I started to practice Iai-do and Jo-do in the UK 2 years ago.
The reason I started was that I first wanted to see an Iai-do practice in the UK.
So I asked the Kendo club captain, “please take me there”
I wanted to watch, but when he came to pick me up, he said,
“Why you do not take your Kendo wear?” I did not want to take it,
but thought that I would only go once so I did as he asked.
I said hello to everyone in the club, and they made me very welcome.
I did not think I would do Iai again but later on the captain said to me
“We are going to have a meal in the Indian restaurant and have a curry,
will you come? We are going to do Kendo Kata, if you come you can join the party.”
I was not sure if I should go or not, but I thought “Curry sounds nice, want to go!
” so I went with wooden sword and Kendo wear. Actually I wanted to see the members again
and at the party everyone said to me, “see you next week!”
so I became a member the club very naturally. Later I heard that,
they asked me to teach Kata so I would become a member of the club.
There were no Japanese members in the Eishinkan Dojo before I became the member.
They have asked me to advise about Japanese language and script and made me welcome.
The practice is in a scout hut where there is the UK flag,
and during the practice they put the Shinzen next to the flag.
I am the only Japanese but other members are from Spain and from Rumania and of course Britain.
There is another lady who practices hard.
The Eishinkan the teachers teach in English, but use Japanese for Iai-do and Jo-do terms.
They asked me the meaning of some of the kata names but I could not answer,
when they showed me the names the letters are all English;
They asked me again, but I could not understand the English.
Because they pronounce the word in English I still cannot understand it.
I just say, “It is difficult for Japanese!”
Later the teacher showed me the letters in the Kanji (Chinese letters),
so I understood the word in Japanese. But I did not know the meaning of Iai-do names.
The words are in Japanese;
山下風 (It is very difficoult to read for Japanese!)
Jock who is an Eishinkan teacher speaks Japanese very well came to teach and talked in Japanese to me.
He was the 1st captain of the British Kendo team at the 1st Kendo international match.
He said to me, “Jo-do is a wonderful because we can practice just using the Jo-stick.
It is not expensive to practice is it?”and smiled. He made me to decide to know Jo-do,
I wanted to understand why they practice it in the UK, and to join them,
so I started to practice harder.
But after I left the UK last March, I did not practice in Japan.
I saw practice sometimes, but I did not do it myself, when I came back to Eishinkan,
the Iai-do and Jo-do memories were all gone from my brain.
My x-class mates attend the senior class now.
They are my friends but now my Senpai (older member).
There are no new beginner members, so I am the lowest member.
It is the first experience for me to drop in a class (character building for you Yuki Ed.).
It is different from Kendo, I always have a clear understanding of how to do Kendo.
With Iai and Jo after one practice I forget the previous one.
Iai-do is similar to Kendo so I can do a little, but Jo-do is so different,
I can not do it well. I understand now how difficult it is to start Kendo as an adult.
I can still do Kendo after a long gap,
I have stopped Kendo many times since I started when I was 6 years old,
and my body remembers, it is not necessary to think.
But Iai-do and Jo-do are too different for me.
I practice same pattern, but spend more time than another members learning it.
The teachers and friends are kind to teach such a foolish person as me, so I thank them very much.
Last month, the teacher Chris got 7th Grade of Iai-do in Japan. He held a celebration party held in his home. Many Iai-do members in the UK went to celebrate.
The picture on the left is teacher Jock, on the right is teacher Chris.
We bought a gift for him. The presenter is Paul.
Teacher Chris cut the celebration cake.
It is interesting to learn Japanese Iai-do and Jo-do taught by British in the UK.
I hope to continue to practice with them.