An Interview with Matsuo Haruna

Goyo Ohmi and Kim Taylor, 1994.

In 1990, Goyo Ohmi was invited to England to practice with Matsuo Haruna, a Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu Iaido instructor (sensei) who had been teaching regular seminars in that country for several years. As a result of that meeting, the University of Guelph Iaido club invited Haruna sensei to Canada the next year. 1994 marked the fourth visit of Haruna sensei to Canada and that year we took the opportunity to interview him.

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I am a deshi
Written by: Hasuda Tomoka 1st year Junior high school student (approx. 13yrs old) Miyazaki prefecture, Miyazaki city, Shujakukan dojo

Photo courtesy of Rob Visser
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Ishido Sensei – Iaido shinsain no me

20. August 2012

Article from the book The Eyes of the Iaido Shinsa – 2009

Can you perform “Ni-ku, San-ke”? Devote yourself to acquiring Shu

Profile of Ishido Shizufumi Hanshi: Born in 1945 in Kawasaki City, Kanagawa Prefecture. On graduating from Nihon University, he joined Chiyoda Glass. Left the company in December 1976, after which he devoted himself to teaching at Shinbukan Ishido Dojo. Started practicing Iaido in 1955 with his father, Ishido Sadataro. Won the 7th dan division in the National Iaido Championship. Currently holds the positions of Deputy Head of the Kanagawa Prefecture Iaido Division and Head of the Shinbukan Ishido Dojo. Attained 8th dan in Iaido in 1994, and became Hanshi in 2006. Also holds Kyoshi 7th dan in Kendo, and Kyoshi 8th dan in Jodo.

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Level 2 Coach Award - Just how bad is a seminar for you?
Name: Hugh Darby
Dojo: Shonenjiku
Title: Just how bad is a seminar for you?
Date: Sept 2011- Level 2 Coach Award

If you do both iaido and jodo, you may be faced once a year with a six day summer seminar. Across those days you might have four 6-8 hour days and a couple of half-days of practice. You may have a competition for each discipline and / or gradings in there as well. Other than the summer seminars, there are weekend seminars that are slightly less gruelling, but still typically mean a full 6-8 hour practice on the Saturday followed by a Sunday morning practice and a grading in the afternoon.

A looking at the BKA directory of clubs and club times suggests that the majority of us train perhaps a couple of times a week, for 1-2 hours each time. And that assumes we don’t have jobs, families, holidays and so on that prevent our attending from time to time.

So, for most of us, seminars represent a step change in our level of iaido and/or jodo activity. And the number one thing that every book on sports training principles says is that sudden and significant changes in exercise duration and intensity are one of the worst things to do.

I’m sure we all know from our own experiences that attending a summer seminar in particular can be a very painful experience. In this paper I’ll explore some of the main physical issues and how we should manage them as students and as coaches.

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Soke: Historical Incarnations of a Title and its Entitlements

By William M. Bodiford (from

Who or what is a soke? If Internet websites can be believed, in the English-speaking world the Japanese word soke has become a title for individuals who claim to be "great grandmasters" or "founders" of martial arts.1 Surprisingly, however, the term is not explained in recent Englishlanguage dictionaries of martial arts directed toward general readers, nor in the more authoritative books about Japanese martial culture.2 Apparently this very obscurity provides commercial advantage when it is invoked in a competitive marketplace crowded with instructors who promote themselves not just as high-ranking black belts, but as masters or even grandmasters. This English-language usage stands in stark contrast to the connotations of the word soke in Japan where, if it is used at all, it strongly implies loyalty to existing schools, deference to ancestral authority, and conservative adherence to traditional forms. Despite what many seem to believe in the West, as a Japanese word soke has never meant "founder," nor does it mean "grandmaster."

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Sword Polishing Techniques Unique to Japan

When swords are displayed in museums outside of Japan, they are probably hung on the wall crossed. When swords are displayed in Japan, they are in cases with special lighting so that the viewer can see the hamon (differentially hardened edge) and the jigane (the folded outer steel of the blade). This is where swords of Japan differ from the rest of the world. They are not just sharpened and burnished; they undergo a specialized polishing process called kenma.

Taken from here
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The Japanese Sword Law & Export / Import of Swords From / Into Japan by C.U. Guido Schiller

Application of the sword law and related topics

In order to legally own a sword in Japan it has to be registered in accordance with the Ju-tô-hô 銃 刀法 (Japanese Firearms and Sword Law). This applies to both antique and newly made swords (Shinsakutô 新作刀). Exempted are blades under 15 cm (5.9 inches), and Iaitô / Mogitô (training and decorative swords made from a zinc-aluminum alloy that can't be sharpened). Presently about 2.3 million swords are registered in Japan.

Extracted from the origional article here
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An excellent article by George McCall discussing a very important aspect of Budo which is often overlooked. The original can also be read here.
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Working Towards a Coherent and Cohesive Teaching Approach

(Revised article submitted for BKA Level 2 Coaching Award: Sept 2011)

by: John Honisz-Greens - Edinburgh Genbukan & Kobe Genbukan

Introduction: Many good teachers are able to plan on the spot and pull together whatever is at hand to make their lessons work, sometimes ‘picking and mixing’ seemingly disparate approaches, methods, techniques and activities to aid learning. However, for this ‘eclectic fusion’ to be effective, (rather than being unplanned, random and confused) it needs to be underpinned by a clear and sound understanding of the fundamental principles behind various teaching practices. Unfortunately, most people who find themselves in the position of being a teacher of Iaido or indeed any type of Budo; regardless of their nationality be it Japanese, British, North American or other, are untrained as teachers and have a questionable grasp of the methodology involved in effective pedagogy. As a result this can lead to dull, confused, repetitive and unplanned lessons that are often lacking coherence or cohesion.

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