Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Japan Week 2013

Photo provided by J. Fugitt
 Japan Week is a yearly even that goes on in our little town; a celebration of Japanese culture throughout the city.  Naturally our dojo is a big part of this event, and the past couple of years we've organized a dinner to celebrate and introduce people to a bit of the culture first-hand.  We used last year as a template and set out to improve upon that dinner, and I'd say that we succeeded.  I hope that our guests felt the same way!

The Wave, a local Japanese restaurant/sushi bar catered the event again, and once again the food was outstanding.  This year we decided to get some servers to help with the food, which made a huge difference. Everyone got their fill, even their seconds and thirds, and we still had plenty of food left over.  During the dinner Spokane Taiko performed and they sounded amazing.  I also think they picked up a few new recruits.  The iaido group also put on a demo, showing the crowd the elegance and grace of drawing, cutting, and sheathing a sword.

After about an hour it was our turn to go.  We started with kata, and since we had very little room we presented them as a single pair at a time.  I was partnered with Seth for the duration of the demo, and we decided on sanbonme, with me as shidachi.  I have to say, in my opinion, we did a great job with it. The distancing all throughout was spot on, as well as the movements themselves.  I really focused on blocking out the crowd and treating it like I was performing kata for a shinsa, which helped put me in a great mindset to showcase the best I had.  After the other groups went we put on our men and kote and went into some uchikomi drills to show them the various tragets, a bit of kirikaeshi, and then a few matches.  Once again I was paired with Seth, with Billy calling points.  I scored first, after knocking down Seth's attempt to strike my kote and delivering a men that found its mark. He retaliated with a hiki men and then a regular men to take the match 2-1.  We put on a good show for the crowd all throughout.

The next day we performed another demo, as part of the opening ceremony at the downtown mall.  Once again I was paired with Seth for kata and everything else.  We decided on yonhonme this time, and once again I was shidachi.  We moved fluidly through the whole thing again, minding our timing and distance with each other and the crowd.  We moved into uchikomi drills again, and this time I used a combination of big strikes and small strikes to demonstrate the various attacks.  I don't know if anyone in the crowd noticed what I was doing but it made me feel good :-).

Seth and I were paired up for the final match of the demo, with Billy emphasizing "young, fast people that are fun to watch" before we stepped out.  We traded blows a bit and I was able to catch Seth with a debana kote, and then a bit later with a hiki men to take the match 2-0.  Once again I feel that we gave the crowd a good show, although at one point I did slip on the mall floor while trying to launch an attack.  I stayed on my feet, but the attack was definitely nothing to write home about!

I love these demos.  It's fun to be able to show people what kendo is, and let them see various levels of experience and age ranges performing, both male and female.  We had kids fighting with each other.  We had giant men fighting less-than-giant females.  And, as Billy said, we showed a bit of the "young, fast guys" that are just fun to watch.  Although I wouldn't exactly call myself young or fast!  Maybe younger than some, and maybe faster than some is more appropriate.  I'm definitely looking forward to the next demo, when we can come together again as a dojo and show the town this martial art that we love so much.

And now for some pictures!  All pictures were graciously provided by J. Fugitt of Spokane Taiko.


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