Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Seikyu Kai: Appreciating where we came from

This Saturday, Seikyu Kai (the JCCC Kyudo Club) will be starting our 4th Introductory Kyudo Course, welcoming a new group of students to the world of Japanese archery. It's pretty amazing, when you think back, how quickly we have expanded as a club and as an organization. Who would have imagined that in a mere three years we would grow from 15 novice Kyudoka to a class of 30+. Our first attendance at an international seminar this year was an overwhelming success, coming back with one new Sandan, 14 Shodans, and two Ikkyus.  It's good times like these that we must remember and appreciated where it all started.

Seikyu Kai 1st Introductory Course

Last weekend, Michael Tanaka (3 Dan) from the Vancouver Kyudo Club dropped by to visit us at the JCCC. His decision to extend a business trip from earlier in the week gave us the perfect opportunity to meet and learn from one of the founding members of the Kyudo Association of Canada (KAC); who is also the highest ranking Canadian-raised and trained Kyudoka in the organization. It was a pleasure to have him join our regular shooting and taihai practice, and he definitely looked like he enjoyed our hospitality.

As the class came to an end he presented us with a kind speech, complementing our technical abilities while providing guidance on improving our actions and demeanor to align with Japanese standards. His words were both compassionate and experienced, and reinforced how important it was for us to follow the examples that Mie and Yukiko put forth. After class, we proceeded to Jack Astor's at the Shops at Don Mills for a late lunch, where we listened raptly as he recounted the birth of the KAC.

The recent history of Kyudo in our nation consisted of a small group lead by Mike Nakatsu in British Columbia. In 2005, they moved to the VancouverJapanese Language Hall and with the assistance of Motomasa Mori (current KAC president) and Michael Tanaka, started laying the groundwork to renmeihood. The road ahead was eventful to say the least, and made us all the more grateful for their struggle over the years to bring legitimacy to Kyudo in Canada. In 2008, they officially incorporated the KAC as a Society in British Columbia and petitioned for membership in the IKYF (International Kyudo Federation).  With their help, we in Toronto were able to host our first official seminar with Carly Born Sensei (Renshi 5 Dan) from the American Kyudo Renmei (AKR) in 2010, culminating with our first grading at the AKR Seminar in Minnesota this year.

As a new club in the international Kyudo society, we have so many people to thank for our prosperty. The KAC, the AKR, Salvatore Gianfreda, and of course Mie and Yukiko have done an amazing job in confirming Toronto as a great place to do Kyudo.  Each of our members, as well, have shown great enthusiasm and motivation to contribute to the club's well-being and growth; coming up with newsletter articles, seminar activities, and Kyudo equipment of exceptional quality.

And so, with 25 eager individuals looking to join our community, we can think back to our humble beginnings and be encouraged that, with strong leadership in both Vancouver and Toronto, there is much to be optimistic about the future of Kyudo in Canada.

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