|For Immediate Release:
are coming to Ontario!
- Chris Gilham, Windsor (email@example.com)
The city of Guelph won’t actually be the
filming set for a Samurai drama, but it sure will look like one this May
19 to 21. Every year for the past ten years, martial artists from around
North America have been coming to the city of Guelph so that they can wear
long pleated ‘skirts’ and Japanese swords in their ‘belts’.
Why would anyone want to ‘play samurai’?
To learn from a small group of Japanese swordsmen who teach a martial art
known as ‘Iaido’ (ee-eye-dough).
Iaido is concerned with drawing a Japanese
sword from its scabbard and cutting in the same motion. Most practice is
solo, eventually with a real sword, one that makes the butcher’s blades
look dull. Actually, nothing gets cut, except air.
Iaido is one of those martial arts that
you don’t normally see in North America. When most people think of martial
arts, they think of Steven Seagal and Aikido, or our old friend Chuck Norris
and Karate. Every person on the continent knows the name Bruce Lee.
Iaido isn’t about fighting, or even self-defence. This Japanese sword art
is about perfecting a form, known in martial arts circles as ‘kata.’ There
are lots of kata to learn, but quantity isn’t important at all in this
ancient Japanese way: quality is everything.
Kim Taylor, a sixth dan, or sixth degree
black belt (there are no coloured belts in this system, no new belts with
each grade, in fact, you can’t see the belt because it’s under the traditional
‘skirt’, known as a ‘hakama’) emphasizes, “Students must strive to achieve
power, precision and perfection in their form. Along the way they learn
balance, grace, and control of the body and the mind.“
Iaido is about developing the self, character
growth, stress release, and a great way to study a highly respected, ancient
part of Japanese culture.
Kim Taylor is the founder of the University
of Guelph’s SEI DO KAI, a martial arts club largely devoted to the study
of Japanese swording, though over the years he’s moved into other traditional
arts, like the Japanese staff art, known as ‘Jodo’, and a very rare school
of swording known as the ‘Hyo Ho Niten Ichi-ryu’ (two heavens as one school
of strategy) that was developed by Miyamoto Musashi, author of the "Book
of Five Rings" and Japan's most famous swordsman. The school dates from
the early 1600s and its most distinctive feature is its use of two swords
Kim’s the academic type. As academic types
go, there’s no room for doing things half-heartedly. Thus this year’s eleventh
annual Spring Iaido Seminar. From the start Kim has endeavoured to learn
Iaido from the best swordsmen he could find. Kim’s teacher, Mr. Goyo Ohmi
studied Iaido in his youth in Japan. Mr. Ohmi now lives in Toronto, teaching
Iaido. Together, Kim and Goyo discovered one of Japan’s best iaido practitioners
and teachers, Mr. Matsuo Haruna. Besides holding the highest possible rank
one can hold in Iaido, within the All Japan Kendo Federation, Mr. Haruna
has also been a consistent top three placer in the All Japan Iaido Championships
for many years.
This May, Mr. Haruna returns to the University
of Guelph, along with five other elite iaido teachers from Japan. Together,
they will instruct as many as 100 iaido practitioners who will gather from
around North America. Instruction will cover all areas of swording as it
is practiced in the All Japan Kendo Federation, as well as two older, more
traditional schools of Japanese swording.
Those who have never tried or seen this
sword art are most welcome to attend the three-day seminar. In fact, it’s
highly recommended: There are not many opportunities in North America to
get this top quality instruction in Iaido. Instruction will cover basic
to advanced techniques, depending on the level of the practitioner.
There will also be opportunities to try
the Japanese staff art of Jodo, and the two-sword school of Niten Ichi.
Besides the excellent training, past participants
make high note of the camaraderie and friendship among participants over
the three days. Being the good Canadian host, Kim Taylor also boasts that
the evenings are entertaining too. After ten years of putting this seminar
together, it’s bound to carry a particular ‘festive mood’ of its own: There’s
really nothing like serious training followed by good conversation, cold
drinks and fun, even if the people like to wear skirts and pretend to be
If you want be a part of this May’s samurai
training, contact Kim Taylor for all the details, including how to
get to Guelph, accommodations, and seminar fees. Information can
also be found at this website: http://www.uoguelph.ca/~iaido/
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44 Inkerman St
iaido photographs of Kim Taylor