29 March 2012

Takizawa sensei's explanation of kiriotoshi

This video was taken from Takizawa sensei's recent visit. He demonstrates a technique called kiriotoshi This technique is the specialty of the Itto Ryu, which is an old style of Japanese swordsmanship that had a large influence on Kendo. The aim is to cut through you opponent's attack and steal the centre line from them, while they cut you. It is a very difficult and subtle technique. Watching how easy T sensei makes it look might inspire you to give it a try.

23 March 2012

Last training for term 1 tomorrow

 pic of Melbourne's famous Elm trees, from "the Age"

Today's blustery, icy winds and rain are a reminder that it really is autumn now! The upside is that autumn is the perfect time to do Kendo: cooler temperatures make it pleasant to get warm by training.

Tomorrow's class is the last for the term. It is also the last class for the beginner's course. As of next term, all beginners are invited to join the second half of class, and also start to wear bogu. In the beginning only do and tare. So beginners are no longer beginners but part of the main class.

We start again for term 2 on Saturday 21st April.

If in doubt about any dates, please check http://www.kendo.org.au/p/training-dates.html.

18 March 2012

Takizawa sensei visit report

It was a great turnout for Takizawa sensei's visit. There were kenshi of all ages and abilities: even three of my high school students (two current and one former). Kyohei from Benalla also brought three of his students. It was great to see his wife Tomoko return to training after injuring her hand. Many parents and even some passers-by stayed to watch. The little Dojo certainly felt full of people and there was a great energy.

Before we got started, Steph handed out 10th anniversary badges to all NSK members.

My own two angels were there. Jetta only lasted through the warm-up but Sholto did the whole beginners' section of training.

The class started with basic running and footwork drills...

...including our patented kikentaiitchi stomp-clap drill! Note Shinoda sensei's immaculately straight posture!

We did a great deal of shinai geiko in the first half. Takizawa sensei remarked how much like his own Dojo's training this was. 

He later gave us some feedback and tips on further drills, such as the one pictured above: bringing all the motodachi very close together so that the cuts are faster. He also suggested that in a line of multiple motodachi, the last one should not just stand still but move towards the attacker so that the attacker has to judge the closing distance more dynamically.

He noted two points for us to keep an eye on:

  1. Make sure that when coming to face your opponent, you perform sonkyo at to-ma or far distance, in other words, don't cross swords but leave a small space between your sword tip and your opponent. The reason for this is very important he said, and it is because the closing of that gap is  the main part of the battle in Kendo. You should both start by aiming at opponent's centre. If people start with swords crossed then often this creates fear of being struck and this leads to rash and ineffective attacks.
  2. When putting the sword away, we should be careful to understand and use the taito position. This position imitates the sword in its scabbard or saya. We should hold this position as we move the five steps backwards, and only after that lower the sword by our sides.
We will take a closer look at both these points at net week's training.

Many thanks to Shinoda sensei for bringing Takizawa sensei to Melbourne and giving us this wonderful opportunity. I hope some Nanseikan members will in future be able to visit the Shiseikan Takizawa Dojo in Atsugi City, Kanagawa Prefecture.

For more pictures of Saturday's training at Nanseikan and also the afternoon session at Kenshikan, see Shinoda sensei's blog:

14 March 2012

10th anniversary badges have arrived!

Badges commemorating our 10th anniversary are now available.

The first badge is free if you are a currently training member or beginner. If you have more than one kendogi, or you want to put it on a jacket or other piece of clothing, extra badges are $5.00 each.

Overseas orders are welcome too! Contact the Nanseikan email address for ordering details. Badges are 6cm x 7.5cm.

For locals I will have them at training this Saturday.

4 March 2012

Announcing: Takizawa Kenji sensei visit to Nanseikan, 17 March 2012

Takizawa Kenji sensei on the left.

Thanks to efforts of Shinoda sensei, we will be hosting a visit by Takizawa Kenji sensei, Kyoshi 8 dan. He is very interested in teaching Kendo to young people and he has asked specifically to visit our dojo!

Takizawa sensei's father was Takizawa Kozo sensei Hanshi 9(!) dan. He is best known for winning one of the last Tenran Jiai, or special match in the Emperor's presence. Only selected high level kenshi were invited to compete, and in this case it was members of the Imperial Guard. You can read a report about this remarkable kenshi and the match itself here.