Author: Josh Reyer

Josh Reyer is a 32 year old English teacher studying Yagyu Shinkage Ryu Heiho in Nagoya. (Studying in this case means "trying to suck a little less every day".) He's studied the Japanese language, literature and culture for the last 14 years, six (and counting) of which have been in Japan.

Sinister Swordsmanship

It’s a not uncommon sight on sword-related forums these days. An aspiring student of the Japanese sword arts, left-handed, joins the forum and asks about studying ken (be it kendo, iaido, or aiki-ken) with a left-handed grip. He is quickly informed that no, Japanese swordsmanship is a right-handed affair, that all Japanese swordsman were right-handed, saya were worn on the right and saya-ate avoided at all costs, and trying to learn it left-handed would be weird at best, uncouth and disrespectful at worst. Veteran lefties give him “Ganbare! I’ve been there, too!” encouragement. Righties tell him about all the things …

The How of Co-creation

After three years in Japan, I went back to the States and back to school, doing a BA in Psychology, particularly focusing on social and cultural psychology. I was quite fascinated at the idea of Japanese and other East Asian cultures thinking and even perceiving the world differently. Returning to Japan in 2005, I had a vague idea of wanting to get insight into that way of thinking, take what I could from it, and integrate it with my own Western way of thinking. The best of both worlds. But I had no idea how to really do that, other …

En 縁

On May 1st, 2007, I walked into the No. 2 Arena of the Tempaku Sports Center, in Nagoya, Japan. An elder gentlemen in a kendo-gi and hakama noticed me, politely smiled, bowed, and indicated the spectator seating with his hand. I sat down and observed Mr. Yagyu Koichi and another gentleman practice Sangaku En-no-Tachi, the quintessential form of (Yagyu) Shinkage Ryu. It was my first time to see Shinkage Ryu kata, and it was absolutely unlike anything I was expecting. I was especially impressed when the elder gentleman who greeted me practiced with Yagyu Sensei. Their zanshin, their intensity was …