June 15, 2007

Dach-sensei's trip to California

(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.

June 04, 2007

Inaugural Mid-South Taikai Results

Congratulations to Kajitani-sensei and the Little Rock Kendo Club for winning the inaugural Mid-South Taikai team championship which took place on Sunday, June 3rd, 2007!!!

And congratulations to Ken Tanaka (Memphis, pictured above) and David Biggins (Little Rock) for capturing Kanto-Sho (Fighting Spirit) awards!!

This was a great opportunity for the Memphis Kendo Club to practice with the Little Rock group, especially since both groups do not regularly get to travel to larger tournaments in light of their geographical locations. I think it's safe to say that through this event, we have all made some great new friendships.

Little Rock is to be commended for actually putting this idea into action and I think I speak for everyone in our group that it was a really great time. This takai -- the first of hopefully many, many more to come -- was designed much different from a typical tournament. Indeed, the team competition for more formal tournaments calls for a maximum of 5 players per team. For the inaugual Mid-South Taikai, however, the formal rules were altered such that both clubs would field only one team comprising as many members as could travel for the event, with the total number of match wins determining the victor. Likewise, only the students would fight for the championship, leaving the instructors and asst instructors the tasks of timekeeping, scorekeeping, and refereeing. This was a great example of a "goodwill" tournament between the clubs.

For this event, Little Rock fielded a team of 8 players, while Memphis fielded a team of 11.
Even with shimpan duties falling to the three Memphis instructors, Little Rock was on fire, winning the first 5 matches, putting the Memphis team in a very precarious position from which it could not recover.

It is hoped that, over time, both clubs will continue to grow and its members will gain more kendo experience such that this tournament will develop into a more formal setting. There really is quite a bit of potential for this to become an excellent annual event for the Memphis Club.

Congratulations to everyone who took part in the effort!
Despite having a team with 3 fewer members, Little Rock represented themselves quite well, and hopefully that will serve as a powerful motivator for our club to exact revenge next year!!

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