That was: Wow!
The autumn seminar of the Hokushin Ittô-ryû Hyôhô was held from October 13th – 18th 2015 in the Chiba-Dôjô Munich. As always, the 6th Sôke Ôtsuka Yôichirô Masanori undertook the long journey from Japan to teach us together with Saikô-Shihan Ôtsuka Ryûnosuke Masatomo (Menkyo-Kaiden). Again, it was an outstanding and hard seminar which everyone enjoyed!
This time we had participants attending from six countries: Germany, Japan, Switzerland, Portugal, Hungary and the US.
Quite exceptional is the duration of one week with daily training. And with a private dôjô, you don’t have to take care about closing hours of public gyms and therefore the training often extends into late evening (of course with a lot of food and drinks 🙂 ). Such flexibility is very beneficial to the success of training.
Certainly, not everyone can always take off a whole week. But such a long seminar allows all within their limits to profit from the knowledge of Ôtsuka-sôke and Ôtsuka-sensei.
After Soji (cleaning the dôjô floor) each training day started with very intensive Ashiwaza-geiko. Footwork is a fundamental part and it doesn’t come from nothing. This is one of the first and most important teachings of the Hokushin Ittô-ryû Hyôhô.
Here, many participants experienced for the first time a special teaching method of the Hokushin Ittô-ryû: Mamemaki-geiko!
A few packs of dried soy beans are strewn about the dôjô floor in order to learn correct suri-ashi (the sliding footwork). If it’s done properly the small, hard beans will be pushed out by the sliding action and there are no problems (no matter how quick you move). If someone tries to fiddle a bit and lifts the ball of the feet… that will be a painful notice to yourself!
This is considered a marvellous training, especially for beginners!
After that, Suburi training was on the plan for about half an hour in all its glory. Sometimes still with the soy beans on the floor… in order to fit in your footwork into Suburi. And for this, the beans are a tremendous help!
This was followed with extended kumitachi practice for the main (five) kata of the school: the Omote Gogyô no kata. All mokuroku holders acted as uchitachi for the others and had as well the important task to teach the kata correctly. Also the Kodachi Omote Gogyô no kata were trained.
Gogyô no kata practice was also possible with shinken. Of course, only people with very good sword handling skills are allowed to train this. It is very interesting to see how much additional pressure and tension is build up in contrast to the use of Bokuto or Habiki. This tension does not affect the two practitioners only. The whole room is taken by it!
It is very important in our school to lead the students correctly to the practice of gekiken (free-sparring with bogu and shinai). Certain teaching methods exist for this.
First and foremost, the Gogyô no kata are practiced in bogu with full contact over and over again. The next step is the transition to shiai-geiko. Usually, people fight seven shiai before switching partners. This is not about collecting points or who is “better”. Each strike has to be acknowledged whereupon both pull back shortly to start over again. This is only to improve your technique and use what was learned in kata-geiko in a free environment.
Later in the week we also had the chance to try out fights like one vs. two, three vs. three or fights against different weapons (for example Naginata).
Every day battôjutsu was trained as well. First the basic kata from the Shoden set and later for everyone the advanced Chuden-kata.
For participants using shinken there was an advanced training method for improving Nukitsuke and Noto: the so-called Te-Saya Geiko. You just substitute the saya with your left hand which is then shaped to a koiguchi and practice… Bad technique (e.g. weak sayabiki) will become manifest immediately. It was encouraging to see that all who tried it hadn’t had any problems with it!
After the normal daily practice was finished in the early evening there was special training for the mokuroku holder for a few hours. Here, advanced teaching content such as Ura techniques etc. where transmitted. For obvious reasons I cannot go into details here.
Of course, every evening we all got together (in the dôjô or in a restaurant) for delicious food and drinks and relax. If that happened in the dôjô, people also took out bokuto or shinai from the racks and checked on certain points from the days practice. Sôke and Sensei were also generous with advice and assistance!
It was great to see how a pleasant comradeship developed in the course of the week. All got together daily for hard training, eating, drinking and talking and many could imagine how a ryûha should feel. Exactly like this!
This is just not possible with a usual weekend seminar.
Again a big thank you to Sôke Ôtsuka Yôichirô Masanori and Saikô-Shihan Ôtsuka Ryûnosuke Masatomo for a thrilling and highly educational seminar!
Congratulations to all who passed their Kirigami or Hatsumokuroku exam!