Saturday, April 25, 2009

Cleveland Iaido Seminar

It's been over a week, but I thought I still talk about this while it's still fresh in my memory. For the first time, Cleveland was able to host an Iaido seminar given by Kato sensei (7th dan Kyoshi in both Kendo and Iaido) and Murakami sensei (AUSKF President) after the shinsa that followed the Kendo tournament the previous day. The intent here was to gauge the interest here to see if they will decide to hold this every year.

My previous intent with this article was to pretty much copy the notes I made during the entire seminar, but I later felt that it would be pretty fruitless as it would make this entry prohibitively long. So I'll just shorten it to a few highlights and talk about the overall experience.

The seminar lasted about 4 hours and mainly went over the following things:
  • Properly going through opening and closing formalities
  • Importance of the sageo (more than a fashion statement, ya know)
  • All 12 seitei kata
Overall, it was a very eye-opening experience. I have been practicing down at Northern Kentucky for the past year and a half, so it's nice to have a change of scenery, so to speak, and get some instruction in a different setting by a different instructor. Being of little iaido experience, there was MUCH to learn within the 4 hour time frame.

Concerning the seitei kata, it was assumed that everyone was at least familiar with the kata in some form, so a lot of the explanations were about some of the smaller aspects. I don't want to go into too much detail, but I'll give some of the highlights of what I learned below:
  • Sanpo giri and Soete-tsuki are performed for the sake of cutting people hiding just beyond a wall or corner. So the body positioning is more like trying to wrap yourself around to cut the person ASAP.
  • Uke-nagashi should flow better (no pause between the block and strike), and the rotation near the end should not be too much. Based on the correction I was given, I would say abour 110 to 115 degrees at the most.
  • You are doing the kata alone, but you also must remember that you are cutting someone's body and all rules of engagement still apply. In other words, the sword should not be swung too much to leave potential openings.
  • You're trying to kill someone, so show your energy throughout the kata. There needs to be some feeling to your movements.
The overall attendance was pretty low, as should be expected. This is the first year that it happened. If they were to continue doing this, then the attendance could increase due to word of mouth and better advanced planning on the part of the attendees (as in thinking of the iaido stuff alongside the kendo stuff as the seminars gain more promenance). Then there's the issue of Iaido being a very uncommon art in the midwest region. Places like New York or Los Angeles have better opportunities to do Iaido, but there aren't very many dojo around. In the Cincinnati area, there is one club here with the closest being in Indianapolis, which is a little over an hour away.

I really hope that they continue doing this as the information given was very valuable and nice to bring back to Cincinnati. It's nice to have opportunities to see my Iaido grow, but even better to see Iaido grow in general.


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