Past weekend went down to Ajiro (Atami, in Shizuoka Prefecture) for a weekend of sword. Gosoke hosted 25 of us for special instruction in okuden and naiden, the so-called advanced techniques of which there are eight. I was taught these many years ago, when I first got my okuirisho, which is a document from Gosoke basically saying you are allowed to practice these eight kata and you don't have to split your stomach in shame if someone actually observes you practicing.
Several of them are hard, and my nemesis is Sangyo-icchi. For whatever reason I am totally incapable of doing this kata without throwing my sword everywhere except where it needs to be. Does not help that it is one of the simplest kata.
Alternatively, I find Ichijin to be much easier, though most people find it difficult given the cross-step evade and simultaneous draw-cut.
Salty and I spent most of the first day working on Ichijin and after a fantasic dinner of endless seafood, we spent most of the night with Presley and Wake-kun goofing off in our room and nearly knocking down the lights / poking holes in the screens as we debated the various aspects of martial arts in the modern world.
At the shinnenkai a few weeks ago Gosoke reminded me that it has been five years since I got promoted to 6dan. His none-too-subtle way of telling me I should test for 7dan this year. I immediately said no. But upon reflection, I figure I might as well give it a shot. Gives me some motivation to train a bit more this year, and if I'm not ready, he won't pass me, so it doesn't matter all that much.
Besides, the organization could use a 7dan, so from a purely holistic perspective it's not a bad idea for someone to test, and I and Yoshida-sensei are the only two qualified at this time.

juggling bartenders!

juggling bartenders!
Originally uploaded by renfield