Got something nasty to say but can't quite find the right words? Burn it!
Photos and stuff from the 5th Annual Suimokai Mugai-ryu Festival and Competition are up!
Kanai-sensei asked me to write up a blurb about the iai weekend, so I did. Then Hiroko fixed my ridiculous Japanese, I translated it into English (how wierd is that, translating your own writing back into your own native language?) and the result is a rambling masterpiece. The big unintelligible mess on the first half of the page is Japanese, in case you thought your browser was hosed.
I hate mosquitoes, but they love me. So I got The Savanna Canopy Net and now I sleep like jungle royalty.
Couple of new photos of Iai practice up at the student's site.
For those who can't read Japanese, go directly to this frame. The caption next to the freaky white guy reads: "This is ren, who took first in the 3kyu division. He's not a student, but he often comes to practice and busts his ass just like one."
To make a long story short: I won! To make a long story long: The tournament started with some demonstrations by Shiokawa Gosoke, Tanaka-sensei, Naganuma-sensei, Ando-sensei, and others. Takana-sensei did some powerful tameshigiri and Naganuma-sensei did some as well, including an incredible okuden ("secret" or super-advanced) technique: seated with the sword lying to his right, with his right hand he smacks the saya so that it goes skittering behind him, leaving the unsheathed sword where it is, and then in the same movement grabs the sword (blade still pointing back) and does a rising right-to-left diagonal cut. It was so fast I don't think I got a good picture, but we'll see when I get the film developed. I guess the idea behind that move is that even in the least agressive (most defenseless) posture, with the sword sheathed and resting on your right, it's still possible to defend yourself. Sword sheathed and resting on your left is more agressive and of course wearing the sword in the belt is the most agressive and defensible position.
As for the tournament, I started in the E block of the lowest (3kyu) division. I had 4 wins to advance to the semi-finals, which where held in the afternoon. But first, the group competition! The point here was to make the judges laugh. We did ok with party streamers and bunny ears, but some of the teams really went the extra kilometer: 5 guys in bathing suits, pool caps, and goggles doing synchronized sword, several remakes of old samurai dramas complete with bad jokes, a troop of monkeys, and general insanity. After embarassing ourselves thoroughly (and losing, which was a good thing since we were only prepared for 3 rounds), I had the semi-final and then the final. I choked a bit during the final: in the second kata I did, called sui-getsu, you draw the sword back horizontally and leave the tip still in the saya (sheath) while sliding back with the right foot to avoid a downward cut, and then turning the hips back to the left and driving the sword horizontally straight into your oponent's abdomen. The worst thing to do is pull back the sword too much so that the tip comes out of the saya and drops; it's key to keep the sword on the same horizontal plane the whole time. But instead I didn't pull enough and almost got my sword caught not quite unsheathed enough. Luckily I am the master of gomakasu (tough to translate, but something like "getting away with" or "making do") and just did a slow draw until the sword cleared, and made sure the forward thrust was flat, straight, and deep. I guess it worked since I won in a 2-1 final judging. And my prize? A case of bananas! Hiroko was so proud. I introduced Kanai-sensei to Hiroko in the hopes that she could help convince Hiroko that I NEED to buy a real sword soon!
After that we went to Tony's down the street from Jeff and Ericka's ostensibly to watch Brazil trample Germany, but I was there for the food. We fired up the BBQ and grilled some chicken and steaks, had Jeff make a mountain of his famous mashed potatoes with the potatoes we got from grandma, and in typical fashion ate way too much.