On the weekend, I traveled to Peterborough, Ontario for the annual koryu iaido seminar. I always come back from seminar with some helpful corrections and some less relevant ones.
The thing about seminar that is different than my dojo or the grading floor is that it is packed with people.
There is a kata that we do where I normally cover a large distance across the floor because I assume a kendo like stance and use okuri-ashi. If I did that in seminar, I'd run into the person in front of me.
I often sacrifice technique at seminar in favour of paying attention to my surroundings. Several people near me were obviously oblivious to those around them.
On this particular kata, it was not the instructors offering corrections, but people near my own level. This actually drives me crazy. Instructors can usually understand immediately whether you're doing something wrong or adjusting to your surroundings.
Now, I did receive some helpful corrections such as that I'm not putting my hands back far enough during jodan and my metsuke needs improvement as sometimes I'm looking at the target rather than the opponent's eyes. I also learned a better timing for noto and some of the katas.
I realize to those who don't follow my martial art, I just used a bunch of words you don't understand, so here's a breakdown:
Koryu - This is any kata that isn't from our grading set, though as we level we are expected to include some koryu in our grading. I must include one koryu kata when I challenge Nidan grading in a month and they chose the other four kata from the standard grading set.
Iaido - This is the martial art I do. It is pronounced "eee-eye-doh".
Kendo - This is another sword art commonly practiced by iaido practitioners. It is a sport and competition based sword art.
Okuri-ashi - This is a particular step that involves your feet staying in a right front, left back pattern as you move. Basically, you pretend the back is attached to the front by an invisible rubber band. Now, in kendo they do it a little different. The front foot moves first if going forwards and the back moves first when going backwards. I have not mastered this yet.
Jodan - When the sword is almost vertical above my head, the end of its handle should be vertically level with my forehead.
Metsuke - The gaze. In my art we have no physical opponent and have to convince you there is one in front of us by having our sword in the right place and by looking at the right place. We are telling a story.
I really enjoyed the weekend and the grading preparation was helpful. I had a lot of fun playing board games with a friend and her mom. There was also tasty Pho. Libations were thoroughly enjoyed after the seminar.
I made my first book sale and I raffled off a copy of one to help pay for the seminar. Signing books feels strange. I'll just have to get used to it ;)
Tonight, I'm off to trick-or-treat with my toddler buddy and his family. I hope everyone has a fun and safe Hallowe'en!