Ono-ha Itto-ryu Kenjutsu in Gradara Italy

Published on October 31, 2015 by in News


ohir-italyIn June 2015, Carl Long, Hanshi, Kako Lee, Renshi, and I had the chance to visit beautiful Gradara, Italy to attend an Ono Ha Itto Ryu Kenjutsu seminar with Takemi Sasamori, Soke. On this particular occasion, Kawakami Sensei and Asai Sensei accompanied Sasamori Soke to assist in the instruction. It was a very intense seminar in which we received meticulous instruction in the first 25 kumitachi, and closing the training with all participants being asked to perform an Enbu in which we had to choose to demonstrate either the first kumitachi or the next ten kumitachi, demonstrating both the shikata and uchikata roles.

As an aside, we were extremely thrilled to that Soke was making a trip to Europe for the third year in a row. I was able to train under his guidance in Italy in 2013, and then again in June of 2014 in Pforzheim, Germany. Yabuki Sensei and Sekiguchi Sensei accompanied him for that particular seminar, during which we trained intensively if the first 15 kumitachi.

Long Hanshi and Lee Renshi flew from the United States to Ireland where the took a connection to Bologna, Italy. I flew from Brussels, Belgium where I met up with them for the 90 minute drive to Gabicce Mare, where we stayed in a hotel 300 feet away from the beautiful Adriatic Sea. In the evening we went to Gradara Castle for dinner at a pizzeria where we were warmly welcomed by some members of Ono Ha Itto Ryu Italy.

The seminar itself , which proved to be a very intensive four days of training, began on Friday. As was the case two years prior, there was a wonderful feeling shared between all the participants. It is difficult to describe the feelings that we had due to warm way in which our Italian hosts welcomed us; it was as if we were long-lost family member who they had dearly missed.

Over the course of the seminar, everything was explained in Japanese and at the same time simultaneously translated into both Italian and English by Koji Watanabe Sensei.

On Friday we received in-depth instruction in kihon and the first ten kumitachi, training in temperatures of 35° C (95°F). Within minutes our keikogi were thoroughly soaked. We trained from 9:00 a.m. to 6:15 p.m., and were completely exhausted by the end of the day. On Saturday after warming up (as if that was necessary with the scorching heat!) and reviewing the first ten kumitachi, Sasamori Soke provided instruction in the kumitachi from 11 to 24. Once again, we were exhausted from a day of training that went from 9:00 a.m. to 6:15 p.m..

We then took part in a special reception and a dinner with Sasamori Soke. At the dinner Long Hanshi was invited to sit beside Soke at his table. The rest of us mingled with the other participants who had come from coming from the Belgium, Germany, Ireland, Macedonia, Switzerland, the United States, and of course, Italy.

Sunday was the grand finale of the seminar, during which we practiced the kumitachi from 25 to 50. This was absolute unique that the full series was shown outside of Japan! Following this, all participants performed embu for Sasamori Soke’s review.

To say that this seminar was rigourous is a great understatement. To quote Ishizaki Sensei, “the training was inhuman” and if you compare it to the seminar two years earlier, during which we received training in the first 25 kumitachi over the course of three days (with much lower temperatures!), you probably understand that training 50 kumitachi in four days, especially with such hot weather, is simply brutal on the body and mind! As evidence, all one had to do was to look at the feet of many of the participants, whose soles and toes were taped up because of extensive blistering!

It goes without saying that this was yet again a unique budo experience, and we look forward to further training opportunities with Sasamori Soke in the future. Although Sasamori Soke has indicated that he will not do much intercontinental travel in the future, plans are already set for him to teach another seminar in Europe next year, this time returning to Pforzheim, Germany.

I want to thank the people of Ono-ha Itto Ryu Italia once again for being such wonderful hosts. I also would like to thank Long Hanshi and Lee Renshi for the good time we had together, and last but not least, all the participants and the partners I worked with who helped me get through so many kumitachi.

I look forward to training in the coming months with with the people from the Belgium Ono-ha Itto Ryu Keikojo, as well and Andre Otome from Germany (who lived in Japan for eight years, training with Sasamori Soke) to keep polishing my practise of Ono-ha Itto Ryu. There is only one way to improve: practice, practice, practice, and afterwards………… more practice.  And I’m looking forward meeting some of you at an event somewhere in the world in the near future!

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