In the fall of 2004 (September 18th to be exact) I was able to start a Tamiya Ryu Study Group in the city of Clarkston, where I currently reside. This came about wih the support and help of a number of people - Alexanian Sensei, Dianne-Sensei, the Yudansha as well as the people at the Independence Township Parks and Recreation Department who were very welcoming.
We launched the group on a beautiful day, with a public demonstartion. Over 50 people attended that day. Shortly after we had our first four students, and the group was moving forward.
Something I had been thinking about the entire summer until the first day of class was “now what?” What exactly will I do with this group? How will it work, how will the students like it? How do I work this into my already busy life? Will anyone really even show up?
All of this anxiety and worry was pretty worthless, and luckily it didn’t take long for me to realize that these questions, like many things will just work themselves out. Time, experience, maturity of the group will all eventually kick in and things will be fine. So far I believe we are off to a good start. We have a number of dedicated, consistant students already, and with the continual support of Alexanian Sensei and Dianne-Sensei and our “Guest” Sempai (Yudansha that come to help), we have a good cadence to the class and are continually working to refine the process.
I would say making the transition from student to teacher was particularly interesting and difficult. For we will always be students, and in turn to teach what we know seems to be the time you realize how little you really know. It tests your knowledge on a daily basis. I never realized how much easier it is to perform Inazuma then describe it to others. I make mistakes during class, I call the wrong starting foot, call the wrong kamae: Gedan when I mean Chudan, and a hundred other things each class. I understand very much what Alexanian Sensei has always said about never mastering this art, always, always we are refining, adapting, changing. He has told us the story of how Soke even says at 100 years old he still feels like there is so much for him to learn about this art. I still feel like the farther I go in Tamiya Ryu, the less I know - it starts to create a balance after a while. Just when you think you get it, even for a second - it passes and you no longer do. For that I am thankful - it keeps me attached to my sword.
So the experience of teaching has made me a much stronger student of Tamiya Ryu. I look at this group of students in Clarkston and I am reminded a lot of the people I have grown to know so well through training, I see the same awkward moves sometimes, I hear the same questions we asked, the same excitement at learning something new. I can hope for them and others to continue on the path, see where it takes you. I’m not sure yet myself, but I am excited.
Brent Eastman, Sandan
United States Tamiya Ryu Iaijutsu
Clarkston Study Club Leader