This year’s Taiwan Shinsa was held from 12-17 Jan, with a few days set aside for group training. Because of work, I arrived slightly later than the rest of the Singapore team with my wife.
The weather was unexpectedly colder than usual and one of our members fell sick shortly after arrival. Thankfully, with timely intervention of Hou Sensei, he managed to recover in time for the rest of the training, grading and Enbu.
Some of the team also used this opportunity to order custom tailored Gi, Hakama and Montsuki from Lin Sensei. As usual, we were spoilt for choices by the range of available materials to choose from. =) Many were pleasantly surprised at how fast the orders were able to be delivered before the end of the Shinsa. The team was also able to receive guidance from Lin Sensei on some of the wazas and principles behind them.
Before the training session, Kobara Sensei warmly addressed everyone and hoped everyone would have an enjoyable training experience. He also shared that the name for Singapore Dojo is ready and Esaka Seigen Sensei would very much like to unveil this at the next meeting with Singapore Dojo Head, Michael. We look forward to the moment of unveiling =).
The number of training sessions may seem lesser than 2 years ago, however, the trainings are much more intense. Under the careful guidance of Matsumoto Sensei and Kaburaki Sensei, the team joined the Taiwan members in working on the techniques for hours, stopping only at allocated break times for lunch and chitchat. We were able to use whatever training time available to iron out the kinks and reaffirm our understanding in the wazas. I have to admit I was literally drained and sweating despite the cold weather at the end of each training session.
Grading and Enbu came and passed - a short fleeting moment compared to the time each one spent in practice. Underneath the crisp cuts and smooth transitions, what are unseen are the challenges each individual had to overcome in their everyday practice. And I think this is the important part that needs to be celebrated too. While Senseis can teach, students need to put in effort to listen and internalise. Put in everyday commitments and one can see just how uphill a task this is. In a sense, the training before grading, and all other practice sessions, are a mini grading in itself – Senseis observe and tailor training accordingly. It is heartening to know everyone did well for grading and Enbu and improved their understanding in Iai.
There are many paths for people from all walks of life and Iaido is one of such path. Simply put, it exists as a path for people but at the same time, the Iaido practioners are needed to continue passing Iai down for generations to come. As Esaka Sensei says, “Iaido is a path where you never reach your final destination. That’s what makes it interesting.”
We’d like to thank the Senseis for their time and patience in teaching us and also the Taiwan Dojo for organising the Shinsa and hosting us. We also like to thank Noi, our group leader for her care and leadership for this year’s Shinsa.