The 2016 IKKU Koga-Ryu Iaido and Bokken Clinic occurred on April 16, 2016, hosted by Shihan Dai Amy Howell at the Legion of AllStars Gymnastics in Griffin, GA. There was a good turnout with ~27 attendees for this special clinic. Participants gathered from across various IKKU – International Karate Kobudo Union Dojos for the 1 day event. Dojo participation included Tora Shin Karate Kai, Keishin Karate Kai, Suansu Karate Kai, Kita Kaze Karate Kai and Robinson Karate Dojo & Yoga Center.
The Katana and Bokken are true weapons of the Japanese Arts. Soke Joseph Ruiz learned these weapons and art while training with his sensei in Hawaii and Japan. He furthered his knowledge while training in the U.S. with Soke Shogo Kuniba, 10th Dan, of the Seishin Kai Karate Union. Training with Soke Ruiz is always something special, but when the opportunity for the Katana arises it certainly is a rare combination and opportunity to train in a true Japanese Martial Art unlike any other. The Katana is considered to be the most dangerous and coveted weapon of Koga-Ryu Kobudo, which is one of the reasons the 2016 IKKU Koga-Ryu Iaido and Bokken Clinic was so special.
During the early hours the all participants learned how to properly suit up in a Hakama as well as strap on a live Katana. Following this potion of the class the group as a whole began working on the first several of many cuts for the day. Kyoshi-Sei Larry Griffin and Renshi Sensei Nadine Oka both assisted with the participants that were new to the bokken. During the afternoon sessions the participants were primarily split into two groups. The primary group focussed on live blades while the the secondary group focused on the bokken.
Renshi Sensei Nadine Oka of the Keishin Karate Kai lead the bokken group on the secondary floor. This group spent much of the day focusing on Tachi Kaze Kata. The Tachi Kaze Kata is the first we teach in the IKKU and it helps instill the foundation of cuts, footwork and handling of the bokken. After a practitioner reaches a certain level of proficiency then they generally will move up to the live blade, which as you know is a dangerous weapon and deserves much care and attention while handling.
Soke Joseph Ruiz led the Live blade group on the main floor with Hanshi Ron Downton and Shihan Dai Matt Downton assisting as leaders of the group. Soke also took time to move between the two groups to share his expertise where needed. The Koga-Ryu Iaido system contains 20 cuts or Seitei Gata, as the whole of this art. In addition it also contains 5 full length Kata, Shodan – Godan. The live blade group had their hands full for the entire day as all 20 cuts/Seitei Gata were taught and practiced. Expertise levels of participants varied throughout the group from very proficient to novice, but as usual the IKKU did a great job of teaching to all levels of practitioners.
Needless to say the 2016 IKKU Koga-Ryu Iaido and Bokken Clinic was a successful clinic with only 1 minor injury occurring at the end of the day. Not too bad of a record for the 100+ man hours performed on the floor for the duration of the event. For those that missed this special clinic, I’d recommend you plan to attend the next such event when it’s scheduled. The Live Blade Class is something special that a practitioner of Japanese and Okinawan Arts shouldn’t avoid when the opportunity arises. Hopefully we’ll see another class in 2017 on our schedule, or possibly it may make an appearance at the upcoming IKKU 30th Anniversary Summer Camp entitled “Camp Koga”.
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