From May 20 to 24 approximately 100
students of the stick and the sword gathered at the University of
Guelph to study under 6 visiting sensei from Japan and our own Canadian
From Japan we hosted Yamasaki Masahiro (8dan hanshi iaido), Shiiya
Mitsuo (8dan jodo), Kurogo Genji (8dan jodo), Tsubaki Fumio (7dan
jodo), Morii Mitsuo (7dan jodo) and Morii Kayoko (5dan jodo) and from
Canada we enjoyed the iaido instruction of Ohmi Goyo (7dan iaido),
Stephen Cruise (6dan iaido) and Ken Maneker (6dan iaido). Yamasaki
sensei is a member of the All Japan Kendo Federation Central Iaido
committee and is chief instructor of the Mugenkan Yamasaki dojo in
Shizuoka. Shiiya sensei and Kurogo sensei are both menkyo kaiden in the
Shindo Muso ryu and are part of a team of 4 hachidan menkyo instructors
who teach the Canadian Kendo Federation jodo students twice a year on a
l-r, Morii, Tsubaki, Shiiya,
Yamasaki, Kurogo, Morii
Classes on Friday evening started with jodo kihon and then split into
two groups with the seniors practicing a bit of koryu. When it was
determined that the seniors were now terrible at both seitei jo and
koryu, we all adjourned to a bar to commiserate each other. Saturday,
Sunday and Monday saw alternating iaido and jodo classes in the main
dojo, and smaller free practice classes in the subsidiary dojo. At one
of these free practices students sometimes found themselves being
trained one on one with some of the instructors, in fact one student is
now bragging about his session alone with 5 jodo sensei, until one
other student showed up and ruined his ratio.
The senior iaido instructors also got a chance for some face-time with
Yamasaki sensei who put them through an exhausting class. During the
hour plus (I lost track of time) they never left Mae, the first
technique of Zen Ken Ren Iaido (seitei). It was great to see students
from 5 to 7dan sweating over the most basic technique we practice...
and it was something that all beginners should have had a chance to
watch. Handusom Boy from Thunder Bay was singled out for a nice cut and
good spirit, but the most lasting effect of this class will, I suspect,
be the nickname bestowed by Yamasaki sensei.
Several of the jodo seniors were grading this year so they received
some special attention from Shiiya sensei as well, who was very
demanding. Bruises were proudly compared in the change rooms, and those
off-target were especially noted with much finger pointing and laughing
at the culprits.
To the many beginning students who attended the seminar, the seniors
would like to send our thanks, without your participation we wouldn't
be able to train with our own instructors. It may seem to you that
you're being taught well above your level (and you are) by these senior
instructors from Japan, but the training that we get along side you
will benefit the arts as a whole for the next year or so. By supporting
us you allow us to support you.
On Sunday morning we held iaido and jodo gradings for the CKF. It's a
pleasure to report that all the iaido students (mostly ikkyu with a
nidan and a yondan challenge) passed, as did all the jodo students,
from ikkyo to yondan. The Jodo instructors, four of which sat on the
grading panel, were well pleased with the level of skill shown by the
Tuesday morning was reserved for a review jodo class where all the
various comments made over the previous four days were reinforced for
Overall the seminar was a great success, and the arts in Canada moved
forward another step. On a social level, the seminar was also
successful, and I'm proud to say that I managed to snag Shiiya sensei's
wonderful hat for my own after spirited bidding at the Saturday evening
auction. Those who know me know of my fondness (and need) of
disreputable hats and this one is broken in just right. I detected a
tear of regret in sensei's eye as he saw it go (apparently the other
sensei put it into the auction for him) but there is no question of it
My personal thanks to the students of Sei Do Kai, past and present, who
always step up to support the seminar in more ways than can (or should)
be mentioned. Special thanks go to Misoo Ko and Ed Chart who, along
with Kimeda sensei took their usual excellent care of the sensei.
Thanks also to the students who attended and found jobs that needed
doing, and did them. Don't think we don't notice your good deeds! We
certainly do and we thank you for them.
I invite the other folks who attended the seminar to send me your
stories of the weekend, and we'll post them here.
The photographs are linked to large jpeg files which you can download
and get printed at any local print shop.
I hope to see you all next year on the Victoria Day weekend of May
20-22 at the 2006 seminar.
Group photo, Saturday lunchtime