(Kneeling: Harry Dach-sensei (center), "Big Tony" at Sensei's right)
Last weekend, Memphis Kendo Club's head instructor Harry Dach travelled to the land of fruits and nuts (California), where he had been invited to teach a seminar (gasshugu) to a group thirsting to understand CLEAN kendo. There he met quite a diverse group of eager individuals, including, among others, a serious practitioner named 'Filthy' and an American-born Japanese player learning to speak Japanese at a U.S. college.
The California dojo sensei is a giant of a man. At 350+ lbs, "Big Tony" towered over Dach-sensei. His kind personality and eagerness to learn dwarfed his physical stature. All of his students had the respect that all true martial artists come to know, and their ability to pick up what was taught, as well as their fearlessness in asking questions, made the overall experience a real joy.
Evenings were spent at Big Tony's house, with Tony's love, Barbara, there, too. She and Tony were great hosts.
Training started with Dach-sensei sharing his thoughts on the arts, including his feelings on an unwilling-to-help Federation of which he is a member. Afterwards, they jumped right into practice with basic footwork and the importance of kicking off with the back foot. Then they went on to make sure that the swing of the shinai and the stomp of the front foot all came together (ken-tai-ichi). Many explanations were given and from there, they moved onto drills both with and without the use of men and kote.
At the end, sensei led the group in kakari-geiko and jigeiko. A few problems arose when participants had problems kicking with the back foot and coordinating the hand, shinai, and the stomp (fumikomi-ashi) into one movement (ki-ken-tai-ichi). That will all resolve itself with practice, practice, and more practice.
Dach-sensei reports that the experience was fantastic and that he's grateful to have had the opportunity to meet and train with Big Tony's group.
At the Memphis Club's last practice, Dach-sensei passed on Big Tony's open invitation to all Memphis Club members to come and train with them if they ever find themselves in California.
Anyone who might be interested shoud speak with Dach-sensei for contact information and coordination efforts.