I finally went to my first Kendo seminar yesterday that was hosted by the University of Chicago Kendo club and taught by 8th dan hanshi, Miyahara sensei.
I must say that the experience was great and worth the two hour drive (and 5 back due to I-65 being an ice sheet) to get there. I learned a lot about kendo that day--maybe too much.
Miyahara sensei himself is a pretty cool guy. Everything that he said was straightforward and made sense as to why he did what he did. One thing that I really liked is that, despite him having the highest rank in the US, he wasn't completely hung up in formalities. There's some people that expect you to treat them all special like (not necessarily in Kendo since I haven't met anyone like that), but he seemed pretty relaxed. I hope to be like him when I'm at a high rank.
As for the lesson itself, we learned a lot about the basics from tips to take care of the shinai to footwork and suburi. One nice thing we learned was how to do various parry techniques depending on situation. More specifically, I learned about how it may not necessarily be necessary to stomp when doing strikes, a way to tie the dou so that it doesn't fall off and a way to tie the shinai so that you don't have to worry about pulling so much.
There were a lot more things I learned that day, but it would be enough to write a novel on it. Luckily, there was someone else from my dojo who showed up so he should be able to recall stuff that may be foggy to me and I can do the same with him. Hopefully we should be able to pass this on to the other dojo members to spread the knowledge.
The most important thing that he stressed was that everything that he said isn't gospel. If something doesn't make sense, then we don't really have to do it. But his reasonings were so logical that you at least had to give it a try to see if it works. All I know is that I can now look at my kendo and see about adding a few things to my sparring skills. The seminar was invaluable.
Before I end this, I would like to extend my thanks to the University of Chicago Kendo Club for inviting us to join them for this. I would also like to extend thanks to Miyahara sensei for coming out to Chicago to teach for the day. This experience proved to be very interesting and I hope to train and meet with both of them agian.