Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Asia Trip 2012: Iaido in Tokyo - Day 7

TUE 24-JUL: Seventh day in a row! Joints starting to feel the strain... must...not... give in...

Hatakenaka Sensei and Tsubaki Sensei were generous enough to meet us for lunch prior to the noon training session, and we took this opportunity to ask a few questions. We ate at an Izakaya across the street from the Shinjuku Cosmic Centre and chatted over some excellent homestyle cooking. It was just like "2nd dojo".... except in reverse order.


1. Zekken

We had noticed that members of her dojo were either (a) not wearing Zekken, (b) wearing Zekken with Tokushi Kai, or (c) wearing Zekken with Shinjuku. With (c) being the most prevalent.

"Hatakenaka Sensei, what's up with that?" <--- Not translated word for word

The purpose of the Zekken is to allow a travelling student (to seminars, tournaments, or other classes) to indicate what organization they train under and what their name is. In Japan, it is unwise, and close to impossible for you to train outside your home dojo without a Zekken.

So which one would you wear?

Only in rare cases, for extremely small events would you actually need to wear a Dojo Zekken. For city-wide events like Tokyo, a student of Hatakenaka Sensei, Kikkawa Sensei, or Yoshimura Sensei (just to name a few) would wear their Shinjuku Zekken. For prefecture events, they would wear their Tokyo Zekken. And finally, for national events, they would use the name of their prefecture, which also happens to be Tokyo. (Ex. Tamano City members would use an Okayama Zekken)

So what would this mean in terms of Canada? Since Iaido is still pretty small in terms of organization; we don't have provincial administrators, it would still be acceptable to wear Dojo Zekken even in national events. However, those travelling internationally would do better to get a Canada Zekken. (Or Toronto Zekken, since everyone knows that Leaf nation is the centre of the universe)

2. Tokushi Kai (篤志会)

How did her dojo name come about?

The two Kanji making up the name of her club are Toku (篤), taken from the first character in her name Atsumi (篤美), and Shi (志).

Toku (篤) defined like Jyonetsu (情熱) means PASSION, while Shi (志) means RESOLVE, HOPE, and LOVE.

A great name for a Martial Arts club. It gives an identity, as well as a goal, for the members to live up to.


After lunch we began our early afternoon practice at the Cosmic Centre. A 300yen ticket at the vending machine got us in, and we got to the change rooms just as the previous session attendees were leaving. A couple of men were carrying sword bags, so I would assume they were there for Iaido as well.

Since it was only the 6 of us using the space, and with only one practice remaining, we decided to ask Hatakenaka Sensei a series of technical questions. Our goal was to clarify instruction that was passed to us at Guelph these past couple of years, and I think we satisfied a few lingering issues that were confusing. Looking forward to bringing these back to Canada.

The discussion was very productive, and with just a couple of hours left in our session, we all spread out and went about our own practice. Occasionally, Tsubaki Sensei would give Peter and Michael some advice, while Hatakenaka Sensei gave all of us some tips to improve our technique.

It really is a completely different experience and feeling watching Hatakenaka Sensei practice away from the pressures of jet lag and 100+ pairs of foreign eyes on her (as always the case in Guelph). Her Iai is at a much higher level; relaxed, flowing, and powerful. In her comfort zone, she is a marvel to watch. Much like we can see from the highest levels of Kyudo, an 8 Dan Iaidoka also exudes Shin (真) - Truth, Zen () - Goodness, and Bi () - Beauty.

Being able to see this level of Iai up close is already worth the trip. With the added benefit of indepth personal instruction, we have more than enough stuff to work on for the next couple of years. We really can't emphasize enough how important it is to look for opportunities to train in Japan.

With another excellent training day at an end, we treated ourselves to All-You-Can-Eat Yaki Niku (BBQ)!! ^_^

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