The Japanese community in Ottawa is quite active though, with the JET Alumni Association hosting an annual summer festival, presenting food, culture, and art. The martial arts are seeing positive signs of growth, and along with the Language and Ikebana classes found in the core of the city, are really helping to promote Japanese culture. Lead by the Takahashi and Tateyama dojos, students looking to get into the world of Budo can be guaranteed an experienced base of instruction.
This year, organizers of the Ottawa Seminar had graciously moved their spot back a month to allow for the Peterborough Koryu Seminar, and modified the format by combining Kendo and Iaido. This happened to be a perfect fit for the visiting Sensei, who between them, have over 50 years of experience in both sword arts:
- Goyo Ohmi-Sensei (Iaido Renshi 7 Dan, Kendo Renshi 6 Dan)
- Stephen Cruise-Sensei (Iaido Renshi 7 Dan, Kendo 5 Dan)
|Tateyama Kendo/Iaido/Jodo Club|
Saturday, November 3 @ Takahashi Dojo
Located just west of China town, the dojo sits on the corner of a cozy residential neighbourhood surrounded by a few local eateries. With the Iaido session starting at 3pm, Hanna and I were able to have breakfast with her parents before meeting up with a couple of friends for lunch at the "Art is in Bakery". Small restaurants like this one, found in an industrial area not far from the dojo, are an excellent example of hidden gems throughout this city. Based out of a "literal" warehouse space, the Canadian-born and raised chef had perfected his trade in New York City, France, and Switzerland, before returning to serve amazing sandwiches, flatbreads, and a treasure trove of baked goods. Having thoroughly gorged ourselves on sandwiches, tarts, and coffee, followed by a quick visit to another local shop, Isobel's Cupcake for second dessert, we definitely had enough energy for an afternoon of intense Iaido practice.
We arrived a little early, just as the first session was winding down and the Sensei's were going off for some refreshments. Our stomachs were pretty full already, and not wanting to risk falling asleep by sitting around, we proceeded downstairs to the unoccupied tatami room for some pre-seminar keiko. The room was big enough for us to share with our good friend from Nova Scotia, Karen, but we definitely had to watch the pipes running across the ceiling. Other participants started trickling in over the next half hour, and it wasn't long before the Iaido session was ready to begin.
A) 1 Dan - Big technique, Clear movements
B) 2 and 3 Dan - Show understanding and feeling, Seme
C) 4 Dan - Show experience, Kihaku and Kigurai
The first hour went by very quickly as we transitioned to demonstrations from anyone who wanted to "volunteer", with some slight nudging from Ohmi-Sensei: =P
Demo 2 - Seminar organizers: Chris (4 Dan), Stan (2 Dan - challenging 3 Dan next month)
The building was very pleasantly heated, unlike last year's community centre, with the space split between a wood floor-room lined with mirrors (9:30-11) and a padded-floor room with windows along one side (11-12:30).
Today's teaching was on following proper form, posture, and doing it by the book, as past tendencies and lack of focus had lead to bad habits. It was good to be reminded of the fundamental requirements that are laid out by the All Japan Kendo Federation, and especially beneficial with a grading coming up in less than a months time.
The session wrapped up with a demonstration from Cruise-Sensei doing two koryu + five seitei, then Hayanuki. We don't often get to see MSR Koryu, so it was nice to have the opportunity to observe the difference in movement, scenario, and emphasis. The longer sword and sharp noto made for quite an impressive display. As the Kendo students began to arrive after lunch, we bade our farewells and prepared ourselves for another five hour drive back to Toronto.