On Saturday, June 12, Yushinkan dojo, the New York Takumakai branch, had its 10th anniversary. A big embu (demonstration) was held at the Mark Morris Dance Center in Brooklyn, NY. Several prominent Takumakai members from Osaka were demonstrating, including Kiyohiro Kobayashi (8. dan), Takeshi Kawabe (8. dan), and Hideo Annoki (6. dan). From Yushinkan dojo all the teachers – Rodrigo Kong, Kenneth Freeman, Noah Landow and Chris Owyoung – and many students were demonstrating. From Fudoshin dojo Finland four persons were attending and demonstrating: Jyrki Rytilä, Jyri Lamminmäki, Terho Korhonen and myself.
The embu was the first public display of Takumakai-style Daitoryu in the US, and the event was sold out. Several fine demonstrations were seen, and the audience seemed impressed, even frightened during some of the demos.
We were the first ones to demonstrate. I was lucky to be one performing first of all, so I didn’t have much time to get nervous. Our part went quite nicely, although I think the audience was still orientating on what this really is about.
After us the Yushinkan members demonstrated vigorously and with great enthusiasm.
Some of the highlights of japanese group’s demonstration were kasadori (techniques while holding an umbrella) by japanese lady whose name unfortunately slipped me, Miki-sensei ‘s (5. dan) energetic performance, and of course Takumakai head teacher Kawabe shihan’s part. He had several ukes, but did – perhaps as a compliment to the host – particularily hard technique on Rodrigo Kong, who received it very well and without injuries. A nice distraction from the unarmed performances was Annoki sensei’s iaido demonstration, which even included a kaishaku (execution) demostration.
After the show was over a big party was held (of course). We had very good time once again and made many new friends.
The next day, Kobayashi and Annoki senseis gave a special class. Kobayashi sensei was concentrating, as usual, on doing basic technique effectively. He managed onc e again to bring a new aspects to ippondori and kotegaeshi, techniques of which I thought I had seen everything already. Annoki sensei taught fundamental aikiwaza. I specially remember his advice to move the hand and the knee together in aikinage, and to move in parallel, not turning away from the uke.
After the anniversary weekend was over, Kawabe sensei held a seminar from Monday to Friday. Usually after the seminar most of what has been taught vanishes from my mind, but I hope they stay somewhere in the unconcious. What I do remember is that sensei talked about correct movement with steady center and how this attitude extends also to the etiquette, such as bowing. He also talked about the use of mind and ki energy and showed some basic exercises to develop it. The movement from the hips with a steady center seems to extend somehow to the mental control of the opponent as well.
On Friday a number of kyu graduations were made. Yushinkan dojo appears to have quite a stable base of students on different levels, which is good. In the evening we had a sayonara party at Kenneth’s home.The place was cosy and the servings abundant. All in all, the people at Yushinkan dojo are very friendly and sincere. We were taken good care of.
It was nice to see people coming from other parts of US – Ohio, Arizona and Tennessee – to attend the seminar. Let’s hope Daitoryu can spread also to these places one day. What I particularily liked in the seminar was that everybody was training in good spirit, helping each other to learn and having fun.
We had some time to see the city, but that was way too little. The guidebooks did not lie: New York is really special. Manhattan of course is impressive, but also Brooklyn was a very interesting area. All the different kinds of people walking the street make an endless show. I made a promise to myself to return one day.
11.-19. 6. 2010