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Summer time … Seminar time …

Summer is generally a period of sunny holiday, relaxing on the beach with a cocktail *Slurp*. Well maybe in July but August is for some of us the kickoff of a new iaido season starting with a bunch of seminars with 2 majors on our list: the ABKF Summer seminar and the NKR seminar in Eindhoven both leaded by a Japanese delegation. Of course other seminars are also organized in August but our ubiquity and wallet duplication ninja talent are not yet powerful enough to go all the place we would like to …

The first one on the august calendar was the NKR seminar. This year we had to opportunity to participate on the Wednesday lesson and follow the delegation composed of Ishido sensei, Yoshimura sensei and Sooji sensei backed up with the helpful translation of Andy Watson.

The seminar started at 9:30 and lasted until 17:00. The seminar was very interesting with Ishido sensei strongly focusing on the reality (Riai) behind kata execution and the fact that kata should be executed using natural and fluid body movements. The 6 hours lesson was a comprehensive recap of the 12 ZNKR Iai katas with a simple formula approx. 10 min. explanations/questions followed of 10 min. practice.

The recap went through basic points such as footwork, correct sword usage such as hasuji, precision to cut the enemy where he is and therefore respecting the riai described in the ZNKR book, but also more specific points such as the now well known Tsuki/Hikinuki combination and Shihogiri footwork.

Ishido sensei also extended his explanations to deeper concept such as zanshin and ki. Describing 3 different ki levels: Sekka, Tsuyu and Bonsho. Bonsho being the highest, a term used to imaging the sound dispersion made when hitting a large temple bell meaning that your zanshin/ki should point/spread in all directions and fill the space. He also recalled the meaning of the 7 folds of the hakama: Yuki – courage / Jin – humanity / Gi – justice / Rei – etiquette / Makoto – sincerity / Chugi – loyalty / Meiyo – honor.

Ishido sensei also addressed the mental attitude expected when participating to a seminar. Trying to empty our mind of all preconception and knowledge being able then to assimilate/compare/accept new ones. He talked about rendoo (Renshu) polishing your technique through repetitive practice (keiko-tanren) as being the best way to progress and reach a natural/fluid kata execution rid of any robotic movements.

The lesson ended with grades group practice. The 5th dan group was leaded by Yoshimura sensei. He insisted of course on the technique who should be close to perfection for those grades “Hum hum Doing our best sensei”. He advised us to train every day with the objectives of the upper grade for ex. a 5th dan must already focus on training as hard and as correctly as a 6th dan would do …

Of course I only listed above some of the points seen during the seminar and writing them out of their context could lead to misunderstanding so I will stop here. So let’s continue to focus on the most important point: practice – renshu

Otagai ganbarimashou !!!