Following lunch, we all gathered once again at the front of the gym and made a wide circle around Aoki sensei for instruction on Seitei. Various points from the manual were raised, but 4 key points were especially emphasized throughout the demonstration.
The following quotes from Aoki sensei are essential for Iaidoka at all levels to remember.
1. Central Axis
- Rough translation implies your axis or center => i.e. the connection to the ground = main foot
- "To generate the proper force and energy, you must have ki-ken-tai-ichi. Without focus on your axis, everything collapses."
- "Each rank is responsible to show the proper focus and attention at their level."
- "Movement comes from your ki"
- "Although you must have kiseme and strong energy, you must also win through proper use of the sword"
- "Proper tenouchi and hasuji is important - If either is not correct, it's not Iai anymore; it's just dance."
- "It's important to constantly have focus on your left hand, don't let it just play"
- "The opponent appears in how you do keiko; which comes from your inner self."
- "You must question how you really think about your Iai. If you just show form and movement, then it means nothing"
- Roughly translated as "Independently Reason, Independent Journey"
- While your Sensei is there to guide you along the path, how far you are able to go is completely up to you.
4. Difference between Koryu and Seitei
- "If you don't understand the meaning of your Koryu, then it's not worth doing."
- "The key differences are in how you move your body - You must understand the difference by using your mind."
- "If you really understand the Shoden set, then you should also understand Seitei. So always try to practice Shoden and Seitei together."
- "Unless a student really understands Shoden, they should not be taught the Okuden sets.
This last point is echoed in Hatakenaka sensei's classes where the majority of her students (even the lowest ranks) in each class will work on Shoden (Omori-ryu in the MJER line) before starting their Seitei practice.
It really worked out well to be able to participate in this seminar before starting our daily training at Hatakenaka sensei's dojo and free practice times around Shinjuku. It gave us the right perspective and motivation to start from the basics and really look within to focus on our weaknesses.
I hope all readers of these notes were also able to find some useful tidbits to continue to grow as Iaidoka.