Stand with me
Stand with me in my darkest hours as nature releases its tyrant hand. Give me the strength to support those that have suffered loss and those that are in need. Give me the courage to face what has been and what will be.
Trevor Chapman March 2011
I have to admit that I was more than a little disappointed when I received the news that Hiroshi Ozawa sensei and the two other Japanese 7th Dan sensei assisting him were unable to visit Kashi no ki Kenyu Kai and teach the 42 kendoka that had register for the seminar. I and many other kendoka assisting in organising the event were however in total support of Ozawa sensei’s decision to cancel his trip to the UK following the recent devastation of the earthquake and tsunami that had hit Japan.
With only one week to go before the seminar I received encouragement from both my wife and Kazuyo Matsuda sensei to continue with the seminar, so after talking with my members it was decided to ask those that had registered for the seminar to donate the fees to the Japanese Red Cross Earthquake and Tsunami appeal. This decision was welcomed by 90% of the applicants.
Whilst I was in Japan in November I had discussed with Ozawa sensei about introducing a special practice on the Friday, the theme of this practice was to be the role and responsibility of Motodachi. I was keen to continue with this special practice and asked Paul Budden Kendo 7th Dan renshi who kindly accepted to help with the seminar. Before going off to Malta, Paul had just returned from Russia after assisting at a seminar with Masatake Sumi sensei Kendo 8th Dan Hanshi and so I knew that he would have returned with lots of information and ideas after being with Sumi sensei. Ozawa sensei also sent through points to consider on the subject. I also asked Gary O’Donnell Kendo 6th Dan and Kazuyo Matsuda Kendo 6th Dan to assist with the seminar and both had kindly agreed.
By Friday morning Budden sensei had produced a document on the role and responsibility of Motodach. This document can be found on our dojo website here.
The concept of Motadachi was firstly discussed and various interpretations explained from the document produced for the seminar. These were then put into practice starting with Kihon waza using Suri ashi footwork. Kiri kaeshi, Kakari geiko and Uchi komi were also analysed and worked on with the main points of “Clear indication, Invitation, Encouragement, Concentration, and Distance” being constantly emphasised throughout the afternoon session.
On Saturday the main seminar stared with the opening address welcoming everyone, and then Matsuda sensei who acted as a messenger read out a message of apology from Ozawa sensei also thanking all the participants as well as the organisers for their generosity in sending funds to the Red Cross. After this we all stood in silence for one minute in respect of all those that had lost their lives in the earthquake and tsunami. This was followed by a demonstration of Mizaguchi-ha Itto-ryu from Budden sensei and O’Donnell sensei, Ozawa sensei had planned this demonstration at last year’s seminar telling them both to practice for 2011. There was also a demonstration of Kendo no Kata by Masuda sensei and myself.
Budden sensei called himself a ‘caretaker’ and ran the seminar as close as what would have been by Ozawa sensei, namely the fundamental kendo exercises. He divided the participants into three groups as what Ozawa sensei would have done and Budden sensei and O’Donnell sensei coached the seniors, Steve Plimbley & Mark Needham coached the ikkuy to Shodan group leaving myself and Matsuda sensei to coach the junior members attending the seminar.
The theme of Motadachi was to be continued throughout the seminar and Saturday started with a 4 stage application of Kihon keiko ho – Kihon ichi, wearing Do Tare & Kote but no Men and utilising both Suri ashi and Fumikomi ashi approaches and strikes. In the afternoon the practice was split between Nihon Kendo Kata and Mizoguchi ha.
The Shinai session then moved up a level with an intensive Kubun geiko; one that Tashiro sensei had introduced during his recent UK visit –a set of 4 types of Keiko, starting with Kiri kaeshi using BIG Kiai and BIG cutting and breathing emphasis as taught by Sumi sensei, of the initial Kiai on the first single strike then breath in again and cut diagonal 4 forward and 5 back and without inhaling again cut the second straight men before breathing in again to repeat the 9 diagonal cuts and final Men and through in this one breath. Secondly Kakari-geiko where the emphasis was put on Kakarite to build up the attacking spirit through Kiai and Ashi-sabaki. Sensei explained that this build up feeling should be ‘animalistic’ like a cat & dog or Dog v Dog or cat v cat fights as types of examples, squaring up whilst maintaining the far to Shokujin distance before launching into an all out attack lasting for about 10 seconds. Motodachi should not offer openings but maintain a fairly strong ‘central’ looking Chudan kamae but without being over forceful. Kakarite should then attack by breaking this Kamae using techniques such as: Osae, Harai, Uchi otoshi and Seme. Motodachi should not offer too much resistance to these attacks, but should look to deflect inappropriate strikes, attempt counters like Nuki-do and Suriage etc during the Kakari-geiko. Kakarite should attack with small but full sharp cutting actions as many times as they can within one breath. Thirdly Gokaku geiko, a short Ji-geiko where both practitioners attack and counter in a fairly robust but equal fashion for about 30 seconds. Lastly Uchi komi geiko where Motodachi gives clear indications and invitation to strike the various target areas that they offer. Cutting should be again BIG and in both Kakari-geiko and Uchi komi geiko Motodachi should not allow the Maai between them to open up, but should close in each time to adjust if required, so that Kakarite can move freely from the correct distance of Issoku itto without breaking the rhythm..
The day closed with the Motadachi in Shido Geiko
During the lunch break there was an auction of kendo goods and Japanese potteries, which raised £348. Seminar attendees also had the opportunity to write messages in a book for Ozawa sensei and Kobukan members which will soon be forward to Ozawa sensei. I would like to thank Solaway food (Manton Wood, Worksop) for kindly donating the sandwiches to all the participants in support of the event.
The Sunday morning practice was based on utilising and practicing various similar Waza from Kihon keiko ho, Kendo Kata inc Mizoguchi, such as Suriage, Oji and Kaeshi waza, using bokuto and practiced in reciprocal sequences. Kodachi waza were also demonstrated and explained in detail using the same methods. In the afternoon a Shiai and refereeing practice was followed by an intensive Waza session in armour where we put into practice the morning’s techniques in practical Shinai application. Mawari keiko with everybody joining in brought the seminar to a close.
The seminar came to a close at 16:30 and the total amount of funds calculated was £1954.75, including the seminar fees, personal donations, auction money and deducting the hall hire. Kashi no ki Kenyu kai decided to donate from its dojo funds £45.25 to make the total £2,000. At the closing address I also made a small presentation to Matsuda sensei this was a shield named the HIROSH OZAWA FIGHTING SPIRIT AWARD, which is sponsored by Kobukan Tokyo Japan and Kashi no ki Kenyu Kai UK to celebrate Ozawa sensei’s success in passing Hachidan on the 1st May 2010. The sponsors wish was for the award to be used for the Charity Kendo Championships which Matsuda sensei runs each year for the Macmillan and Maggie’s charity.
I received a great deal of positive feedback about the weekend and I am sure that Ozawa sensei would have been happy with the way the seminar had been directed by Budden sensei. I would like to thank all those that attended the event and to those that made a donation but were unable to attend.
I would also like to thank those that gave me donations, my colleagues’ from East Midlands Ambulance Service and Mrs June Ibbotson at Blue Barn Farm. I must also thank Budden Sensei, Matsuda sensei, O’Donnell sensei, Steve Plimbley, Mark Needham and although not directly involved Sumi Sensei for sharing his technical knowledge with Budden sensei, finally my wife for her encouragement and patience.
Dojo leader Kashi no ki kenyu kai