So in browsing about looking for stuff on my beloved Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto Ryu, I come across this Blogger post about a story on Sugino Dojo, where I studied during my little sojourn in Japan. And realised it sounded very familiar, mainly because I myself wrote it.
Quite a surprise.
That was a long time ago now. Nearly ten years have passed since I came back from Japan, and in all that time I have not found another teacher to guide me. It’s been hard. I went back to Calgary a few times and received teaching from Sensei Skoyles, who first set me on this path, but that’s only once or twice a year. And Sensei Skoyles has no background in TSKSR anyway.
So I’ve been practicing by myself for these years. I did study briefly with a ZNKF Iaido group, but it was deeply inconvenient to get to and the style was a difficult transition for me from TSKSR, and I abandoned that practice. I’ve been practicing off and on at the YMCA, and in the summer I go down to the beach every so often to startle the locals.
My company’s new office, however, includes a gym with a racquetball court and I’ve now been practicing there twice weekly. A couple of folks at the office have demonstrated interest in practicing as well, and there’s now a couple of us. I’m showing them the fundamentals of the TSKSR Omote-Tachi kata, though I take great pains to tell them I am in no way a qualified teacher. I just really need somebody to practice with.
We are careful to avoid risk — without a qualified instructor present the risk of injury is high. We go slow and maintain careful distance from each other. It’s startling, though, how different it is training with another person. The TSKSR kata are paired kata, and practicing them all these years by myself has taught me many bad habits.
Fortunately I was never very good to begin with, so I couldn’t have slid too far backwards.
Seeing so many articles about the people I studied with around the Internet has been very inspiring, though. Waka-sensei looks well, and little Hideo is all grown up! Time rolls on by, don’t it just.