I am in Tokyo ready for the start of 16WKC tomorrow. Prior to arriving for the referees’ seminar we spent a week in Kansai and enjoyed several sessions in Osaka Shudokan. We also made a diversion to visit Uegaki sensei in his dojo in Kawakami village in the Kii mountains.
As well as having a private keiko session with two hachidan sensei, I had the opportunity to practice kendo no kata with Uegaki sensei using kata swords. Sensei has a reputation as a very strict kata teacher and I was constantly pulled up on many small but important points. The biggest impression made on me was sensei’s explanation of how to make correct seiza and rei. I have been doing these of course for the many years that I have been practicing kendo and apparently doing them wrong.
When we take seiza for rei at the beginning of kata, the underside of our toes should touch the floor as we lower our backside on to our heels. Only after we have placed our weight in such a way should we raise our hips and fold our toes under before we sit back into seiza for rei. This may well be standard practice for Iai, but it was new to me.
The second point was that when we make zarei we should break the movement as we rise after lowering our head to the floor, to look at our opponent before continuing to an upright position.
I wish I could have spent much more time with Uegaki sensei as it will take a lot more practice to take all he had to teach me on board. After keiko sensei turned from his strict instructor personae to his normal affable self, telling us that he had got up that morning to pick the potatoes that he had lovingly tended in his vegetable patch to find a monkey eating the last of them. To add insult to injury he is sure that it is the same monkey who stole his melons last year.