- The Ken Zen Institute, in lower Manhattan, is a narrow building with an elegant interior that belies a dark and plain exterior. With a beautifully laid hardwood floor and a couple of mirrors on one end, and a large, decorated shrine on the other; the space really captures the essence of an authentic Japanese dojo. Iaido is taught twice a week by Pam Parker Sensei (Renshi 6 Dan) with whom the three of us had many enlightening conversations on Iaido and Budo teachings in general. Her dedication as a student and teacher have inspired us to share the same attitude wherever we go.
- Shidogakuin is located in midtown, just south of Grand Central Station. Iaido is taught once a week by Shozo Kato Sensei (Kyoshi 7 Dan Iaido, Kyoshi 8 Dan Kendo) with assistance from Debi Farmer Sensei (5 Dan). The 5th floor Karate dojo, in which Shidogakuin shares a space, can comfortably fit 12-15 students and sports a full-height, wall-length mirror.
Mark this -unaccomplished-
We made our way downtown again to attend the 4pm class at Ken Zen. Entering the front door and through a small foyer, one could see the dojo stretching deep into the building. The change rooms were located down a flight of stairs and had a common area with a couch and small refrigerator. Our arrival was met with smiles of many familiar faces from previous trips to NYC/Newark and more recently, at the AUSKF Summer Iaido Seminar.
The class schedule for the 10 of us went something like this:
- Seitei - class divided in a 4 x 4 box facing each other with Parker- and Bressler-Sensei in the center. After a couple of forms, each box would rotate so you had a different person in front of you.
- Omori Ryu - same as above.
- Eishin Ryu - With Michael, Hanna, and I lined up on one side, and S. Sekreta, T. Fukui, and G. Hall along the other wall, we would take turns running through each form.
- Embu - Three groups of 3 of us chose any five kata. Hanna was matched with Parker Sensei and S. Sekreta, while Michael and I demoed with T. Fukui.
Demonstrations are always a nice way of ending a visit to a foreign dojo. You get a pressure situation to stress your abilities and at the same time, you get to see the foreign club's Iaido style. I also got some good corrections including, keeping my back heel down in Ushiro, and relaxing the right hand through furikaburi.
|Ken Zen Institute, NYC|
On Sunday, our hope was to have ramen for lunch. Each trip down to NYC, we'd find ourselves at Ippudo or some other noodle house slurping up the good stuff. Alas! Both Hide-Chan and Totto aren't open until after 5pm on Sundays. Instead, we decided to look up one of the places T. Fukui had mentioned to us the night before, Sarabeth's, for quiche, frittata, and pancakes.
- Warm-up, suburi lead by Farmer
- Seitei - Mae & Ushiro multiple times
- Seitei - Ukenagashi + take turns, senior side (Church, Parker, Farmer, Sekreta, Shin), then junior side with advice from the seniors
- Free practice -> Demo for three of us with advice
Personal corrections include - My tsuki being off-line, so try pulling shoulder in less and point center of body towards the target. My saya was also over-turning on sayabiki, and on Ukenagashi, my left foot was off-line, and could be seen when I had to adjust when kneeling during noto.
Mark this -unaccomplished-
We said goodbye to Aya, and continued our trip around town with a walk on the High Line, a railroad turned garden along the west coast of Manhattan. From there, we headed up around Central Park to try out the desserts at Lady M. We were just finishing up when Hanna recognized a customer that had just walked in. Turns out it was Zac Young, a top 4 finalist on the first season of Top Chef: Just Desserts!
Mark this -Accomplished-
|with Zac Young at Lady M, NYC|
What a great way to end a great trip. Visiting family? Success! Visiting Iaido friends? Success! Great training! Great conversations! AND met a Food Network celebrity! ^_^ Definitely a trip to remember.