How did I get here? ( 2010 )
2010 . Re-acquainting with FriendsWithout a doubt, the most fulfilling aspect of our Iaido and Kyudo training has been getting to know all the people in the martial arts communities. Besides my wife, and 3 out of 5 groomsmen, the comrades and mentors I've had the privilege of meeting over the last seven years have only made the bond between my life and the martial arts stronger than ever.
This year was particularly eventful as we journeyed far and wide, visiting and making many old and new friends.
January - We heard about the Greater North East United States Kendo Federation (GNEUSKF) Seminar and Grading from our friend Ron (affiliated dojo in Rochester) and decided to make the weekend trip to New York/Newark to participate in the seminar, a couple of classes and to visit my wife's sister. The highlight of this trip was our introduction and subsequent schmoozing with the local Iaido Sensei at an authentic Izakaya in Manhattan. The grading had ended late in the afternoon, and most people had to work the next day, so it was just a small group of us at dinner. We listened raptly as Kato, Parker, and Farmer Sensei each recounted various training experiences in the US, Europe, and Japan. It seemed like we had barely sat down and started eating, when it was already time to go. From their stories, visions of travelling, physical practice, and discussions of theories filled our heads. "Where would our own Iaido training take us?" we wondered.
The weather was pretty cold our first couple of days in New York, but warmed up substantially on our last day. A morning tour of the East Village in pouring rain preceded an extra-long, flight-delayed wait at Newark International Airport. Nothing could really dampen our spirits, though, as we remembered an utterly enjoyable weekend. We had no doubt we'd be visiting again, sooner rather than later.
|Rockmeisha, New York with Kato, Parker, and Farmer Sensei.|
--- Tangent --- I think that it's very important for a person to have a subject that they are passionate and enthusiastic about. Something, in which, you can pour all your heart and soul into. Indeed, I've realized that one of the most joyous moments in life, is to find someone with the same passion and enthusiasm for a subject as you do. Through this interaction, your mind, spirit and imagination can be set free.
Meeting these people in Iaido, and more recently Kyudo, has been my primary motivation for travelling and I've not been disappointed.
February - In Kyudo there exists the act of Kai, a meeting, which is followed by Hanare, a release. So too does this exist in life.
It was not all happy times in 2010 as one of our Kyudo instructors, Salvatore, had to leave Toronto to further his studies in Chinese medicine. It was still hard to see him go. He was such a great source of inspiration as a Kyudoka, an instructor, and above all, a genuine and kind human being. It's always a huge blow to a dojo when an instructor leaves, especially one that is still in its infancy, but the dedication Mie and the students showed really made the transition a much less painful one. We were joined shortly after by Yukiko and a couple of other volunteers who continue to support and nurture our development. Four months later, we had our first official seminar with an AKR (American Kyudo Renmei) representative. I restarted Kyudo a year later and as of this day, 13 of our club members have been awarded Shodan, two received Ikkyu and Yukiko earned the rank of Sandan and a tournment win, at the 2011 American Kyudo Renmei seminar in Minnesota.
March - Every March Break (Ontario schedule) we make our way to British Columbia for a week of skiing and snowboarding in Whistler. This year, by an astounding coincidence, the Kyudo group in Vancouver was also hosting Blackwell Sensei (Renshi 6 Dan) for a seminar on the weekend of our arrival. Members of the club were most generous in lending their equipment to Michael and Hanna so they could participate for a couple hours of instruction and training. The Kyudo Association of Canada was only a year old, and it was a great chance for members on opposite sides of the country to get to know each other. Although our time there was brief, there was much excitement as we continue to share the experience of growing the art in this country.
Our annual trip to Whistler also gave us the opportunity to visit our good friend, mentor, and former instructor in Jorgenson-Sensei (Renshi 6 Dan). As a co-founder of the Iaido club at the JCCC she was a key member of the growth of Iaido in Toronto, whose presence continues to be missed. Recently moving to British Columbia from Toronto, Jorgenson-Sensei was instrumental in mine and Michael's early development in Iaido. Her work ethic, dedication, and commitment to her students, as well as her own training continues to motivate us.
Hanna and I also got engaged on this trip. Our wedding was held six months later in Toronto where we expressed our joining as that of a growing family. Our Iaido friends accounted for more guests than either of our families individually, and I think this is a testament to what the martial arts community can bring.
We started this year all as friends, and came out of it when a much larger family.
...2010 to continue...