Seitei is Not for Starting – Feb 12, 2014, Kim Taylor, CI Sei Do Kai Guelph ON, Nanadan

Just finishing up the Bangai Den manual with a chapter to sum up the MJER core techniques and extract some meta-information from the school. — What, is it surprising that a kata guy looks for patterns?

At any rate, the core kata are the 4 sets of solo practice and three sets of sword striking and in all those kata (60 plus) all but 10 of them feature the exact same chiburi. There are two chinagui and seven or eight ochiburi in the Omori Ryu but that’s about it, all the rest is “yoko chiburi”. Realizing that, I went looking for the others and didn’t find them. I looked because I do the ZNKR Seitei kata and expected to see them there.

Look at the ZNKR iai from a beginner’s point of view, where a different foot forward means a different thing to memorize. What do they have to learn about chiburi?

1. Mae – ochiburi (migi)
2. Ushiro – ochiburi (hidari)
3. Uke Nagashi – chinagui
4. Tsuka Ate – Yoko chiburi (seated)
5. Kesa giri – hasso chiburi
6. Morotezuki – Yoko chiburi (standing)
7. Sanpo Giri – Jodan chiburi
8. Ganmen Ate – Yoko chiburi (standing)
9. Soete Zuki – soetezuki chiburi
10. Shihogiri – Jodan chiburi
11. So Giri – Yoko chiburi (standing)
12. Nuki Uchi – Yoko chiburi (ushiro)

Looking at that I count 7 different chiburi for the original 7 kata before you get to a repeat. Out of 12, I count 9 different ways to remember how to do chiburi. Is it that important?

Three (two actually) different levels of Tosa Iai (MJER/MSR) plus a few other schools for extra effects like a rising cut on the draw (go find that in MJER) and you’ve got something that ought to be introduced well after you have learned your koryu.

Wait, where did Seitei come from? A bunch of folks who were experts in koryu already. Who’s in charge now? The hanshi, most of whom are probably 70 or 80 which means they were in their 30s or 40s when Seitei got going, which means they also learned their basics in koryu long before they even saw Seitei.

Now? Now buddy comes into class and wants to grade and his teacher wants him to grade and so we jump right into Seitei Gata. I keep hearing folks saying that they have to get sandan or some such rank before they are allowed to start learning koryu. What? Koryu is some sort of difficult thing to learn or some sort of treat, a reward?

I fall into that trap myself, if a new student comes in as gradings are approaching they get thrown to the Wolves of Seitei and good luck. No gentle master of Omor Ryu for you, here’s a couple of beginner kata and now you’re in oku iai with multiple attackers!

Nope, Seitei is not for Starters, and we ought to fix that.

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