Monday, 12 September 2011

Welcome! ...part 1 of 6

Greetings and Welcome! 

Over the years, Iaido and, more recently Kyudo, training have become such an integral component of my life that they have become virtually inseparable. The purpose of this blog is to share the many experiences and lessons that I've benefited from and look forward to in the future through the practice of these wonderful martial arts.

How did I get here? ( 2004 - 2007 )

2004 . Beginning
My first exposure to Iaido happened by chance about a year ago from an article in the Toronto Star. An interview with one of the instructors at the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre (JCCC) described, in detail, the goals and emphasis of this martial art. My twin brother and I were in our final year of University and were looking to the future; of a new beginning with a job (hopefully soon) and to start practicing a non-combative discipline. Keeping the article stowed away, we patiently completed our degrees and in the Fall of 2004, contacted the dojo at the JCCC for more information. Thus, our training began with a group of 12 other newbies. 

2005 . Development
As Winter turned to Spring, our training opportunities gradually increased and we soaked up all the information we could get from Class, 2nd Dojo (after Class get-togethers), various books and online sources. Our first experiences with local workshops, gradings, tournaments and seminars with Japanese Sensei were all eye-opening and an absolute delight to be a part of. The only thing more fulfilling than the score of training opportunities are the friends we met along the way. The various people we met this year have become, to this day, some of our closest friends within Iaido and our personal life.

2006 . Evolution
Our dojo has an interesting curriculum; sometimes rigid, other times.......not so much. =P While Koryu is typically not taught until 2 Dan or above, it's possible for a class or two of Omori-Ryu or Eishin-Ryu practice that involves the entire class. With a little more than a year under our figurative belts, our eyes were opened to even more possibilities. Besides the aforementioned Shoden and Chuden sets, we were exposed to supplemental training methods such as Tachi-Uchi-no-Kurai and Tameshigiri. Activities like these introduce Spacing, Timing, Angles, Accuracy and Power, and continue to increase our knowledge of the intricacies of Iaido. This was a time of immense growth in students at our dojo, maxing out at almost 50 members. While space was limited, the JCCC was ever accommodating of our needs. 

2007 . Adventure
Every three years in Ontario, a dojo would host the Canadian Iaido Open tournament. In 2004, just a month before I started, this Taikai was held at the Etobicoke Olympium. As 2007 approached, we looked forward to our first chance at testing our mental and physical competencies. The event was generously hosted by the Tateyama Iaido Club in our nation's capital of Ottawa, Ontario. Results and Pictures were posted to EJMAS:

Shinjuku Station, Tokyo with Hatakenaka Sensei
The second major adventure of the year technically began in May, when a group of us from the JCCC Iaido Club (Mu Mon Kai) discussed with the visiting Japanese Sensei the possibility of travelling and Training in Japan. This endeavour became a reality half a year later, after which I posted a report on EJMAS:  
It turned out to be an amazing site-seeing + training holiday where Sensei, we had previously only heard, became real people. Names like Kikkawa, Jones, and Yoshimura, joined the familiar presences of Hatakenaka and Tsubaki, to become gracious hosts for our small band of low ranking foreigners.  The two weeks of practice, learning and watching were experiences we would not soon forget.

This year also marked a beginning of sorts, when a new student joined our dojo, looking to practice Iaido until Kyudo became available. Quick to realize she was a once in a lifetime catch, we became good friends, and were married three years later.  ^_^

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