Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Budo, and Talking About Budo

Hey everybody. I just got back from a 6-day trip to Kyushu. It was a great opportunity to visit some friends and also some Sensei who have been very kind to me in the past. For example, the man I used to get my budo supplies from is an iaido 7-dan, kendo 8-dan, jukendo 8-dan and former All-Japan Senior Jukendo Champion. He's also good with a tanken, (although I don't know if there's a separate licence for that) and once had a shiai where he defeated his opponent (who was armed with a naginata) using a short sword. Pretty cool guy! He had his friend over, a very interesting old fellow who has been doing Chito Ryu karate for over 50 years. We spent the afternoon drinking tea and talking about martial arts. We hit on a lot of topics, and it was pretty inspiring to listen to these guys chat.

I also visited my old iaido sensei. He's the one who learned Shindo Munen Ryu from the Soke, or the Soke's son, or he WAS the Soke at some point, or something (none of it is very clear)... Anyway, I didn't get any more answers about his actual connection to the school, but we talked about it for a while, and how the school came to the Omura area of Nagasaki a few generations ago. Sensei also had a very interesting book called "The Bugei of the Hirado Area" which listed some of the styles taught to retainers of the Hirado daimyo, the Matsuura clan. Interesting stuff. It says in that book on Musashi by Tokitsu that one Lord Matsuura, a disciple of Yagyu Shinkage ryu as I recall, was defeated by a disciple of Musashi's Enmei Ryu. He then used this new knowledge to formulate a new school called the Shin-Gyo-To Ryu... (I'll have to check that book again.) Anyway, interesting to think that the samurai from where I used to live have a connection to Musashi...

The next day I went to Saga and visited Colin, our Niten Ichi Ryu friend. He had a friend over, a British guy who had apprenticed himself to a sword polisher in the past. Jealous me. However, I had other things on my mind because I agreed to buy Colin's katana. So, I am now the proud owner of a new shinken. Let's hope that I can remain proud owner of all ten of my fingers for some time to come. I must admit that I'm a little bit scared of the thing. As luck would have it, it is exactly the same length as my iaito. It IS fairly heavy, so I'll have to see if that means I need to deepen the bohi, start lifting weights, or what. Maybe I can live with it as is. We'll see...

The funny (?) thing is that my iaido instructor in Kashiwa thought I was using a real sword all along. He said "You handle it as if it were real." He told me that some people don't use iaito the same way they would use a real sword, and you can tell somehow. I'm not sure what he means, but I guess it's a good thing.

Anyway, on the next-to-last day I went to Fukuoka and stayed overnight at Namitome Sensei's place. I really messed up the meeting time, and he was really angry at me. You don't want this guy angry at you. It's really scary. But anyway, it was nice to see him again. He wasn't feeling well at all, though. I guess he went to Sweden and contracted some sort of virus that laid him low for a while, so we didn't practice at all, but I am lazy (as you know) so that was fine with me. We talked about budo, which is all I seem to want to do lately anyway! In any case, as Haruna Sensei used to say, it's better to do a technique once while really thinking about it, than to do it a hundred times without thinking. So... if thinking and talking are the same thing, I'm halfway there, right? Right?

Photos of my new "baby" if I can ever figure out how to do photo hosting.


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