United States Tamiya Ryu Iaijutsu Gennankai


Student Views

Shinsakai Reflections

USTRI Deshi, 2009-09-30

The following deshi tested for different ranks at the June, 2009 US Tamiya Ryu Iaijutsu Shinsakai. These are there thoughts on the experience:

Because of my mother’s death, I was unable to test for my Sandan at the July Shinsa. With the much appreciated offer from the Tamiyaryu Board of Directors, I was given the opportunity to test, by myself, at the Fall All-Members Practice Session in September.

I used the extra time I was provided to work on the finer points of the kata and the opening and closing etiquette. Alexanian Sensei was kind enough to provide me with access to the dojo and review my performance. As a result of this extra practice time and the positive support of Alexanian Sensei, the “fear factor” of testing by myself was dramatically reduced. As I think back on the event there was nervous energy but a level of confidence that allowed me to complete the solo performance without passing out.

The applause and congratulations after the performance and at the after party has always been a trait of the Tamiyaryu family and really helped to make the experience one that I will remember for a long time.

Thomas Hufnagel
Tamiya Ryu Iaijutsu Sandan

The shinsa on June 13th was like the three before when I tested, nerve wracking. My first test for Ikkyu was however the most stressful since it was my first test, and in front of Tsumaki-Soke and Endo-Sensei. Testing seems to get less stressful each time leading up to the current test which was the least stressful of them all to date. During the test I relaxed and watched the other students perform their test sequences and it was enjoyable to see how people progressed from one test to another. When it was my turn to test I did my best and gave everything I had. My performance was no different that what I try to give every week in class. As Young-Sensei said at the beginning of the day “It is just another day at the office”. That is how I approached the test and it made for a more enjoyable experience.

Joe Gallagher
Tamiya Ryu Iaijutsu Sandan

It has been my experience that when you are testing it is important not to get too stressed out or over think your performance because you will get very nervous and psyche yourself out. You cannot worry about who is watching or evaluating your performance. When you stand up there about to begin you need to try to block out everyone else and just imagine it is you against your opponent. Once the test begins try not to think too much about the movements, let you instincts and training guide you. Remain focused throughout the test and if you make a mistake do not get upset or discouraged, keep going and finish strong. Do not fear the testing process, embrace it! It is an opportunity to show how far you have progressed and your respect for Tamiya Ryu Iaijutsu.

Jim Corona
Tamiya Ryu Iaijutsu Nidan

My testing demonstrated to me that there are many aspects of my life which need to be more polished. My Iai has become another task to be completed, no longer the moving meditation that it once was. Like a great many other pursuits in my life, I have let go of the craft of the art. I am not moving with Ki Ken Tai, but painfully aware of all the distractions that surround me. This distraction is not passive, but an active distraction that keeps me thinking of things other then what I am doing. The same is true of my Shakuhachi, when I play a note, I do it so that I may move along to the next note. In doing so I rob each note of it’s meaning, and condem the next note to the same fate. It is the rate of decay that a note is given that sets the meaning for the next note. I have been playing each note the same lately, giving a overall generic feel to the sound I create. Just like the generic Iai I simply “do”. This is not without remedy, I simply have to learn to practice and disappear into each technique. When my time is limited, I should practice only so much as I can “craft”, and not as much as I can “do” in the allotted time. This return to mindfulness would benefit a great many aspects of my life, and that is what I have learned.

Joseph Smith
Tamiya Ryu Iaijutsu Nidan

This is my third year as a member of Tamiya Ryu Iaijutsu and my third shinsakai. Every year, I find that I look forward to the event with more excitement than the previous year. It really is one of the highlights of my training and has become one of the highlights of my year. It is also an opportunity to get together as a group and train with all the other members of TRI.

Some of the reasons I found it easier to test for Shodan than to test for Ikkyu was because 1) I knew what to expect this time, 2) I wasn’t testing in front of the whole visiting Japanese contingent, 3) I knew that my fellow students were rooting for me and wanted me to succeed, and 4) I knew I wouldn’t be up there unless my instructors were sure I would do well on the test. This last part is a very important component of the relative ease of testing for Shodan compared to Ikkyu. I say “relative” because I was still quite anxious leading up to the testing itself. I certainly lost some sleep the night before due to nerves. However, once we got the gym and started warming up and getting ready to test, the anxiety was fairly manageable (my heart was still pounding but not so hard that I though that those standing around me would be able to hear it). I attribute this, to a large degree, to Sensei making sure I was well prepared for testing. By the time I took the floor to test, I had gone through practice tests more times than I could count. I had seen videos of my performances on those practice tests and knew that, even though my technique could stand to improve (there will always be room for improvement) I saw that I could do what needed to be done to successfully test for Shodan.

Having said that, once I walked off the floor after testing I was overcome with a great wave of relief that I hadn’t tripped over my hakama, hadn’t sat for 20 minutes trying to tie or untie my sageo, and hadn’t flung my iaito across the room during the nukitsuke in Inazuma. So my sincerest thanks and deepest appreciation for everyone who made this an enjoyable, successful shinsakai experience for me.

Cindy Sifonis
Tamiya Ryu Iaijutsu Shodan

I was honored to be able to take my Ikkyu test along with several other students testing for various grade levels. Thanks to the support and encouragement of my peers, seniors and instructor, I felt relatively clam and relaxed during the test. Although I’m not totally happy with my performance, it seemed to be good enough. Above all I survived. I’m looking forward to next year.

James Fiss
Tamiya Ryu Iaijutsu Ikkyu

The first time I tested in Martial Arts was in 1968, the most recent was on 13 June 2009. That’s a break of over 41 years. I was asked the same question several times both during and after Shinsa, “How did you feel?” My answer then was, “Great! I’m glad it’s over. The hardest part was being able to stand up after sitting in Seiza for so long. After that everything was just like another training session…” Now, honestly, a second response has quietly sneaked into a space in the vast parking lot in my mind. “Danno-San, you’re really too old to be doing this stuff. Look at all these youngsters around you. Who are you trying to impress?” That’s a dangerous thought. When does a person become too old to pursue a dream? That moment happens when that person believes that the dream is unreachable, regardless of their age. My encouragement and motivation to continue is supported by the videos of Soke Sensei demonstrating and teaching the art in his 90’s. It’s never to late to chart a new course in life. All it takes is perserverance, dedication, practice, good kneepads, and a little help from your friends. Plus a few heavy duty pain-killers every now and then… So, for all those aspiring to reach a new goal at the 2010 Shinsa, GANBATTE! Do Your Best, or as we Hawaiians say, “Go For Broke!”

Daniel Wung
Tamiya Ryu Iaijutsu Ikkyu

Thinking back on my first shinsa makes me think of many things… What I’m involved in, the people I have met, where this will take me and what the future may hold for me in my studies with USTRI. But mostly it makes me realize that my what I thought was merely a fastination with the sword is much more than that. It truely is a way of life that can provide so much not only for me but for all of those in my life. Yet I can’t help also wondering what it would be like to sit down and talk with the many generations of deshi that came before us and the many more that will follow. This truely is something special we are all involved in and we should do our best to preserve it so that others may experiance what we have been given and to find their own joy individual joy that this has to offer.

John Yauney
Tamiya Ryu Iaijutsu Ikkyu