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No one will miss it, in addition to the personal difficulties of each one, psychological, physical, relational, financial, we live a very anxious conflictual and ecological current events.
But luckily there is an antidote, Iaido, and in this, the Dojo is a refuge, an oasis. The effect of the antidote is immediate and fortunately has serious after-effects.
Discovered by chance a few years ago, the Magglingen seminar has become one of my most beautiful oases. First of all, there is the idyllic setting with its magnificent view of the snow-covered Bernese Alps. And if I use the term affectionately here, the oasis is the point of convergence of the herd to which everyone comes to share the spring. It is the place for joyful reunions, the pleasure of meeting each other or getting to know new faces and Sensei. This year is exceptional for the presence of Morita, Oshita, Kishimoto Sensei and a delegation of ten of the best teachers in Europe.
Act I. Friday afternoon.
The team of volunteers is well in place, Matthew, irreplaceable, twirling around, attentive to everything and everyone.
Reiho, long impressive lines of Sensei and practitioners.
The stage splits in two. Morita Sensei takes care of the high grades while Oshita Sensei takes care of everyone else. Review of the ZNKR Iai fundamentals. Oshita Sensei laughs heartily all the time and stuns us with his lightness and wonderful fluidity.
Act II Saturday
The stage splits into three parts. Oshita Sensei takes care of the 5-6-7 dan, while Morita Sensei takes care of the 3-4 dan and Kishimoto Sensei the Kyu-1-2 dan. Takao Momiyama and André Schiebroek Sensei assist Morita Sensei who gives us the theme of the day: knowledge and respect of the ZNKR syllabus, knowing that it was written for the kendokas use: there are many implicit parts that they already know. For iaidokas, what is not explicit and that we have to know is how to demonstrate Ma, the physical distance and Ma-ai the time interval necessary to cover this distance. The tools to put these notions into practice correctly are Metsuke and Hyoshi, the rhythm, the cadence, dictated by the opponent, the ZNKR Iai proceeding only by counter-attack. And a fundamental word: copy, copy exactly what André Sensei demonstrates.
After the lunch break, the same theme was repeated.
And then exams from 1st to 5th dan with a European Jury. Good performances and many successes.
To finish, aperitif and meal. A superb organisation, a plentiful meal and a joyful mood with the famous photo wall where everyone can disguise themselves.
Act III Sunday
The stage is divided into four parts: Oshita Sensei takes over the MJER group, an MSR group is formed with European Sensei. Two ZNKR kyu-1-2 dan groups with Kishimoto Sensei and 3-4-5 with Morita, Momi and André Sensei. I choose to stay with Morita Sensei whom I meet for the first time, I really want to explore his pedagogy further.
The theme remains the same with the imperative to copy strictly what is demonstrated. Each Kata is performed twice and we have to evolve exactly at the rhythm of André Sensei who demonstrates. He must become our figurative opponent. Few chose to stay in ZNKR Iai, the exercise is very revealing of the impulsiveness or slowness of the small group. It takes a lot of adjustments to get to practice as one, ichi Hyoshi, one cadence.
After the lunch break, we resume the exercise. Morita Sensei constantly corrects us, he is very passionate, expresses himself with big gestures and in a funny way, he dictates his instructions to his phone to make us hear the translation, because Momi Sensei left at the end of the morning. André Sensei is put to the test, we had to perform the 12 Kata of Seitei Iai with him about twenty times. After a pose, the exercise changes, our group faces Kishimoto Sensei’s group, all of us executing the Kata again at André Sensei’s rhythm.
Reiho and Sayonara, we have to leave the oasis. I really appreciate the chance, the privilege, almost the luxe of being able to practice Iaido, to come to Magglingen, to have such teachers who share their knowledge with kindness and without restraint.
Goliarda Sapienza will not mind if I borrow the title of her magnificent choral novel: Iaido and Magglingen are “L’Arte della Gioia”, the art of joy.
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