I believe that learning and using the Japanese language is a very important part of being a member of USTRI. Keeping the 400 year tradition alive is a promise made to Soke Sensei.
I remember 19 years ago I went with my son Eric at night to learn the Japanese language from Gennan Buhaku and Genan Sensei. Those were very good times.
At the Honbu dojo we try to use the Japanese language as much as possible. Some examples include:
- all counting is done in Japanese.
- before each kata the instructor and deshi say the kata name in both Japanese and English.
- the commands such as start and stop and the opening and closing etiquette are also done in Japanese.
Our use of Japanese is not just tied to kata work. We have taught the deshi to use Japanese for:
- daily greetings; asking about your health; and discussing the weather.
- we also prepared handouts and taught specific terms for use in Japan; telling a taxi driver where we need to go; ordering meals; asking for help in a train station.
- finally whenever we have a guest or potential deshi observe a class we introduce ourselves in Japanese.
In conclusion, we do not require our deshi to be fluent in Japanese but we teach enough to honor the 400 year tradition of USTRI.
Thomas L. Hufnagel (Gensui)
United States Tamiya Ryu Iaijutsu
USTRI Director of Operations
USTRI Honbu Branch Manager-6th Degree