The Iaido Journal  Jan 2001EJMAS Tips Jar

500 kata practice at the U. of Guelph New Year Practice

By Kim Taylor

It has been recorded that Nakayama Hakudo once did a 2000 waza practice at the iai shrine, he began at 6pm in the evening and finished the next morning before taking a train back to Tokyo. This would mean that he was doing about 100 kata per hour or better for almost 20 hours.

The unlikely band of adventurers above all agreed to do a 500 waza practice for the New Year practice at the University of Guelph, Jan 7, 2000, and to do it within 5 hours, from noon to 5pm. This put us on the same timetable as Hakudo, if not the same distance. To be honest, I wasn't sure if I could do it, and by the day I was wishing I'd tried it first before inviting everyone to try it with me.

The agenda was ten times through the Zen Ken Ren Iai set (1 to 10, repeated ten times), then each kata from the Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu sets, Omori (11), Eishin (10), Oku Iai Iwaza (8) and Oku Iai tachi waza (10) ten times each, which comes to 490. To the end of this was added 10 Yurumi uchi (a walking nuki uchi type kata) and 10 Itomagoi (the first one) plus one each of the second and third Itomagoi just for fun. Altogether that made for 512 waza.

There were numerous blisters, and fatigued legs, a strained ankle, a couple of strained wrists and some other signs of minor stress but nobody was seriously hurt, and everyone saw it through to the end to the best of their abilities. The time? 4.5 hours, which included 5 minute breaks between sets for water and oil, but no fooling around between kata. Nothing was rushed, all kata were performed in their normal time and all steps were done between kata (which was difficult, it's a real temptation to stay on the ground rather than stand up, move and sit down again on almost the same spot).

After a little celebratory sake, and an adjournment to the local watering hole for beef, grease and beer, (hey, look over that photo again), it was decided that all in all it wasn't a bad experience after all. Aren't endorphins wonderful!

In fact, a couple of people remarked that they had discovered and fixed some problems and "hitches" in their swing so were especially happy to have undergone the experiment.

Just for fun I've calculated some rough estimates of what the fellows did at the practice.

540 nuki tsuke and noto
700 deep knee bends (hey, for me that's 175,000 pounds down and up again!)
well over 1500 swings of the sword
180 tate hiza techniques in a row
I could go on but I'm tired and for some reason my fingers aren't cooperating on the keyboard at the moment, the blister on each hand isn't helping much, thankfully they're small and have already ripped open.

Congratulations to the participants, we may try the same thing next year, perhaps the stiffness will be out of the legs by then. As for Hakudo's 2000 waza, perhaps one day, but I think not any time in the next week or so.

TIJ Jan 2001