The moment has come; a significant milestone in our Club's young, but very eventful history. We were to receive the grace and acknowledgment by the main body of our iaido lineage, the Seito Seiryu Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu Iaido Kokusai Renmei. On a breezy Friday evening by the sea, we awaited to greet our guest of honour, Mochizai Shuichi Sensei (8 dan) for dinner by one of our proudest national pastimes: Seafood. Most of us at the dinner table had already met Mochizai Sensei, so conversations were more relaxed and casual. We introduced our various foods to Mochizai Sensei, including our famed chilli crab, to which he fondly commented that no matter the culture, once people started eating shellfish like crabs or lobsters, everyone at the dinner table goes silent.
The next day, everyone was ready and excited for the seminar to commence proper. Mochizai Sensei went through the very basics, as he is well known to do, and the whole morning was spent on Mae and Migi. What was different this time was Mochizai Sensei was also demonstrating the combative side of Iai - this he demonstrated with powerful and precise cuts, rather than the usual obsession over form and technique, which were certainly important, and in my opinion, had we not shown some level of proper form and technique, I doubt he would be showing this at all. He also go into how each wazas is designed for a particular scenario and yet how each wazas complements one another.
For the supposed lack of intense physical strain, Iaido classes, at least under masters like Mochizai Sensei, are incredibly exhaustive on concentration. While it certainly depends on the individual practitioner, it seems a proof of concept when everyone gave a big sigh of relief when it was time for lunch. Mochizai Sensei seemed not the least bit tired from it though, which continues to evoke knowing chuckles from many members.
Technique-wise, much was in order for re-working. Not so much because what we were practicing was inherently wrong, but it was a leveling up of techniques instead; tweaks to the angle of the draw, shifts in balance to improve the resistance from an enemy's attack, among other things. Mochizai Sensei even went so far as to humour us with modifications of existing techniques, showing that Iaido was not a dead art of mindless movements, but could be easily modified to respond to different threats, with different timings, under different intents.
During the break, the committee members got together with Mochizai Sensei and Taichi-san (who so kindly joined us on the second day to assist with both teaching and translating) to discuss the future of the Club. We were honoured to hear that Esaka Sensei had approved our Club to be upgraded to a Certified Dojo. One with ties to Taichi-san's dojo in Indonesia. Esaka Sensei himself had passed onto us a present as a Dojo: a shrine tablet from the Hayashizaki Iai shrine itself.
At the end of it all, Mochizai Sensei was happy to see everyone working hard. We were indeed very fortunate to receive his instructions and look forward to building stronger ties with him, Taichi-san and the Indonesian Iaido Dojo, and the Organization lead by Esaka Sensei.
Last but not least, special thanks go to the following: Andrej Diamanstein Sensei and Hiro Inoue Sensei; for their tireless support and contributions to our Dojo from the very beginning, Wee Kheng-li; who has been instrumental in spreading his knowledge of iai to our members, as well as brokering ties with many dojos globally in support of ours, Michael Koh; for heading our club and steering it towards achieving dojo status, The committee of Eishin Ryu Iaido Singapore; for their continuous support and instructions, Renata Liew for her help in translating Mochizai Sensei’s words on the first day of the Seminar, and finally Peter Chua; for initiating the founding of the club, in what has now become a Certified Dojo of the Seito Seiryu Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu Iaido Kokusai Renmei.
11 April, 2014