I got to spend five days last week in San Antonio for the AUSKF Iaido Seminar. While I have been to two Iaido seminars in Cleveland, this is the first time I've attended the national seminar. To be honest, I wasn't sure what to expect to experience and learn. In the end, I was very pleased with the organization of the event, the people I met and the things I learned (minus some political issues, but that's for a different discussion).
The seminar had the welcoming party on the first day, the seminar on the second and third day, tournament on the fourth day and the promotional exam on the fifth day. It was the perfect recipe to finish each day with sore legs from all the seiza and tatehiza, and a sore brain from taking in all that new information.
The seminar days went over some new exercises, such as a modified ipponme where we do the nukitsuke to the front, left, right and back and adding some kiai to the nukitsuke with the modified ipponme. We also basically spend some time with each of the 12 seitei kata, learning various things like what's required for the movements and what's required for effective zanshin after we swing. I would say that these were the most intense days as it was filled with tons of new information. At the end of each day, I was mentally exhausted due to taking in so much.
The fourth day was just the tournament which was a whole new experience for me. I'm more used to the Kendo tournaments where there's a lot of screaming and whacking going on and people running all over trying to get to where they need to be. Because there was complete silence, the pressure was more intensified than the Kendo tournaments since there aren't any other sounds to drown yourself into. In the end, lost at the second match against a really good opponent. It was one of those moments where you could tell someone's skill just by looking at them.
To be honest, I wasn't all that wild about participating in Iaido tournaments in general. It was something to do just for the experience, but I wasn't sure about really traveling as much as I would for a Kendo tournament to participate in one (if there are even such events existing in the US). My initial impressions was that there wasn't all that much to gain from participating in these things because I saw it more as just doing the same thing in class, but having a different set of people looking at you. After actually participating in one and feeling the different sorts of pressure, I do feel that there is just as much to gain from these tournaments compared to the Kendo tournaments
The final day was the promotional exam, which I also participated in. There was a little less pressure on me that day because:
- I was just going for whatever kyu rank they felt I deserved. So this exam wasn't a matter of "pass-or-fail".
- The tournament prepared me for the procedures and atmosphere so the experience was less jarring.
Overall, I was really pleased with the seminar. Not only did I learn a lot, but I met a lot of great people from all over the country. I look forward to seeing them again in Cleveland next year (which is great since the driving distance is small :)). In the meantime, I'll take what I learned and work with that until I find out more that needs to be fixed.
I had a chance to use my camera skills while I was there. I think I'm starting to get the hang of using the camera so I feel that these came out better than some of the other ones. A friend of mine told me that the ISO might be set too high so I guess that's another thing I should spend a little time with. Without further ado, you can view the pictures on the flickr slideshow.
Until next time!!!