able to cut cleanly and straight.

We sometimes practice this in the dojo, and it is a cheap way to test your cutting technique. The dojo record for most layers of newspaper cut cleanly with a single cut is 32. Pretty cool!

Rank Testing

We held rank testing in the dojo in June for 3 and 4kyu students. Congratulations goes to Tyler, Gary, and Sarah who achieved their first rank of 4kyu, and also to Erik and Joey who achieved their 3kyu.

The requirements for 3kyu are for a student to perform 5 selected kata from the seitei series. Beyond just performing the movements correctly, they must show some indication of timing and smoothness in their execution, and a beginner’s understanding of jo-ha-ku.

Again, congratulations to all who tested!

Upcoming Events

We don’t have anything in particular on the schedule for our dojo for the rest of the year. We may be invited back to the Pangea festival in November, so that might be a possible demonstration we’ll have. Beyond that, we’ll keep you posted if something comes up.

In Thunder Bay, Ontario, there is an excellent annual seminar being hosted by Eric Tribe sensei on October 22-23. Instruction will be led by Ohmi and Taylor sensei and there will be a rank testing opportunity available as well. More information can be found about that at: http://my.tbaytel.net/etribe/Seminars.html

The 3rd Annual Fargo All Martial Arts Seminar and Cancer benefit will be held on November 12-13. We’re still looking for martial arts groups and dojo to come and participate. The proceeds go to the Roger Maris Cancer Center. People interested participating in or contributing to this seminar should contact Paul Dyer.

That’s about it – enjoy the rest of your summer!
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。

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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 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