Two weeks of Shiseikan Budo Kenjutsu and Sojutsu in Poland... with a bit of Kendo thrown in the mix for good measure

Warsaw & Walczs, 16 - 28 August 2016

So I’ve recently returned from a fairly lengthy trip to Europe and have already posted about different parts of it a few times on the Calm and Storm facebook page. After visiting friends and family, and training Aikido, Aunkai and BJJ in Germany, I’ve been lucky enough to have the chance to travel to Poland for some more training in two further locations. My first stop was Warsaw Budojo, where its current head, Shiseikan Budo Kashima Shin Kenjutsu instructor Adam Radecki (4th Dan Aikido) has been kind enough to offer a very special opportunity to share his knowledge and insights into the Kashima Shin Sojutsu (Spear fighting) series that forms a part of the broader Shiseikan Budo Kashima Shin curriculum. Before getting started with that, however, I was lucky enough to arrive timely enough to have the fortuitous chance to attend an introductory session in Kendo that had been arranged for Adam and a few of his co-instructors with a group that was practicing in their dojo over the seminar. Odd coincidence that I would have to practice Japanese martial arts for this long, move to New Zealand, and then travel back to Europe to attend my first ever session in Kendo, but what do you know, once the opportunity presented itself, of course I jumped right into it!

Keeping in mind that this was only one 2hr session of Kendo, there’s not much I can really say in terms of a detailed perspective of Kendo, but I would like to express my thanks to Jacek Lipinski (4th Dan Kendo) and the rest of the crew from Tonbo Kendo Warszawa that I was lucky enough to meet. They’ve been really friendly and welcoming to us, and I believe they did a great job of introducing us to Kendo and displaying the spirit that goes with the art. It was also exactly the latter that stood out most distinctly to me, in particular, the way in which it was inseparably linked together with the forward charging posture and movement. A teaching point greatly made by Jacek throughout the entire session, this was a major part of the way in which the principle of Kikentai-no-ichi (spirit, sword, and body as one) is studied, practiced, and expressed in Kendo, as the Kendoka charge toward each other, giving it their all time and time again.

As a topic, this also couldn’t have been better preparation for the what followed, beginning with the two days during which Adam introduced myself and two other participants to the Shiseikan Budo Kashima Shin Sojutsu series as taught by Inaba Sensei (Meiyo Shihan, Meiji Jingu Shiseikan Budojo, Tokyo). As with almost everyone I have trained Kenjutsu with, and many other weapons arts for that matter, the intensity and seriousness of training just goes through the roof right away and you immediately feel as though you are in a life or death situation. If nothing else, then at the very least this always has the effect of spiking my focus and attention to the max as I try to take in as much of what is being taught as I can, live or die.. 😉

Prompted not last by my more or less recently increased time investment in training with a Bo emphasized by Akuzawa Sensei in the context of Aunkai Bujutsu, I’ve been hugely interested in exploring all permutations of long pole, spear, and similar practices I possibly could, just to get a better feel and better understanding of the various approaches and takes on it out there. So learning the Sojutsu set that is part of our school’s curriculum was an obvious addition and when Adam presented the opportunity to learn it with him, I naturally jumped on it without question.

Once again, it’s far too soon for me to say anything about it here in any technical, or otherwise content-oriented sense. But what I can say without a doubt, is that I’m absolutely excited to have learned the series sufficiently to be able to continue to practice and explore it on a more regular basis with my students here at Calm and Storm – Martial Arts, and I’ve already begun sharing the first bits with them right away, so good times ahead. The few photos below are a bit of an impression of what we got up to over the two days in the beautiful Budojo in Warsaw, Poland, under Adam’s impeccable guidance.

The last part of this trip was this year’s International Shiseikan Budo Association seminar held in Walcz, Poland. These seminars have been running for a few years now but due to distance, time, etc. this was the first one I have ever had the pleasure of joining in so far, and yet again, it was worth every bit of effort necessary for getting there. First off, Araya Kancho, the current director of the Shiseikan Budojo in Meiji Jingu Tokyo, and the entire Shiseikan delegation did an amazing job of sharing their Kenjutsu knowledge and skills with us. Apart from the general, default intensity mentioned before, what I particularly enjoyed about the teaching was the way in which the different facets of Budo practice were constantly linked into our training.

But I’m not writing a technical post here, so I’ll leave the ins and outs of that for another time. Instead, I’ll just add that the other part I’ve hugely enjoyed was the rare opportunity to just hang out with many friends and like-minded Budoka that I’ve known for a long time, as well as meet many new ones that I’m sure I will see a lot more of in the future. That in itself was something I truly appreciated and enjoyed every moment of, so big thanks to all the organizers, teachers, and everyone else for being there and making this happen, and special thanks to the inimitable Adam for all his hard work, passion, and good spirits on literally every single day!

Not so many photos here, so I’ll just leave you with one impression from another outdoor session and I’ll see and train with you all again soon,