Friday, November 27, 2009

Succeeding with Samurai Sword Training


Q&A with Iwakabe Sensei

Sensei, what qualities do you think are the most important for an Iaido student to possess?
The most important quality that an Iaido student should have is patience. Learning Iaido is not something you can master overnight. It is a lifetime process. In the beginning, your thoughts are focused only on learning the movements. As you learn the movements, you then learn how the movements are applied. As your experience grows in Iaido, so does your learning. You will even hear from those that have achieved the highest ranks in Iaido that they are still learning. This is a perfect testament that your learning as a student never stops and you must have the patience to keep trying to improve.

Dan Lowry, author of In the Dojo, has a perfect passage on what a student is. "Shoshinsha is another word - a 'person with a beginning mind' - that can describe the new student. The wise student remains a shoshinsa all during his training in the martial Ways, always with a mind that is ready to learn more and always ready to accept that he has not seen it all, no matter how much experience and talent he may gain."

Iaido Student Testimonial
"I can see Iaido carry over to the rest of my life with a self-contained pursuit of constant improvement.

Iaido also gives me a much needed outlet of physical and mental exertion, and time to focus on myself in a stressful work week and career."

Anders L., Castle Rock, Colorado

CLICK HERE to learn more about our Iaido / Samurai Sword program.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Samurai Philosophy: Bushido: The Soul of Japan review, Part 4

We continue to explore Bushido's major principles, concepts, and values as articulated in the classic 1899 Japanese text, Bushido: The Soul of Japan, by Inazo Nitobe, and evaluate their applicability in today's modern world. Bushido: The Soul of Japan is one of the first major works on samurai ethics and Japanese culture. It is considered by some to be the first collective statement of what is commonly referred to as the Seven Virtues of Bushido.

Nitobe offers for consideration seven virtues of Bushido that attempt to illustrate the philosophical values of the samurai. However, it should be recognized that there are not, in truth, seven virtues of Bushido. This is only Nitobe's subjective articulation of samurai culture and it is little more than an artificial construct. Other academics like Nitobe or practitioners of Bushido could easily and perhaps in an equally comprehensively fashion offer four, ten, or even one-hundred virtues of Bushido. Furthermore, the seven virtues presented here are concentric. That is, each value overlaps with and is influenced by another. No single virtue of Bushido exists or can exist by itself. Remember, all systems, including Bushido, Aikido, or any other, are ultimately artificial. The holistic nature of any system of values is unlikely to be comprehensively articulated in written language. Some virtues transcend written word. Nonetheless, we will attempt to explore each thoroughly.

To read more, visit the main article here.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Thanksgiving Wishes: Kinro Kansha no Hi

In Japan, November 23rd is called "Kinro Kansha no Hi". It is the equivalent of our fall Thanksgiving Day. Kinro Kansha no Hi is an expression of thanksiving to one another for work done throughout the year.

From myself and all of the instructors here at Castle Rock AIKIDO, we wish you and your family a wonderful Thanksgiving Day holiday. Kinro Kansha no Hi !!!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Politeness is Power, an Unexpected Connection


A Critical Review of the Classic Samurai Text: Bushido, The Soul of Japan by Inazo Nitobe


Part 5: Politeness (Rei), Politeness is Power in Repose


Article by Sean Hannon



We continue to explore Bushido's major principles, concepts, and values as articulated in the classic 1899 Japanese text, Bushido: The Soul of Japan, by Inazo Nitobe, and evaluate their applicability in today's modern world. Bushido: The Soul of Japan is one of the first major works on samurai ethics and Japanese culture. It is considered by some to be the first collective statement of what is commonly referred to as the Seven Virtues of Bushido.

Nitobe offers for consideration seven virtues of Bushido that attempt to illustrate the philosophical values of the samurai. However, it should be recognized that there are not, in truth, seven virtues of Bushido. This is only Nitobe's subjective articulation of samurai culture and it is little more than an artificial construct. Other academics like Nitobe or practitioners of Bushido could easily and perhaps in an equally comprehensively fashion offer four, ten, or even one-hundred virtues of Bushido. Furthermore, the seven virtues presented here are concentric. That is, each value overlaps with and is influenced by another. No single virtue of Bushido exists or can exist by itself. Remember, all systems, including Bushido, Aikido, or any other, are ultimately artificial. The holistic nature of any system of values is unlikely to be comprehensively articulated in written language. Some virtues transcend written word. Nonetheless, we will attempt to explore each thoroughly.

To read more, visit the main article here.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Beyond Golden Clouds: Japanese Screens




Student Visits Japanese Art Exhibit in Chicago




In September, Castle Rock AIKIDO student, Sean Hannon, was stuck in Chicago during a layover and had just barely enough time to pop into The Art Institute of Chicago to visit their featured exhibit on decorative, Japanese Screens called: Beyond Golden Clouds.

It was a powerful exhibit with perhaps nearly one hundred different, folding Japanese screens called "byōbu" from as far back as the 15th century. Although photography was not permitted, the exhibit still left visitors with a profound appreciation for this long time, traditional artwork.

Like many Japanese arts and crafts, folding screens originated in China; prototypes dating back to the Han dynasty have been found. The term "byōbu" means figuratively "protection from wind", which suggests that the original purpose of byōbu was blocking drafts. Byōbu were introduced in Japan in the eighth century, when Japanese craftsmen started making their own byōbu, highly influenced by Chinese patterns.

Read more about the Golden Clouds exhibit HERE.

Also at the museum, unrelated to the Golden Clouds exhibit, was a more modest, but equally moving, Japanese art exhibit. In the Asian arts wing of the museum was a beautiful exhibit exclusively feating the works of Japanese woodblock print artist, Ito Shinsui (1898-1972). Shinsui was one of the great names of the shin hanga art movement, which revitalized the traditional wookblock style art after it began to decline with the advent of photography in the early 20th century. Shinsui is best known for his numerous, reflective portraits of Japanese women, but his seasonal landscape are equally captivating and were also featured in this exhibit.

The exhibit's summary sign stated that Frank Lloyd Wright was greatly inspired by the works of Shinsui. In fact, one of Shinsui's most famous pieces, Before the Mirror, (pictured above) is soon to be hung in our dojo lobby.

Learn more about Ito Shinsui HERE.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Review of the Seven Virtues of Samurai Bushido text, part 3: Courage

Part Three: Courage - Doing the Hard Thing

We continue to explore Bushido's major principles, concepts, and values as articulated in the classic 1899 Japanese text, Bushido: The Soul of Japan, by Inazo Nitobe, and evaluate their applicability in today's modern world. Bushido: The Soul of Japan is one of the first major works on samurai ethics and Japanese culture. It is considered by some to be the first collective statement of what is commonly referred to as the Seven Virtues of Bushido.

Nitobe offers for consideration seven virtues of Bushido that attempt to illustrate the philosophical values of the samurai. However, it should be recognized that there are not, in truth, seven virtues of Bushido. This is only Nitobe's subjective articulation of samurai culture and it is little more than an artificial construct. Other academics like Nitobe or practitioners of Bushido could easily and perhaps in an equally comprehensively fashion offer four, ten, or even one-hundred virtues of Bushido. Furthermore, the seven virtues presented here are concentric. That is, each value overlaps with and is influenced by another. No single virtue of Bushido exists or can exist by itself. Remember, all systems, including Bushido, Aikido, or any other, are ultimately artificial. The holistic nature of any system of values is unlikely to be comprehensively articulated in written language. Some virtues transcend written word. Nonetheless, we will attempt to explore each thoroughly.

Read the full article here.