Cutting Edge Issue 2 - Page 34

1962 a cutting exercise whilst walking in a large circle around the perimeter of the dojo. The instructor suddenly shouted – in Japanese – “OK chaps, now round the other way”. The Japanese – speakers immediately reversed direction and started walking and cutting, whilst the non Japanese speakers carried on, oblivious to the shouted instructions – we were knee deep in ear lobes in a couple of minutes. Iaido was really starting to take off in Europe, and the French organised a large international seminar in Versailles in 1998. The Brits went over mob-handed by Eurostar, the crazy British Rail rules at the time meant having to send the swords the day before and pick them up from the Unaccompanied Luggage Department when we arrived at the Gard de Nord. No such problem when I went to Japan in the June to try iaido nanadan. Getting shinken in and out of Japan is pretty difficult and time consuming and, as the use of a shinken is mandatory for 6th and 7th dan exams, I was kindly loaned Ishido Sensei’s “lucky” sword. Anyway, it must have had special qualities as Louis Vitalis and I were both fortunate enough to slip under the radar on the day. I went to Japan in the June to try iaido nanadan. Getting shinken in and out of Japan is pretty difficult and time consuming and, as the use of a shinken is mandatory for 6th and 7th dan exams, I was kindly loaned Ishido Sensei’s “lucky” sword. Louis and Jolanda organised the very successful EIC/EJC in the small southern Dutch town of Sittard a couple of years later, and I made yet another journey to Japan, this time to try for jodo nanadan in Tokyo. I was kindly partnered in the grading 32 | CUTTING EDGE 1974 Jodo with Sarah in Jordan 2002 by Rene van Amersfoort for this one. Anyone who knows Rene will be aware that the term shinken ni (In real earnest) was added to the Japanese language with him in mind. The grading went past in a blur, just trying to stay alive, and the adrenaline rush left me trembling like a teenager at his first strip show! Louis and Rene passed jodo nanadan a year later and now Louis and I are, I believe, the only Europeans to hold nanadan in all three disciplines. In 2002 I was invited to accompany Rene to the first of three seminars in Amman, Jordan. An extremely interesting and thought provoking visit which was organised initially for the students of Sarah Kabariti, but to which many police and army karate and taekwondo instructors also attended. At the end of the seminar we held a kyu/dan grading attended by one of Jordan’s Princesses and Senior Military brass. Among the participants was Prince Talal, a karateka, who caused a minor problem before the grading. We explained, as diplomatically as possible, that being a Prince couldn’t guarantee a pass for ikkyu. He said that as a Prince, his duty was to show his willingness to everyone that he would try, even though he wouldn’t pass, and not to worry about it. We held the grading and he, and another from the military, were unsuccessful – as we had expected. Next practice saw the guy from the military in tears and Sarah explained that he had just lost his job, not for failing, but for taking paid leave and not taking the training seriously. A real dilemma. We explained to Prince Talal that we couldn’t ever do a grading again if the price for failure meant the end of someone’s career and livelihood. Being a Prince must have some advantages I guess, as a General was summoned, backsides kicked and the poor guy re-instated. The combined iaido and jodo Championships were held in Bologna in 2005 with the top -notch delegation from the AJKF in attendance. At the end of the Championships Ishido and Namitome Sensei put on an iaido embu. Namitome Sensei, as well as being hanshi in jodo is also hachidan in iaido, and an All Japan Iaido Champion. But due to a broken achilles tendon and severe arthritis in his knees, it was more comfortable performing standing iaido ?v?V??@???