February Newsletter

Well February is almost done, so I guess I’m a little late in getting this out, but it’s been a busy month.

2011 Moorhead Dojo / MWKF (Midwest Kendo Federation) Summer Iaido Seminar

This has been the big thing that I’ve been spending a lot of time workinig on. Together with the VP of education for the MWKF, we’ve been hashing out details and requesting sensei from the AUSKF. Here’s what we know so far:

The seminar will be held on July 29, 30, 31 at Concordia College in Moorhead, MN. I’ve started a website with the TENTATIVE details on it. 2011 Moorhead Dojo Iaido Seminar page. Keep in mind that the rates and schedule may be subject to change.

We asked for two high ranked sensei from the AUSKF to lead the seminar. With two, we would be able to host concurrent sessions for practitioners of all levels. In short, AWESOME.

The seminar will have a Friday evening practice session including kendo keiko for those who practice kendo and also some iaido.

Saturday will be a full day of iaido, again with some optional kendo mixed in. Sunday is a half day of iaido.

Continental breakfasts and lunches for both days are included in the seminar registration fees.

Concordia College is offering lodging at LESS THAN $25 per night on campus. We’ll need initial numbers for those interested in this.

All of this information and more can be seen on the abovementioned site, so please check it out. PRE-REGISTRATION IS STRONGLY ENCOURAGED so we can have an accurate number of participants who will need lodging and meals.

This seminar won’t offer rank testing this year, but in future seminars that may be a possibility.

Other upcoming events

Core con – April 15-17

We’ll be doing another demo at the Core Con this year. The date and time has yet to be determined, but be assured, it will be AWESOME.

Kim Taylor’s Iaido seminar – Guelph, ON – May

I went last year to this awesome seminar. I’m hoping to reserve the time and money to go again. Well worth the time and the sensei in attendance were all high-ranking people from Japan and Canada. More details once I know the dates for sure.

AUSKF Iaido Summer Camp – Cleveland, OH – June 9-12

Myself and Kelly will be heading there for the summer camp and rank testing this year. I don’t have the details yet, but these are the dates they’re saying for the camp. From what I’ve heard in the past, it’s AWESOME. I’ll be trying for my 5dan and Kelly for his 1kyu.

Red River Valley Fair – July

The RRV fair has asked us to provide a demo again this year. Due to the (not) huge number of people who came last year, we’ll likely limit our time to once or twice. It got pretty hot last year, and though it was great to be there, it was a lot of time for a handful of viewers. More details to come once I know the dates on that.

Fargo All Martial Arts Seminar – October 8, 9

This will be the third year running for this wonderful seminar and charity event. All the proceeds to to the Roger Maris Cancer center here in Fargo, and you get to participate in many of the different area martial arts practice sessions. Last year we had many different schools and styles, and people were welcome and encouraged to participate as well for these “introductory teaching” sessions. AWESOME.


We’ve gotten a couple of new faces in our dojo here in Moorhead. Welcome to Sarah and Antonio. We hope you enjoy learning iaido as much as we do!

The Aikido Shimboku Dojo

This group has joined our iaido dojo’s membership for the MWKF. Why Moorhead? Because it’s their first year in petitioning for membership, they need a sensei of 4dan or above to “mentor” them. I too had to do the same thing before my dojo was accpted for membership – I was a member of a group down in Rochester, MN. This will get them on the rolls for both the AUSKF and the MWKF, and it also shows both associations that we are serious about iaido here in the Midwest as well, so it’s a win-win for both of our schools.
Their head instructor, Lisa, studied both aikido and iaido during her stay in Japan, and now leads the iaido group down there. More information about their school can be seen at http://www.aikidoshimbokudojo.com/index.htm I’ll likely be heading to their dojo sometime this year to say hi and have a refresher class with them on seitei gata, and maybe a few of them will attend our seminar in July as well.
So Welcome to Lisa and your members!


Here’s a couple of interesting links I’ve found. I love the kenshi247 site!
Excellent article on tameshigiri http://kenshi247.net/blog/2011/01/28/thoughts-on-tameshigiri-from-famous-swordsmen/

That’s about it for now, until next month.

Membership is important

Membership is important. By that, I mean not only becoming a member of a dojo to practice and study with an actual sensei, but also joining your regional (and national) martial arts associations.

There are a lot of people out there who may not have access to a sensei or school in the style that they wish to study. For example, I’m guessing there aren’t a lot of kenjutsu schools and classes available in Central North Dakota. So what do those people do if they really want to study? Buy books and watch videos? You Tube?
I think that while these may be good sources for review, it’s pretty difficult for anyone to truly learn from this kind of media. The personal attention, small corrections in stance, hand work, and basic techniques can only be truly learnt from your sensei and constant monitoring / corrections.
Being a member of a dojo also brings other benefits as well. You’re part of a community of people (friends) who have a common interest (dare I say passion?) for something, and can support each other.
In my dojo, I am using the “senpai – kohai” philosophy that is common in not only martial arts, but education and work practices throughout Japan. The senior “senpai” assists and takes responsibility for their junior “kohai” during practice. If they notice some aspect of the kohai’s stance, technique, or etiquette that needs correction, they will assist in that. Kohai are encouraged to ask their senpai any simple questions that can be easily answered and are not necessary to go to the sensei about. Of course, as head instructor, I encourage anyone to come to me any time with their questions, but sometimes students can ask very simple things of their senpai and get a quicker answer if I’m tied up with another group.
So how do people who want to study and not have access to a dojo or instructor go about receiving instruction? That’s a hard one to answer. I know people in Japan who sometimes traveled for an hour or two on the train to get to their dojo, practiced for a couple of hours, and then rode back again. It wasn’t uncommon to see them do that twice a week. They were dedicated, and the commute wasn’t an issue.

I know the first place I’d look to see if there was anybody qualified to teach kendo or iaido would be the All US Kendo Federation web site. There’s a comprehensive list of dojo by region in there along with the contact information. There are also links to the regional sites as well. Our dojo is a member of the Midwest Kendo Federation. By going through these associations, you are guaranteed to receive quality instruction from a legitimate sensei.

Another option if you are unable to attend a dojo, would be to contact the closest dojo’s head instructor and inquire about private lessons, or possibly meeting at a midpoint somewhere on a weekly basis. It may be possible that an instructor would come halfway if there were a guaranteed number of students available to teach. Just a thought.

I encourage anyone interested in studying martial arts to go and shop around for dojo. Not all are the same – and not all instructors are the same or even the best qualified to teach. It seems in some systems that all you need is a “black belt” to open your own school. I wouldn’t settle for that, and serious practitioners shouldn’t either. Getting your black belt means simply that you’ve put in enough time to begin seriously studying.

Good luck, and remember membership IS important.