The second annual Sakura No Kaze (“cherry-blossom wind”) seminar was held in Surrey, BC, just outside Vancouver, on May 14/15. Bill Brown and I team-taught for the two days, alternating back and forth, sharing lessons that we’ve learned from our time in Japan training under Hatsumi Sensei. This included both unarmed taijutsu techniques as well as variations with the sword and the 6-foot bo staff. We also taught techniques from both the perspective of a defender using the technique against an aggressor, and also from the perspective of having the technique applied to you by someone else, turning the technique back upon them (this is known as kaeshi-waza, 返し技).
The turn-out was very good despite the threat of rain, and although it did rain at times over the two days, there were hot, sunny breaks as well – a nice smattering of variable Vancouver weather. As many Vancouver-area Bujinkan groups do, we were training outside. At times, training jackets came off because it was getting hot, and at other times those training jackets were dripping with mud. The Vancouver groups are used to training outdoors in all sorts of weather. I had the same experience in my 5 years of training in Vancouver before moving to Japan – sun, rain, snow, mud, concrete, gravel, ice – we trained on and in it all.
It was so encouraging to see many old friends and new ones as well, the new generation who have come up the ranks in the 19 years since I began my training in the area. At the time I think there were only 2 or 3 Bujinkan black belts in BC. The Bujinkan community was very isolated from Japan. Few made the trip to Japan for training, and there were swindlers around who would take advantage of people’s ignorance, keeping them in the dark and taking their membership and grading fees and issuing their own certificates and membership cards instead of the official ones that are supposed to come from the Bujinkan office in Japan. Over time, people began to see other instructors and make their own trips to Japan, aided by the spread of information via the Internet since the mid-90′s. Now there are many instructors who have taken groups of students to Japan to train with Sensei, and the exposure of more instructors to the training in Japan has, over time, resulted in a much greater skill level than existed in the province when I first started out. It’s good to see – relationships between local training groups have developed and people are cooperating on hosting and organizing events and showing up to support each others’ seminars. Such inter-group cooperation was rare back in the ’90s. I felt a great sense of happiness when I thought of this as I looked around at the faces of the participants as the seminar came to a close. The Bujinkan in Western Canada has come such a long way, due to people’s efforts and sacrifice, and is developing it’s own history, one that I’m proud to be a small part of.
It was great to have the honour to be invited to teach here again.
Namaste, Arigatou, Keep Going!