Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Enter the Kaicho, yet again.

Toby Threadgill.
Takamura Ha Shindo Yoshin Ryu.

TSYR Kaicho, Toby Threadgill was back in NZ for about 6 days. He arrived on a Thursday and had a day's rest before we started our closed seminar on Friday.

Friday training started with kuzushi no kata. These are a set of verbally transitted kata that teach important balance breaking principles. Sensei decided to take it up 'a notch' and made them more challenging as we refined them and performed them with a higher level of connection and alertness.
After lunch we practised battojutsu (sword drawing). This is always challenging and I had an argument with my sword. It was refusing to do as it was told resulting in jerky movements and ugly cuts. I find this a demanding practice that requires precision and patience. Both of which I lack at times.

Saturday training started with chuden hand escapes which are done from idori (kneeling). I find these kata fascinating. Lots of good internal principles can be learned and applied in these kata. Lots of tips about moving tension around the body and correct use of the hara to develop power.
After lunch was batto torikaeshi which is how to protect yourself against someone attempting to take your sword. Again, sensei refined what we were doing and added another layer. He was teaching us how to make our technique softer and lighter. This of course makes it more powerful in the long term. Many of these techniques make the uchitachi believe he has control of the sword but he never does. He does not realise this until he finds himself in a compromised position and often with the blade of the sword coming at him! We looked into mental disruption as well by using our swords instead of bokken to get a better understanding of the dynamics between ken and saya. Something that cannot be achieved with bokken alone.
Sensei showed some henka. I had the privilege to be on the end of one of these versions and it was exciting!

Saturday night was the official social gathering where we go to a restaurant and eat and be merry. One of our members always brings a good supply of sake.

Sunday was an open seminar in Auckland. I did not attend this but it was very positive by all accounts.

Then sensei was back at the Hamilton dojo for the TSYR members to work through their training Monday Tuesday and Wednesday. I had a day with my two daughters on Monday but was able to get to the morning sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Tuesday morning focused on the kumitanto. I enjoyed these very much and once again Sensei Threadgill was in top form as he showed us how to refine these movements and I felt, once more just how powerful his connected strikes can be. For the first time in my life I had both my feet lifted from the ground as I was struck. I have witnessed such feets on video and often think the person receiving the strike is taking a fall. But to actually have my own centre taken so strongly was amazing.

Wednesday morning saw us take a look at the tanto disarms. This is a set of kata I struggle with to some degree. Again Sensei was on hand to make corrections and also took us through some sensitivity drills to try and get us to make our techniques lighter.

Its always great to see those who travel to Hamilton to train with us as well. It is quite a commitment to make every seminar and it is a credit to those members.

It was a great experience and I learned many things. I now have plenty to think about in the coming months before Sensei Threadgill's next visit in 2015.

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