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Nov 2017 Japan Taikai (Part 1)

Updated: Feb 29, 2020

This series of photo journal hopes to provide insights to what overseas iaido practice, Taikai & Shinsa comprises of and to a lesser extent, the light-hearted moments outside of practice (in italics).

Since 2015, our members have been making overseas trips for practice (Keiko) and grading (Shinsa). This year is no different.

Preparations began nearly one year in advance, with planning covering admin matters, assessment of members' progress, planned keiko sessions and discussions with the various senseis. This year's committee comprises of Rei, Warren (Itinerary planners), Valeth (Photo journal), Noi (Travel planner), Mr. Law (Treasurer and licence applications) led by Michael (Dojo Head, "Kancho").

The team set off in the wee-hours of 20 Nov (2 members, Xinrong & Serene, came to see the team off.) Arriving in late afternoon, the team began training in earnest at Kizarasu Genshinkan (led by Kobara Sensei) from 21 to 22 Nov, before the Taikai on the 23th. We had the opportunity to train with fellow iaidoka from Taiwan, U.S. and South Africa at Kizarasu Genshinkan. Besides training in a beautiful dojo, we were also able to view up close the beauty of antique koshirae on Sensei's shinken.

The team received valuable pointers on kihon and fine-tuning of techniques from Kobara Sensei over the 2 days of training at Genshinkan.

Team @ Kisarazu Genshinkan Dojo entrance. (L to R: Noi, Rei. Warren, Tommy, Valrth, Mr. Law)

At the end of the training on the 21th, all iaidokas were invited over to a sumptuous dinner prepared by Kobara Sensei's wife and her friends. Members spent time catching up with one another and new friendships were made over good food and good company.

Thereafter, the team continued with training at the Shibuya Dojo on the 24th, followed by Kita-Matsudo Dojo on 25 & 26th Nov, and lastly, a day of R&R before returning home.

"Shinsa", しんさ, [審査] lit. means an examination of one's work. It is a formal procedure of assessment of one's work by a panel. Why "work", not "skills", not "performance"? While the panel observes one's performance during the Shinsa, it is the work one has put in to improving one's iai (since last practice) that they are looking at against the grading criteria. Therefore, details from practice and etiquette (Reiho) are all factored in to varying degrees by the panel. Next-up: Taikai and Shinsa.

We hope this entry has provided an insightful and entertaining read. Stay tuned for our follow-up photo journals.

Readers interested to find out more regarding iaido can drop us a message or drop by to observe during our practice sessions. See you!


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