Continuation from Part 1, this entry describes briefly what a Taikai is about. Simply put, a Taikai generally consists of 2 segments, "Embu" and "Shinsa". It is a platform for gathering of fellow iaidokas from dojos around the world to train together and learn from each other, for showing one's progress and panel examination.
"Embu", [演武] is a time for iaidokas to showcase their iai, whereas during "Shinsa", [審査], iaidokas attempting examination are required to perform a series of defined wazas and take a paper examination. The opening ceremony was held in the cold early morning with Esaka Sensei, Hanshi, 10th Dan addressing fellow iaidokas. He expressed his thanks to everyone for taking the time and effort to prepare for and attend the event, and also offered encouragement to those who are attempting Shinsa.
This year, the "Embu" segment was held in the morning. Besides individual display of wazas, the paired kata series (Tachi Uchi no Kurai) is also featured (by demonstrators using both bokken and shinken).
By the end of Embu, it was time for a brief lunch break before continuation with Shinsa. As described in earlier posts, assessment began from commencement of Reiho, continues through throughout the wazas, before ending with Reiho.
Good iai is not about powering through a waza. Rather, good iai should be relaxed and flow naturally from within. Therefore, smoothness, precision, finesse and exact application of force (for advanced levels) are some of the traits the panel look out for in Shinsa and Embu.
This year, we are happy to announce that many of the Singapore members received commendations for good iai and all of the Singapore members attending Shinsa passed successfully.
Following the conclusion of the Taikai, fellow iaidokas helped one another in cleaning up the place and adjourned to a nearby restaurant for celebration party. Thereafter, the Singapore team continued with training for the next few days... but more on that later. We hope this has been an entertaining and insightful read. Till then, take care!