A Kohai’s journal – my first trip
© 2008 Christina Pringi, all rights reserved
Friday 12:00 a.m.
So here I am. I have been training in
Iaido for one year. I’ve just come back to my residence room after
the first evening, where I met some top Iaido and Jodo senseis from
across Canada, as well as fellow students. There are folks here from
all over, dojos stretching from Vancouver to Halifax and down to New
York State and Idaho. I hope to meet more of them later on. We’re
all pretty excited to be here and looking forward to tomorrow.
I (wish I was, but) am not testing this
time around – in a way, it’s good - I can focus on being a
sponge. I’m thrilled but at the same time intimidated at the
prospect of training with these venerable teachers who have come all
the way to Guelph, Ontario from Japan. My thoughts have been taken
up with attending this seminar for awhile, even though I know
that a two hour Iai class exhausts me, and this is going to be three
full days. Then I think about the time and effort involved putting
the yearly “Guelph experience” together – it’s staggering. So
it was probably the same trepidation that the Canadian Senseis
experienced when they undertook to bring this event together, eighteen
I need to remind myself that the best
thing about trying something for the first time is…you don’t know
that you can’t do it!
The first half of the day we went
through sei tei 1- 6. Hatakenaka sensei was at the front and we all
did the kata one by one. After the break we had individual practice,
and I received some good advice for uke nagashi in particular. I tend
to like the kata that are exceedingly difficult to do well, like
ushiro. Yes, I suck at it, but maybe someday…
Hatakenaka sensei demonstrating a
point. Photo by Nancy James.
ow. lactic acid…!
Sei tei 7-12. [We had the opportunity
to learn some jodo as well this afternoon, but I thought I’d better
stay with Iai this time around, there’s plenty of time to learn Jo
at my home dojo, A.Y.C. (Toronto)]. I heard that someone was filming
some of the Jodo practice, which will really be useful for the “folks
back home” who couldn’t make it this year.
okay, maybe I’m a bit tired.
We did a demonstration of kata 1 – 12
at the end of the day. I remember most of it, I think. I am looking
forward to that hot bath. As I type I’ve got the ice pack on
(multi-tasking). I wouldn’t want to miss the nachos next door…see
Slept through my alarm – again!
Looking at some of my club members’
faces this morning makes me glad I hit the sack early - around
midnight…I managed to catch up with some jodo friends at the
dinner, and the auction was a hoot (I had no idea the Cruise Sensei had
such a thing for that little jodo figure. He should try t-shirts
next year). So many creative people in the martial arts! And it’s
amazing what people will pay for a used water bottle
It’s all about Sayabiki.
Tsubaki Sensei had us do our kata with
kiai. Let’s just say, you sure can tell which people take Kendo!! I
think I managed to squeak out something that might terrify my 90
year old cat (maybe).
There have been so many corrections. I
brought my notebook so I could take notes half way through - I missed
a bunch of them yesterday. I’m a hapless zero-kyu and the senseis
are taking the time to correct me for the umpteenth time, for which
I’m grateful. Regardless of any language barrier I am still
getting the sense that they take a deep interest in the kyu students’
progress even though we’re not the star students. Their kindness
is evident in the way they tirelessly repeat the same points we
should have remembered from yesterday (!) as if they are saying it
for the first time.
What a spread - you’d think we’d
all be hungry enough to eat all this food…maybe we’re to full of
“spirit”? (Maybe I am full of something else – wink!)
…did somebody say “fireworks”?
10:30 p.m. CRASH.
We (the kyus) were allowed to join the
koryu group! Very exciting…I was pretty lost. The forms are
captivating. I was amazed at Hatakenaka Sensei’s seme, and
especially in uke nagashi, her metuske showed exactly that the
opponent was nearly on top of her (and that they were going to be
really, really dead soon).
Our Ikkyu and Shodan testers came back
TUNK. That’s the sound the bokken
made as it hit my head. I’ve been dying to try this! It doesn’t
look as good as when Senseis Furukawa and Kurogo do it. Okay, I
really have to work on that kiai. Luckily my partner’s in the same
boat as me in that department…
It’s Enbu Taikai time…!
(I had the pleasure of demonstrating
with the up-to-Nidan group, no pressure…)
The Sensei did a demonstration for
us, after three days of teaching, jet lag, etc. they are still
The jodo demonstration by Senseis
Kurogo and Furukawa was very impressive. Jodo is next on my list. I’ll
be participating in it next year for sure.
With a full brain and a full heart I’m
heading back home, trying to digest all of the things I have learned
(on and off the “dojo floor”). I think it will take a while for
everything to filter down into my actual practice, although I noticed
that even when I was dog-tired, at the end of each day when we did a
wrap-up of the kata I still managed to improve my form. And to think
all of our local Senseis work hard to bring this to us, on top of
slogging away at the dojo every week. And the senseis we saw for
only a few days, who came all this way to watch our (gulp) Iai…it’s
easy to feel affection as well as the usual deep respect for them,
for the time they chose to spend with us. It was touching to hear
Kikkawa sensei say that if we continue on with the passion for Iaido
that we have shown we’ll have a country of great Iaidoka. Domo
Arigato Gozaimashita, Sensei!
…and we get to do this every year?