Jacques Muller Sensei (7th Dan Kendo) was giving a Kendo seminar at Shin Nakada dojo. WaShinKan took care of parts of the organization and we are happy to conclude yet another successful and great seminar.
As a practitioner of Kendo from the Shodokan Dojo in Japan, the seminars are always interesting and give new insights to both experienced and beginning kendoka. The focus on the seminar we had this time were on the exchange of energy between 2 practitioners. Both in Kiai, Seme and in the ability to read each other’s breathing.
On Friday Ivo, John and Alphons went to pick Muller Sensei, as well as one of his students (Steve Blanchet), up from Schiphol International Airport in Amsterdam. Going by car to the airport, one car wouldn’t fit all the people and the Bogu. Alphons drove back home, where Muller Sensei, Ivo, John and Steve went to take a look around in the city of Leiden. After some sightseeing, some drinks and a bit of food we went to the car and drove off in the direction of the Dojo.
Arriving there about 20 minutes before practice, we were one of the first at the dojo. Giving us the opportunity to chat a little bit while changing, we walked into the dojo for the line up. We started at 19:00 for our first keiko session with the sensei. Everybody immediately felt the change in the atmosphere when Sensei explained stuff about a correct body posture during Kendo. The focus of this first session was truly on how to be composed and strong in Kendo, while trying to attack not blindly, but feel the emotions of your opponent.
With this reasonable large sized group we had on this Friday evening practice, we all enjoyed a dinner/supper in the hall with “bring your own food and drinks”.
On Saturday, the second and longest day of the Seminar, we started at about 10:00 with a long session of kata practice. The kata we were practicing are called the ‘bokuto ni yoru kendo kihon-waza keiko-ho’ or in short kihon Kata. Muller Sensei did a very good explanation with Ivo about the intensity and timing, as well as the rhythm. With people practicing from all over the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and France, it was a interesting way to view all the different interpretations of Kata and its energy. Changing from bokken to shinai! Instead of immediately putting on the Bogu, Muller Sensei and Ivo demonstrated a movement with one shinai in-between of each other. Neither of the 2 kendoka hold the shinai, but by pressure of the two being in sync with each other. Being able to walk through the hall back and forth, they showed seme from the waist instead of blindly moving forward. Everybody practiced this after the demonstration, and most of the people got the hang of reading each other’s body language during Kendo pretty fast. After this we tried reading one another in a session without the shinai in-between, but just try to maintain issoku ito no maai constantly. A harder exercise than it looks, but good to practice either way!
After a short lunch period/nap time, we started with our last session, the keiko in Bogu part. We had a nice warming up together, focussing on a big and strong movement, including all the parts from shoulder to te-no-uchi, movement from the wrist. Again, with a strong focus on the energy between each other and how to work with that, we started basic kihon movements with hitting straight men. Muller Sensei and Ivo demonstrated correct posture and how to be a correct motodachi and we could go on again with the next session. We kept on focusing throughout all the keiko on the basics of energy exchange between each other, but somehow Karin her kote got messed up on the inside, which resulted in a rather painful injury to the wrist and thumb. The final keiko of this day was concluded with a demonstration of Ivo vs Frank, Steve vs Andreas and Claire vs Susa. Then line up and asking some questions about what and how everybody could improve. And of course giving the Sensei the presents!
After this it was of course time to take a group picture, get dressed, fix the hairs for the girls and move on for the sayonara party to the restaurant. Sushi time! And later at night some wine and snacks at Zita’s place.
Sunday morning we arrived at 09:30 and started at 10:00 and only had a short keiko session until 12:00. Although it was a short practice, we started off good. We again had a nice warming up, but since the group was a bit smaller (Saturday is always the most crowded day) we moved on pretty soon to some fun exercises. Muller Sensei had us all lining up in a 2 rows, from where the first person had to hit everybody’s shinai at men hight. Then the next person would move forward, turn around and then start the same routine. He decided to put some fun in the exercise making the team who was slowest to have each person go once. The losing group had to squad down and do men movements while doing some kind of frog jump all trough the length of the dojo! Good fun! After we finished with playing games like this, everybody was motivated and we closed this session and the seminar with it with some mawari-geiko.
After we closed the seminar we of course thanked the Sensei for the seminar and we all went back home. The 3 days passed really fast, but that are the characteristics of a successful and great seminar!