Enbu in Tokyo

Last Saturday (11/04/2015) Taisha-ryu took part in the 33rd annual Asakusa Taikai enbu in Tokyo.

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Part of the Asakusa Shrine complex

The event was held at a sports/budo centre not far from the Asakusa Shrine. From the Yatsushiro dojo came: Yamamoto-sensei, Tazoe-sensei, Uehara-sensei, Sato-shihandai and Tsunoda-san and from the Tokyo keikokai (study group) were Nanoka-san, Kawai-san and Kato-san.

Posted by David -36号

The Kimura – Swordsmiths in Yatsushiro

image The Kimura family have been making swords for ten generations. Prior to the Meiji Restoration they were the swordsmiths for the Sagara Han of Hitoyoshi and thus have a long connection with the Taisha-ryu – an association that continues to this day with Yamamoto-sensei and other members using shinken made by the Kimura family. Yamamoto-sensei took me to meet them at their workshop in the far south of Yatsushiro Prefecture.

Click on photos to enlarge

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Training with the Hizenhyohotaisharyu keikokai ( Taisha-ryu Saga study group)

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When I first had the chance to see and practice with the Taisha-ryu in Yatsushiro in October 2012 there were less than twenty members. In April 2014, when I was accepted as a member I became member 36. There are now over sixty of us, most of whom are members of one of the three keikokai (study groups) in Japan. In the three keikokai outside Japan, there are just the two of us in Sydney, four in Italy and a few in Hong Kong.

Yamamoto-sensei and the shihandai regularly visit the three keikokai in Japan. I was fortunate enough to be invited to come with Yamamoto-sensei and Uehara-sensei to the Saga keikokai while I was in Yatsushiro two weeks ago. It was most interesting for a number of reasons – firstly, they have a unique dojo located in a theatre in a Ninja theme park called the Hizen Yumekaido, a space they can use because a few of them work there and also because both the parks owner and the local government support the study of Taisha-ryu because it was the style used by the Saga samurai in the Tokugawa period (1603-1868) and they are keen to see the revival of its practice in the area.

The training shown in the photos was held the Friday before last and was divided into two parts – from 3:00- 6:00pm was Tankeshuchuutanren or intensive training with just a few members, and then from 7:00-9:00pm was the Teireikeiko or regular practice. For this we were privileged to have Sato-shihandai join to help teach after having driven over four hours from Kagoshima to attend the evening two-hour session.

I was very surprised to see how many members they have in Saga and was most impressed with their seriousness and enthusiasm. Hopefully we can create a similar situation in Australia.

Click on photos to enlarge,

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Spring Grading part 5

After the tests- hanami party.

Click on photos to enlarge.

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Spring grading – part 4

The verdicts. Taisha-ryu gradings happen twice a year; one in Spring and the other in Autumn. In the two previous posts Tsunoda-san and Hashiguchi-kun demonstrated their ability in front the two shihan and the four shihandai who then confer with each other before each giving their opinions to the two in front of the other members of the dojo who were present.

The opinions and criticism on not only technique and skill but appearance, manners and demeanour are very strong and to the point.

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Spring Grading – part 3

Up next was Hashiguchi-kun performing kata using a kodachi (short sword) with Gotan-shihandai who “attacked” using the Taisha-ryu bokken.

Posted by David 36号