Looking Back: 2012

Our blog has been pretty quiet, but 2012 was a fantastic year for us at Toronto Kenjutsu. We had a couple of thrilling visits and gave our first public demo as Toronto Kenjutsu! At a Javascript conference, of all things. Here’s a quick wrap-up of how our year went:

Sugino Sensei

Sugino Sensei demonstrating iai-jutsu

In May, our headmaster, Sugino Yukihiro, came to Canada for a five-day intensive session in Katori Shinto Ryu. About sixty people came out to practice daily! Our French-Canadian hosts at Mochizuki Aikido were very gracious and the event was a wonderful chance to practice under Sensei’s watchful eye and learn the many bad habits we’ve picked up.

Toronto Kenjutsu’s parent dojo, Jigan Dojo, had a great achievement at this event as the instructor there, Dennis Wiens, received his ni-dan grading from Sugino Sensei. Congrats!

Sensei drilled us of course on all the basics, stances and cuts, every day, and we went into detail on the basic sword kata, as well as the bo and the naginata. There were plenty of great meals and conversations, of course, and the whole week wrapped up with a wonderful celebration at the acreage of one of our hosts. Sake and barbecue and bonfires!

Thanks to the wonderful people at Mochizuki Aikido for hosting this terrific event, and of course we are very grateful to Sugino Sensei for sharing his time with us.

Throne of JS

Demonstrating at a tech conference.

 

Toronto Kenjutsu was asked to demonstrate at a Toronto technology conference called “Throne of JS” — it was a samurai-themed event so the organizers wanted a touch of real samurai tradition.

It was our first time demonstrating as a group so we were a little nervous! The venue was a little strange but the crowd really enjoyed the show and once we got over our jitters we had a blast. Everyone was very nice to us and nobody got hurt! Some of our sword tips came a little close to the spectators but it all worked out in the end.

Såzen Visit

Training outdoors is a treat!

Sensei Såzen Larsen Kusano is a Buddhist priest from Norway who I met long ago at Sugino Dojo. He spent many years studying under Sugino Sensei and is now a 5th dan in Katori Shinto Ryu. He comes out to visit just about every summer and this year was no exception.

The “Såzen Weekend” is held at Jigan Dojo’s beautiful St Catharines facility, and when the weather cooperates as it did this year, we get to practice out in the sunshine. People come from all over Ontario and Quebec and some folks came from as far away as Pittsburgh to join us with Såzen Sensei. Working with so many different practitioners from different “strains” of Katori Shinto Ryu is a wonderful opportunity to explore and deepen one’s understanding of this ancient art.

Såzen always brings a great perspective on the functionality of Katori. He is experienced in many martial arts and can reveal subtle details in every facet of Katori’s techniques. He is also an accomplished guitarist and our annual dinner is always a musical feast! Lots of sake and delicious home-made Japanese food made for a memorable evening.