Dojo

Summer Seminars

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Hello Everyone, We will be having two kenjutsu seminars this summer. The first will be on Sunday, July 6th and will be a beginner level seminar. The cost will be 65$. This seminar will be a great opportunity to expose interested friends to kenjutsu while being a good review for those who have already been training. Our goal is to have 30 attendees, including our own students. Please let us know if you are attending so we can keep track.

The second seminar will be on August 2nd and 3rd (the Saturday and Sunday) and will be a more advanced seminar for those who have already trained kenjutsu. It will cover in depth theory of classical shinai kata and iaijutsu movement. The cost for this will be 120$, and our goal as well is to have 30 attendees. As with the first seminar, please let us know ASAP if you are planning on attending.

 

2014 Kurimoto Gardens

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We are currently planning our performance for this years Kurimoto Japanese Garden Spring Festival in Devon for the annual festival. The date is Sunday June 1st, 2014. Once again, we will be displaying some of the swords and other antiques owned by some of our members. To have the best performance possible, any students intending on performing need to attend class on a regular basis, and keep up on their training. If you are not coming to class regularily and would like to be apart of our performance/sword display please contact Mark asap.

Typically we arrive at the gardens around 10:00ish and we finish the performance around 1pm. The festival runs from 11am - 4pm.

We will be working out a schedule for the performance shortly and will be sending out more information soon. Please check your personal schedules and make the necessary arrangements if you plan to attend the

festival.

Grading

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Noble House will be having a grading on Saturday, January 18. The grading will start at 10:30am. Those grading, and all other students should arrive by 10:00am to prepare everything for the grading. For those who haven't been to one, gradings are something that all students should make every effort to attend whether they are testing or not. It is important to support, and help those that are testing, as well as to witness it. Students who are interested in grading should submit their names to David.

Give from the Heart

It was a rainy day. I was outside cleaning the front porch of the dojo. The clouds were getting thicker. The sky changed to a dark grey colour and the rain drops were getting bigger. It did not always come down straight – sometimes it would go around you and sometimes it would go side ways, but eventually it would all end up on you and on the ground.I like the rain. I would usually walk slower when it is raining. I would put down the umbrella, remove the hood of my rain coat, and look up at the sky and let the rain drops fall on my face and eyes. I like that feeling. Refreshing! Even today, when there is no one around me! I also love to see how other people react to the rain. Some would speed up their pace, others would lower their heads and running for cover! Some would even do silly dances just to avoid getting wet! Is quite entertaining to watch, especially when the rain is coupled with the action of the wind. Yamamoto Sensei's home is in Nara, the small dojo is part of the house. When it would rain in this area, it would rain suddenly. The rainfall would be short and would be followed by sunshine. "Don't have to sweep today! Is raining! Come in quickly!" Sensei calling me in a hyper tone - “Go and help Akiko take the laundry inside, (Akiko is sensei's wife.) Your hair is all wet! Go dry yourself first; you are going to catch cold!" "You won't catch cold like that! Cold is from viruses!" Sensei waved his hand, "Just go dry yourself up and don't talk too much! Hurry! The rain is coming.” "Hai" I replied. Who is talking too much, I only said a few words, and it is Sensei himself who was doing most of the talking. Now you see what a little rain can do to people, it even makes sensei restless. I heard Mrs. Yoshida's voice talking to Akiko at the door. I hadn’t seen her since last summer, so I went out to see what was happening. Mrs. Yoshida was an elderly lady in her seventies. She rode a very old and rusted three wheel bicycle, carrying two heavy boxes packed with ice and fish. I heard from Akiko that her husband was injured in the war and lost both legs. They had only one son that died in an accident while working on a fishing boat. Before sunrise each morning, Mrs. Yoshida would go to the fish market and would pickup seafood to sell to the local restaurants. At night she would make waraji (Japanese shoes make with straw) and try to sell them to the locals. She was poor but seemed to be happy. The Japanese government provided them with very little social assistance. She worked very hard into her golden years just making enough money to support her husband and herself. When I got to the door, I saw a familiar face, a little old lady, hunch down and turning up to look at me. The wrinkles on her face looked like the lines on an old map, which told me that she had walked through many endless, long and hard roads. As she started to smile, and her wrinkles even get deeper. “You are here again! Summer holidays? How are you? Are your parents here too? I haven't seen them a few years!" Mrs. Yoshida likes to talk and would have many questions before you had a chance to answer. "You are not much taller than last year!" As she touched my head and looking at Akiko, said "you should feed him more! He is still so skinny! Feed him a few more bowls of rice!" "He doesn't eat much, telling him to eat is more difficult than telling him to climb a mountain" replied Akiko. "Make him some natto (fermented soya beans) mixed with rice! It's good for kids, make them grow taller! " Akiko was laughing and looked at me, "maybe I should make you some for supper tonight!” Ya, right! It will give me an upset stomach and never mine making me taller! Some people do like natto, even for breakfast. I would lose my appetite for a week just smelling it! But if you are on a weight loss program, do give it a try! While bowing down even lower and looking at Sensei and Akiko, Mrs. Yoshida said, "I heard we have a storm coming, all the restaurants are closing early this evening. I have a lot of fish left over! These are good fish! I will give you two for the price of one if you can help me a little and buy one or two more? Or please ask you neighbors if they want to buy some too?" She went to the back of the bicycle, uncover the plastic sheet and open the boxes with her stiff, arthritic, half frozen fingers. "Please let me help!" said Sensei. I went over and try to help but Sensei told me not get too close or I would get my cloths wet! "Please look, those are very fresh; I just picked them this morning! But don't buy this two fish heads. The fish market vendor gave it to me for free, it is yesterday's stock. I put this on the side, they are not as fresh! We will eat it for supper tonight." Sensei looking at the fish said "actually I like to buy those fish heads too! It is good for shabu-shabu (Japanese hotpot) or deep fried. I will buy all these and you keep these two fresh fish for supper." Sensei taught me how to tell when fish are fresh by looking at the eyes; the two fish heads Sensei chose for shabu-shabu were definitely not fresh! Sensei opened his wallet "Please take this and go home early – the wind is picking up! Don't give me a discount – I want to pay in full price! Those are good fish! I have guests coming tonight and lucky you are here with extra fish. If not, I would have had to rush to the market in this weather. Thank you very much. Be careful when you are going back!" I watched Mrs. Yoshida riding her bicycle, in the cold rain with the wind beating on her back. She slowly disappeared in the rain! She reminded me my grandmother, but with much of a different life! For some reason this uncomfortable feeling made my eyes water. Luckily it was raining! It hid it well. Sensei told me before "Samurai don't cry!" I am sure it was not tears, it was just the rain! Sensei helped Akiko divide the fish in a few plastic bags, and hands over his umbrella and gives me some of the fish. "Careful! Is heavy! Please help Akiko bring these fish to the neighbors, go now and come back early. We may have a bad storm tonight! Leave these two fish heads for me; I will cut them up as bait for fishing tomorrow! After the storm, it is usually is good time for fishing! No training tomorrow. We will go fishing in the morning and go to Nara Park to see the deer afterwards!" Sensei smiled. "Don't worry, Mrs. Yoshida will be fine." Akiko gave most of the fish away that afternoon and only kept two for ourselves. We did not have shabu-shabu for dinner nor did Sensei have any guests joining us that evening. After dinner, Sensei was drinking his tea and reading newspaper, Akiko was doing her housekeeping. I was reading my comic books and watching TV. It's just another normal evening in Yamamoto's house. We did not talk about it afterwards. I think we all understood in our hearts that there was no need for an explanation. That night before I fell asleep, I wrote down the last sentence in my little daily in big letter "I LIKE YAMAMOTO SAN".

