This past weekend, November 28-29, 2017 was the Peterborough Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu seminar. This is largely a family affair with 40 participants who are all students of Goyo Ohmi sensei. Seven years this year I believe, and it is a great source of renewal to me every time. Simply put, I remember why I am doing this stuff. The weekend went something like this. Opening remarks by Ohmi sensei, Omori Ryu with Carole Galligan sensei, Remarks by Ohmi sensei in the afternoon, tate hiza no bu by Kim Taylor in the afternoon. Evening discussions over a great meal, then on Sunday, opening remarks by Ohmi sensei, Oku iai tachi waza led by Carole, Taylor and David Green sensei, then the mid-afternoon remarks and to finish the day the class was split between free practice of zen ken ren iai for those who are grading in a month, and a mix of Tachi Uchi no Kurai and Tsumi Ai no Kurai taught by Taylor.
It is getting toward the time when I should gather up all my notes from Ohmi sensei. He once joked that I should write a book entitled “my sensei said” like a student did during the Edo (he was reading it at the time). Thing is, all the books I’ve written have been that book, my sensei said. This is another chapter.
My sensei said:
This is a seminar, I am here as a seminar teacher, so I will be teaching you as a group. You don’t come to a seminar for individual attention, you get that at your dojo. Here we are not going to be giving it to you, you must take it, steal it from us.
Here I would like you to consider your mindset, your spirit and your posture. The small details are something you can do with your own teachers but here you should look for different things. I see that some of you have been warming up while we get ready, others have not. I don’t care, it’s up to you but when you line up you must be completely ready to start. We will go through Zen Ken Ren iai to warm up and get the muscles working.
Seitei and Jikiden are the same, you should practice them with the same mind, spirit and posture. It is only the angles and other small details that are different. There are two things that you must pay attention to.
1. Is your grip correct? From the little finger to the thumb your strength should be 10, 8, 6, 4, 4, and at the base of your index finger, 8.
2. You must have someone in front of you. If you are not cutting someone, if you do not have correct footwork, posture, spirit, and breathing, you are not doing Oku iai, you are just acting. Some of you are beginners and will not be able to do Oku iai correctly but go ahead and try this weekend.
We will split up into two groups, 4dan and up, 3dan and below, face each other and compare as we do Seitei.
A seminar is not for learning the details, it is for other things like working on your spirit and your mind. There are many who may not be ready to come to a seminar because they are still learning the details. You are here, so try. Remember that a cut is done with the hand, then not with the hand but the foot, then with the hip, then with the tanden.
When you cut you must understand the sword. Your tip must be keen, sharp, crisp. Your monouchi must be heavy. Remember Kan Kyu Kyo Jaku. Slow, quick, strong, soft.
This is iai, the nuki tsuke, the initial cut must be from the saya. This is the most important difference between iai and kendo.
When you are younger, your iai should be a little bit faster, this will help you. When you are older you must use your mind power and your spirit.
When we are doing a kata, for instance Sanpo Giri of Seitei, you can choose from several timings. You can cut the first and second opponents quickly, then the third more slowly, more deliberately. This is how Haruna sensei did it. You can also do all three cuts at the same tempo, like Namitome sensei. If you choose this your seme must be perfect, you must hold all three. Yamazaki sensei put more time between the first and second cut than between the second and third. I like this way too. Regardless of which timing you choose, you must use correct metsuke to control your opponents.
From your opening etiquette, you must show your superiority. From the moment you sit in seiza you should show you are ready, you should show your quality.
From fourth dan and up you should be showing seme. You must have an opponent and you must control him, you must push him.
When you take your kamae your tip must be alive, it must be keen. All your kamae must be alive, you body and your sword must be alive. If you are in waki gamae you are ready, you are not waiting. If you are on your back heel you are waiting and you are not ready.
Saya no uchi does not mean “do not draw your sword” it means you are ready. For 1-2 dan you cut and then win. From 4dan up you must win and then cut. Saya no uchi means that if you draw your sword you diminish your sword, but if you draw it 100 times and lose, this is not the way either. As you learn to draw and kill others, you are conquering yourself. Self defeat (to defeat your desires, self control) is more important than defeating others. You must learn self denial.
We say that kendo is just hitting each other with sticks and the kendoka say that we are just fooling around with swords. Both should be serious. Kendo is ki ken tai ichi, the kendoka gathers his spirit, and cuts as he goes in. He catches his opponent. The iai is ki tai ken, we move into the correct distance and then cut. Tameshi giri is also ki tai ken, you step into distance and then cut the target. There is a difference between tameshigiri and iai of course, if you do not have a teki you are not doing iai.
Oct 30, 2017
Nov 17-19 Jodo Grading and Seitei/Koryu Seminar, Shiiya sensei and Kurogo sensei, past and present heads, jodo section ZNKR. Etobicoke, near the airport. http://seidokai.ca/jodo_fallseminar2017.html