west coast taikai day two

The main event! I ended up interpreting for most of the time, and judging for the rest. Everyone looked good and there were over 70 competitors so it was a solid day. I thought I could jump into the iai cutting division, but turns out I had to judge! (Bummer too because I am quite sure I would have beat all of my students.)
The overall winner was Robin Ramirez, who was solid in placing across the board in both kata and cutting. He won a Howard Clark blade which I am sure he will have no trouble setting up himself.
We even ended on time, besides a minor crisis at the end running out of ink and Japanese people to write up all the winners' certificates.
When all was said and done there were a couple thousand cut targets and many smiling people.
After the taikai we went out to dinner and ended up eating greasy Chinese food. Just when dinner was finishing, the airline called to say they had Hataya-sensei's luggage! He lost his stuff the week before in Florida, and now the day before leaving it had arrived! He didn't care though; he was so happy to get back his stuff and specifically all the swords he bought that when we made it back to the hotel he wanted to buy everyone a round but the bar had just closed.
I ended up taking a few swords back for him since it was easier than shipping.

west coast taikai day 1

First official day of the taikai started at 8am with seminars. We did the first Mugairyu seminar with a big group who worked hard for almost two hours. We spent most of the time on small details like noto and chiburi, as it was these bits that Gosoke really wanted folks to work on.
After the seminar I helped Tony with the iai cutting seminar; luckily I didn't blow any of my cuts when I cut first, and then took a few folks off to the side to help them work on technique. Cutting from the draw is harder than it looks, and I think a few people were honestly surprised that they couldn't cut. But then again, not everyone practices cutting iai like Mugairyu, so I think there was much learning going on.
After that I jumped into the wakizashi cutting seminar. Tony rolled over in his wheelchair and nailed a few cuts, and I borrowed folks' swords and worked on my basics.
Did one more Mugai seminar in the afternoon with a smaller group before the demonstration in the evening. Gosoke used his new Howard Clark sword and did a stunning demo that blew everyone away. After the demo we had some dinner in the hotel and hung out chatting with Ted, Keith, and the rest of the motley crew. Keith had one of Howard's blades on sale that I broke down and had to buy. It was simply stunning though I won't see it for a year or so as it still needs a polish and mounting.

la day two

Slept in until 9ish, had some breakfast with Gosoke and checked email until Tony came by and took us to the hotel. We checked in and got settled, then went to Senpokan again this time for promotion testing. Everyone looked really solid, though it's the finer details that they need work on; the non-cutting bits like bowing and other formalities were quite sloppy. However, seven people tested for 3dan and they all cut from the draw. They looked really, really tight and Gosoke was intensely proud because it was obvious everyone worked really hard practicing on their own since Gosoke had seen them last.
After the test we did the kumitachi again and then Ted presented Gosoke with his Howard Clark swords. Finally we headed out for Mexican food. Everyone was there including Hataya-sensei, and Hata-chan even flew in from LA. Good food was had by all before retiring to the hotel.

la day one

Singapore Airlines is amazing. Seriously, truly wonderful. All the stewardesses are beautiful young women in attractive uniforms with impeccable service and manners. Each and every economy seat comes with a footrest, an entertainment system with tens of movies, hundreds of songs, and video games on demand. The entire plane has free, highspeed wireless internet. The food is stupendously good. And they gave me free socks and a toothbrush. Damn, that's good flying!
Landed at LAX and hung around waiting for Rogue 1 Brown Leader who was supposed to land earlier but ended up getting delayed and landed later. His swords were put in a locked aluminum gun case by ANA, who didn't bother telling anyone in LA the combo to the lock, so short work with a knife and a screw driver and we popped the aluminum lock hasp off the case. Hint: steel lock does no good on weak aluminum case.
Got to the Senpokan Dojo in time for afternoon class. Gosoke was already there and we had class for a few hours; did some iai and then the kumitachi that no one had done before, then went to a local Italian place for dinner. Hint #2: if someone calls your restaurant making a reservation for 25 people and you only have one cook working, do not say yes. Naturally, Gosoke got his pizza last, after an hour and a half wait. Went back to Tony's and promptly collapsed on the air mattress.