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By Myoken Dojo, May 27 2015 12:29PM

Transferred from previous web site

Originally posted on 3 June 2014

Recently our dojo has shrunk in membership and those we have often have weekend work commitments or injuries, so attending national events is not possible, given also the travel time and cost of hotels is prohibitive for some. However this year Elena and I went to represent Myoken dojo. As usual I was refereeing the Iaido competition. Elena was competing in both iaido and jodo.

So all we have to report, apart from having a great time, meeting old and new friends, and all the good feelings that justify the fear, nerves and frustration of competition, is that we learned a lot – as one might expect working at this level.

For me refereeing is always a big challenge, even with many years of experience at National and European levels, and even refereeing in Japan on occasions. Comparing two people, especially when you know them, and trying to balance technical correctness, realism and spirit is never easy. When one displays strong pressure and the other a more positive timing, or when one makes an error and another has stronger spirit – and the referees have to make instant announcements on the call in a manner that all can see creates huge pressure. When the other two referees vote for one side and I vote for the other I spend a lot of time later trying to replay what happened and re-examining my decisions. There is a lot to learn here.

But for the Dojo the great success of the weekend was Elena’s triumphs. In the 4th Dan iaido section she was knocked out by the eventual winner at quarter finals level but was awarded the Fighting Spirit prize. She also joined with two members of Genbukan Dojo in Edinburgh to make a 3-person team in the team event. The team won 3rd place. Well done to all of them for their joint successes, not only Elena but David Hickey (3 Dan) and Matt Bielby (2 Dan) who both gave a great performance.

After some dodgy Indian food on Saturday night Elena was very ill all night and hardly slept, so she clearly expected to be an early victim in the Jodo taikai, especially as she only passed 5 Dan in January this year. For those who don’t know the grading system, 5 Dans cannot apply for 6 Dan until a minimum of 5 years after their 5 Dan grading. This means that many 5 Dans have much more time at this grade level than Elena. But despite all of this she won Silver, being knocked out on a 2-1 decision against Stoyanka Vidic of Seishinkan Dojo in London in the final. Elena also won the 5 dan fighting spirit award and later took a silver medal in the Jodo team competition.

All in all a great day for the dojo, even if this year we were only able to put up one competitor.

Next year we are hoping to do even better. Please see our FaceBook page for photos of the event.


By Myoken Dojo, May 27 2015 12:23PM

Originally posted 17 may 2014

Many of you will remember that i did very little iaido training in 2005-6. In summer 2005 I had one of those silly little accidents that, in my case, put my back so seriously out that I could barely walk. After months of osteo, physio and later massage I got in shape well enough to manage to take part in the 2006 Nationals. It was the first time I’d performed 5 kata and managed to stand up again in 10 months.

I’m not saying this looking for any kind of sympathy, after all it was 9 years ago, it’s all in the past…

… Or is it?

In recent times, as I revisit the details of my performance, testing, checking and polishing the basics, I have become increasingly aware that under certain circumstances I have serious difficulty maintaining correct foot/hip position with left foot at the back. Not always, but chiburi in Seitei kata 5, 7, 9, 10, 12, the first cut in 9 and the main cut of 3 give me real problems. If I force my foot straight as I step back I have a very unpleasant sensation in my back exactly where it was damaged 9 years ago. It is most definitely not all in the past.

As a student, and observing students training, I am firmly of the belief that a teacher who knows is not as respected as a teacher who can do and understands through experience of learning and doing. I am not happy telling a student I am teaching that what they do is wrong if I cannot do it myself, especially such basics. Of course working with a relatively senior student it may be OK to say that I am stll working on such and such point, I haven’t got it yet but I’m sharing the information. But if I’m teaching lower grades basic technique and I can’t do it, I’m not happy.

Last week I discussed the specific problem with Elena and she was able to give me a stretch exercise and massage to help. The stretch is painful, but I can feel it hits exactly the spot. I do it 4 or 5 times a day and hopefully I will be able to fix the problem. Already it is less painful when I push hard and I know that I have a lot of work to do to avoid the comfort zone which arose through consciously or subconsciously trying to protect the injured place.

This has all been a very long preamble to the main point, and it is a point which Oshita Sensei started to make when I was in Japan two weeks ago: if we don’t look after our health we can’t make progress.

By Myoken Dojo, May 27 2015 12:18PM

Transferred from previous web site

Last night training I started to look at every detail that I now need to get right naturally and automatically through adequate practice. Started with Mae: from Standing to sitting, 14 points: 5 still need work. Nukitsuke, 23 points, 4 still need work. Kaburi kirioroshi 23 points, 6 still need work. Chiburi 11 points, 3 still need work. Noto 6 points, 2 still need work. Standing and walking back, 11 points, 3 still need work. I have been doing the one thing I admonish people for: working inside my comfort zone. This is not working. Time to wake up. Oh and time to buy a heavier iaito. In Japan using Trevor’s shin ken which weight over 1Kg I realised a lot of my laziness is due to the sword I train with being too light so my body doesn’t need to work. This makes me lazy and weakens my technique.

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