Friday, 9 December 2011

2011 Eastern Canada - Fall Iaido Grading

Toronto's last few days of above seasonal temperatures ended rather abruptly on a Saturday morning in early December. While it is difficult to prove any correlation between a bitter, chilly day and an Iaido grading, the historical evidence just can't be ignored.

The parking lot at the Etobicoke Olympium was once again jam packed with family cars and minivans, a clear indication that the annual youth swimming competitions were in full swing. I watched enviously as the lucky few, who were able to find space in the small, front parking lot, made their way casually to the looming black building. The rest of us drove an extra 200 meters towards the stadium, where the large lot was quickly filling up.

Michael and I hastily made our way across the field, inside, and down the stairs to meet up with Ohmi-sensei and Hanna. Volunteers from the Etobicoke and Hayakawa Iaido clubs were already registering participants, and were just about to start setting up the dojo when we arrived. Grabbing some masking tape and a few more eager helpers, we proceeded to tie up all the divider curtains and rolled up the floor mats to a non-intruding corner.  Chairs and tables would be moved onto the floor later for judges and spectators.

The day would start with a seminar from 9am to noon, and was an ideal way to warm up and forget about the crisp temperature outside. As CKF's Iaido Chief Examiner, Ohmi-sensei proceeded to divided the participants into ranks and assigned two instructors to those groups:

1. Mudan Group - Carole Galligan-sensei (6 Dan), Ed Chart-sensei (5 Dan)
2. Ikkyu Group - David Green-sensei (Renshi 6 Dan), Peter Schramek-sensei (5 Dan)
3. Shodan Group - Eric Tribe-sensei (Renshi 6 Dan), Enore Gardonio-sensei (5 Dan)
4. Nidan Group - Stephen Cruise-sensei (Renshi 7 Dan), Takeshi Kimeda-sensei (Renshi 6 Dan)
5. Sandan+ Group - Kim Taylor-sensei (Renshi 7 Dan), Jim Wilson (4 Dan)

Participants worked hard on reviewing the qualifications for the rank they would be challenging and received excellent advice from their group's respective instructors.

Michael and I, while not grading this year, were asked by Ohmi-sensei to be on the floor, so we settled in behind the Sandan+ group to take in as much as we could. As the grading was only hours away, Taylor-sensei made sure to focus his advice on only the key elements for each rank.    He encouraged each person to really "show the difference between Koryu and Seitei" and "demonstrate their understanding of the timing and feeling of each kata". Interesting points to think about for our upcoming exam next December.

We broke for lunch at 12pm and the judges were selected and assigned to divisions. All together, 10 Iaido sensei performed judging duties this day:

From Mu Mon Kai, Toronto - Ohmi-, Galligan-, Gardonio-, and Schramek-sensei
From Etobicoke - Cruise-sensei
From Guelph - Taylor-sensei
From Toronto - Kimeda-sensei
From Ottawa - Green-, and Chart-sensei
From Montreal - Miller-sensei

Getting Ready


Graders from MMK and Affiilates performed admirably, earning a total of 25 passes out of 29, including two 4 Dan.

Breakdown as follows:
  • AYC -1/1 successful, 1 x nidan
  • Kenshokan - 12/13 successful.  3 x ikkyu, 5 x shodan, 4 x nidan. 
  • Mu Mon Kai  - 8/10 successful, 3 x ikkyu, 3 x shodan, 1 x nidan, 1 x yondan
  • Brock - 1/1 successful, 1 x ikkyu
  • Rochester - 3/4 successful. 1 x ikkyu, 1 x shodan, 1 x yondan.

It gives us immense pride to see Kenshokan leading the way. As a long time martial arts instructor, Wilson-sensei has been able to cultivate a strong Iaido presence in the small city of Peterborough, Ontario.  In just over two years, the level of students have been most impressive, and we've no doubt this trend will continue into the future. 

Tribe-, Kimeda-, Cruise-, Ohmi-,Taylor-, and Galligan-sensei


  1. 6 judges all with pencils on the paper, someone did something either really great, or really obvious!

  2. haha, looks like you're doodling to me =P