Monday, March 21, 2011

[Karate] Iaido at Last!

This weekend was insane, and this morning totally snuck up on me. Let me tell you a bit about my weekend.

The core of it was my trip to Ottawa on Saturday. I went with Dave Oddy of Syracuse Jundokan, and we drove up to Mike Sywyk's East Wind Budo Life Center. It was a bit of a hike - almost three hours each way - but it was totally worth it. I was going to a martial arts seminar. At long last, I was actually going to learn Iaido.

Granted, I wasn't going to learn MUCH Iaido - it was only a 3-hour seminar, after all. But it was absolutely jam-packed. We did Iaido the entire time, with no breaks. It was glorious!

Regular readers may remember when I wrote about not being able to find an Iaido teacher in or near Syracuse. So when Dave saw that there was a seminar on the style being held at one of his sister dojos (East Wind also connects up to the main Jundokan dojo in Okinawa, home to Goju-Ryu karate), he made sure to give me a shout.

The seminar was taught by Robert Davis of the IaidoEast dojo. His knowledge of Musō Jikiden Eishin-ryū Iaido, and his thirty years of experience practicing and teaching this ancient art, were extremely evident. Granted, I wouldn't know good Iaido from bad (I mean, I would probably intuitively recognize really incompetent Iaido, but any shades of grey would surely be lost on me), but Sensei Davis's quiet competence was really inspiring and just incredible to watch.

For three solid hours, we drew the sword (in my case a wooden bokken practice sword), cut down our imagined enemies, shook our blades clean, and returned them to the sheath. We did it standing. We did it walking. We did it kneeling (in four different directions). Oh, it was glorious!

I paid for it on Sunday. My quadriceps have never been very flexible, which means three hours of kneeling left me in extreme discomfort and nearly unable to walk, but I don't care. It was totally worth it. I'm deeply grateful to Sensei Oddy, Sensei Sywyk, and Sensei Davis for exposing me at long last to this 500+ - year-old martial art. It was every bit as precise, as focused, as meditative, and as graceful as I'd anticipated. Now I just have to find a way to become a regular student of Sensei Davis.

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