Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Martial Arts

Originally uploaded by wjwmorrow.
On one of my earlier postings I said I'd write about my training in iaido. For the uninitiated, iaido is a Japanese martial art based focused on sword drawing. However before I get to this I should say a few words about my relationship with the martial arts in general. As an undergraduate in the fair city of Cardiff, Wales, I was enticed into practicing judo and karate by my landlord, Colin Jenkins (where are you now Colin?). After a couple of years fairly avid training I gained a green belt in judo and a brown belt in shotokan karate. However I found both of these disciplines lacking an indefinable 'something". Somehow they were too physical and centered around competition. More martial sports than arts.

Then at some point I attended an aikido demonstration and immediately thought that this was for me although I was certainly terrified of the gymnastic nature of the breakfalls. Aikido, although complex, seemed more evolved technically and philosophically than either judo or karate. Furthermore I was intrigued by the sword-derived movements as well as the use of bokken (wooden practice swords).

Sadly it was another 10 years before I began aikido practice in earnest. I started with Morita Sensei in 1985 when working in San Francisco. Morita taught Yoshinkai style aikido which is a quite rigid but standardised hard style. In 1987 I moved to San Diego and was fortunate to be able to train with Chiba Sensei for nearly five years. I also studied iaido for the last two years I was with Chiba. I found the iaido fascinating and it improved by aikido no end.

I then moved back to the UK and practice took a backseat. There are some excellent aikido practioners in England including some of Chiba Sensei's former students -notably Dee Chen at the London Shinmeikan. But getting through London in the rush hour was always a deterrent and my martial arts practice lapsed.

Now, nearly a decade later I have found a great dojo in here in Seattle that teaches iaido, or more correctly battojutsu, which is a more practical form of swordsmanship and as well as the traditional kata involves cutting rolled straw targets. Aikido is also taught although this is not the main focus of the organisation. The dojo is known as Ishi Yama Ryu (Stone Mountain School) and it has one of the most beautiful practice halls I have ever seen. I'm hoping that I will have a long association and happy association with Ishi Yama and its chief instructor Russell McCartney Sensei is highly likeable, technically accomplished and appears a very sincere person. So all going well my training is set fair for the forseeable future and after years stuck at 1st kyu (brown belt) rank I'm hoping to obtain at least the elusive shodan (black belt) before too long.

So now I've introduced the topic, I'll make regular posts in future...


1 comment:

Darth Daddy said...

Hey...Im hanging in here.....where's all the Iaido posts?