Teaching environments: summer gasshuku in Japan vs seminar in Europe 夏合宿・海外剣道セミナー

The summer holidays are over here in Japan, and it’s back to school for yours truly after a very busy few weeks of kendo. I am always running around doing kendo during this period, and so am quite used to it, but this year was slightly different in that I combined two events in to a single week… which normally wouldn’t be so bad except for the fact that the dojo were about 5,700 miles apart as the crow flies.

I’ll give a brief explanation about the two teaching environments I was in, and do a simple teaching-observation at the end to wrap-up.

I only came back to Osaka two days ago and I am still suffering from jet-lag as I type this now, so please excuse any spelling or grammar mistakes!

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Eikenkai @ Wakayama Butokuden 第二回英剣会武徳際 in 和歌山武徳殿 (英剣会の特別版)

In August of 2015, my fiends and I got together and held one of my Eikenkai sessions at Nara Butokuden. After the main HQ Butokuden was built in Kyoto in 1899, the next to be constructed was this Nara one in 1903. Little did we know, however, that when we visited it in 2015 there was already plans to knock it down: this historical and beautiful dojo is scheduled to be demolished this very summer. The reason? Cost. It costs too much money to maintain and keep it up to anti-earthquake standards of the modern age. Such is the money-centric world we live in today.

Continue reading Eikenkai @ Wakayama Butokuden 第二回英剣会武徳際 in 和歌山武徳殿 (英剣会の特別版)

Weekend musha-shugyo and research trip 週末武者修行・研究旅

Last weekend I took some time out of my super busy schedule to visit a kendo friend in Iwate prefecture, in the north of Japan’s main island. I’d been promising to go for years, but with this and that, I’d never managed to quite find the time and make good my promise. Realising I’d probably never have a weekend when I wasn’t busy, I just picked a weekend that was good for my friend, booked my flight and hotel, and went. And I’m glad I did! In theory the weekend was mainly about hanging-out, but I ended up doing three keiko sessions over two days, and got in some good research about kendo-related places as well. There was also plenty of dai-ni-dojo time!

What follows is a brief rundown of kendo-related experiences that weekend. If you are interested in doing kendo in Iwate, please keep reading to the bottom. Cheers!

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Kamei Toru sensei’s kendo lecture 亀井徹の剣道上達講座

I’m glad to announce that a project that I worked on with the Japanese kendo magazine “Kendo Jidai” has finally made it to daylight. This is their first ever product aimed specifically at the non-Japanese market, and if everything goes well (i.e. good sales) then hopefully they will go on to produce more English language products (DVDs and hopefully books) in the future.

Continue reading Kamei Toru sensei’s kendo lecture 亀井徹の剣道上達講座

Shugyo 修行

For perhaps the fifth year (or maybe it’s the sixth) I find myself going through ramadan. Well, not exactly ramadan, as I am an atheist (though not irreligious), but I co-opt the month to do my own sort of spiritual and physical discipline (for the same reason I have tried Lent before). During this period I fast during daylight hours, allowing myself only a banana and a piece of chocolate before 6am if I have asageiko on that day, otherwise I eat no food until 7pm-ish, or around about whatever time the sun sets. If I have keiko in the evening it means I may not sit down to eat until after 9pm. As I may do anything from one to three keiko sessions some of these days, I do allow myself to drink water or maybe a cup of black coffee. Even though it’s not ramadan proper, I do believe it still serves as a spiritual exercise meant to better me as a person. This is, to me, an important part of my personal shugyo, of which budo is a part.

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