Friday, February 10, 2006

No Grading For Me

Just when I thought I would be able to take a grading next month ... my dad mailed my jodo certificate to me and, surprise surprise, the date on it was May 2003. So I'm not eligible to grade until May of this year. Oh well. It saves me a bit of stress and a lot of money.

Meanwhile, I am practicing a little bit in Fukushima with Tanaka Sensei. "A bit" means about once a week. Mr. Kimura, the local veterinarian, is kind enough to drive me into the city every Wednesday night. (I learned recently that he was the prefectural 5th dan champion and their delegate to the Nationals a few months back.) Although it has been warming up, the gym is still extremely cold; you can see your breath as you practice, and the floor is numbing, even with tabi on your feet. But I'm not complaining. It's better than trying to practice in summer when it is so hot. In fact, except for my feet, it's quite comfortable once I get moving.

Tanaka Sensei continues to have a lot of corrections for me. He wants me to do things the way I used to do them before I started practicing in Chiba. First I get bent one way, now I'm being bent back! I don't mind it particularly, but I think I understand how Chris Gilham felt when he travelled all around Japan and met people who were doing "standard" iaido in a hundred different ways. I suppose it's natural that the people who do things differently tend to be the provincial Hachidan Hanshis who don't feel the need to change what they're doing just because some committee in Tokyo says so! I experienced the same thing down in Nagasaki. But then I went to Chiba (which is adjacent to Tokyo) and got hammered with the "orthodox" Seitei Iai ...

Anyway, it's just a different emphasis, I think. Seitei iai (by which I mean "Tokyo" seitei) seems to put a lot of emphasis on the correct kamae. For example, on number 6, you cut to the face, stab, then turn quickly into a sort of jodan kamae before you step through and cut. Tanaka sensei emphasizes not standing still or stopping the sword at any time, so there is no kamae at all. Kind of resonates with what Musashi says in Go Rin no Sho. Anyway, as I mentioned before, Tanaka sensei's iai resembles Haruna sensei's iai (as I remember it anyway) so I'm happy to learn it. It just takes a slightly different mindset because the riai, or interpretation, is a bit different.

What else is new ... I bought a jo and took it to work, thinking that I would have some time to practice in my lunch hours or after school. Needless to say, it still hasn't even been unwrapped. I might go to school tomorrow (Sunday) to practice with the kendo club. They asked me to come up and teach them iai, but now they seem to be hemming and hawing, and just want me to come and do kendo with them. It's been a really long time since I played kendo, but I guess I've got nothing better to do. (Nice attitude, huh?)

Next Sunday, there will be a Fukushima-ken iaido seminar, so I might finally get to see Tanno Sensei. He's the guy who won the All-Japan 8th Dan championships recently, so I'm looking forward to seeing his iai. Tanaka Sensei might even suit up; I gather that he practices iai every morning by himself, so for the last 4 or 5 practices, he hasn't even changed out of his civilian clothes. I'm looking forward to seeing his stuff, too. I'll tell you how it goes!


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10:56 PM  

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