Recently, members of our iaido class made the trek to Fargo, North Dakota, for the iaido seminar hosted by Anderson, sensei, and the Agassiz dojo. Pam Parker, sensei, (iaido nanadan) of New York’s Ken Zen dojo, once again led the seminar.
Xanto putting up a fight.
In order to complete the seven-hour land journey from Nebraska to the seminar, we first had to cross through a spring blizzard that had been named “Xanto” by the weather service. Xanto was an intimidating storm that was not to be taken lightly, and at times reduced road conditions down to zero visibility. Eventually, Xanto’s blowing and accumulating snow and sleet caused closure of Interstate 29, and one of our members was stranded at a filling station and had to wait out the storm overnight in his car.
Clearing the north edge of Xanto
However, by the next day, our members arrived in Fargo and were suited up, swords oiled and on the training floor ready to go. On the floor as well were members of Des Moines Iaido, including their leader, Flinn sensei. Their drive to the seminar had been even longer than our own.
Parker sensei shared numerous insights and details regarding Seitei iaido - the twelve standardized forms of the All Japan Kendo Federation. However, Parker sensei also discussed the equally (and some would say “more”) important topic of etiquettes and courtesies found in Būdō, which go beyond the opening and closing formalities of our practice. A major point being that these qualities should permeate everything we do, in the course of our practice. It was noted that higher level senseis would be able to see the presence or absence of these qualities in our actions. Similarly, to such an informed eye, our individual personalities would be revealed in our execution of the forms.
That’s something to think about both on and off the dojo floor.
The seminar was well worth the drive required to attend it. Our sincere thanks to Parker and Anderson senseis, and to the Agassiz Dojo for their time and efforts that made it a top-notch training.
For more information about Parker sensei, please read her excellent article, courtesy of George M. and Kenshi 24/7: