Yesterday was the Chiba Prefectural Kendo Federation's Iaido Seminar. You need to attend two seminars before you are eligible to try a grading. This one (plus the pre-grading seminar on the morning of the test) means that I should be able to try my 5th dan in August, assuming I'm actually in the country AND in Chiba in August. Oh well...
Anyway, it was an all-Koryu seminar, and I was the only Jikiden person there, so they just made me learn Shinden, which was fine. We started out with a demonstration broken down by rank. First the 7-dans, then 6-dans, 5-dans, and finally us lowly 4-dans.
Now, a brief aside: I have always had a problem with sweaty feet. They are so sweaty that if I am trying to do iaido on a floor with no absorption, it is like doing iai on a floor that has just been mopped -- VERY slippery! And not in a consistent way, either; sometimes extremely slippery, sometimes just a bit slippery, and sometimes kind of sticky if my feet are only moist. ANYWAY, I have been using this crazy industrial-strength spray-on stuff before practices lately. I have been getting good results, too, but I guess the 30-degree heat plus my general nervousness yesterday was just too much for even the toughest anti-perspirant. In short, my feet were completely swampy and I did a horrible demo with lots of slips, stumbles, staggers, and baby steps in between. Very embarrassing, not to mention painful because I did a really nice simultaneous groin-pull-ankle-twist thing when I was doing Yae Gaki (oops, In Yo Shintai).
For the rest of the afternoon I was slip-sliding around in my own juices. Disgusting, yes. Too much information, I know. After the seminar I was totally zonked: exhausted and completely dehydrated. I had gotten a ride with Mr. Fukuchi from our dojo, who is a very talkative guy, but I was too drained to try and understand what he was talking about so I just sat in the passenger seat grunting occasionally while he attempted to explain "Gokui" to me. (Misoo? Anybody? Gokui?)
Oh, in the "Gaijin: Membership Has Its Privileges" category, one of the 7th dans whom I had never met before came up to me with a videotape and said, "Present! Present for you. Please take." It was a video he'd shot of the Kyoto Taikai in May. Apparently, one of the 7-Dans from Nagasaki that I knew when I was there managed to pass his 8-Dan test. He's Shinden, but if you're ever looking for a good Shinden teacher (like there's a shortage of Shinden people, right?) he's young-ish (54?) and speaks English. Very nice guy, named Miyazaki.
Hope you're all well!