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Practice Less

Practice less, don’t work too hard, it is better for you! During the past few months while I was observing my students (suburi) practice, they appeared to be working very hard and putting every effort into the practice - at least in my presence. Do they really get anything out of the practice? Maybe, maybe not, maybe the technique is getting worse! It is dependent upon how you practice.

I once had a senior student told me that he practiced 300 cuts a day. Another student heard this student’s comment and replied, “I practice 400 to 500 cuts a day", and then another student interjected into the conversation and said, "I practice 1500 cuts a day"! I then asked the last student “how much time does it take you to practice 1500 cuts? His reply was, “around 25 minutes". I then asked, what are you thinking about during these 25 minutes? “I am counting!" I replied, “You better not lose count, or you will have to start all over again!”

Suburi is a repetitive movement technique. If you do it correctly over a short period of time you will show improvement. It is a method of programming information into your subconscious mind – part mentally, and part physically. If you use the correct technique, with each cut you make, you will improve. With the wrong technique, the opposite results will occur.

In the beginning, the body will train the mind to recognize what is the correct movement and what is not. The mind will analyze this information and retain it. After continuous, slow and careful practices, the mind will take on a role in correcting and perfecting each movement.

Each person has their own way of practicing and each teacher will have their own method of teaching. The final goal is to achieve the results and ultimate techniques of perfection. If the goal is achieved, and you have not injured yourself, there is no right or wrong method of practice. My recommendations for the practice of suburi – is to start with slow correct movements, doing each step in detail required for the movement. Then practice until you become tired or have lost your concentration. This could be from 50 to 80 good quality cuts and then you should stop. Any further practicing will not necessarily improve the end result. In fact, you may suffer from injury in your muscles or in your joints. Until your technique has improved, and you have become stronger, then you can consider practicing a little longer. After all, suburi is a life-time of training.

Remember, cut with your mind!

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As Autumn Comes

As autumn comes, that beautiful golden and red color reminds me of a time when I visited my sensei’s dojo. Normally, October is not my training season, but that year I accompanied my mother to an ikebana conference in Tokyo. So, I had a chance to visit my sensei again. The Dojo was the same: clean, quiet, everything in order. But I see that the garden is a bit different. The trees only have a few yellow leaves on them. That maple tree, I remember it was full of leaves in the summer and now only has a few red leaves. It is still beautiful, just different. It gives me a chance to see what those branches are really like. But I was hoping to see it in full autumn color! As I was day dreaming and watching the sunlight go between those tree branches, I heard Sensei say "You should have come a few days early kid. Don’t you remember that one of the classical poems said: ‘If it is time to pick the flowers, you should pick them. Don't wait another day, you may miss your chance!’ It was full of color

a few days ago. The leaves are still here, just on the ground! But it is good you are here now, you can clean up the leaves!"

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Schedule Update

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Starting at the beginning of October, our training schedule will be Wednesday and Friday evening, with no Monday class. For students who have Monday as their regular training day, please talk to Andrew about switching to another class. This will be in effect starting the first Monday of October, the 1st.
As well, since the reeds have dried up and are not suitable for cutting, we cannot test cut in class again until next summer. Students should show up at the regular time for

class on Friday, and no longer need to arrive at the earlier time to tie bundles.