Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending a seminar of Onoha Ittō Ryū given by Soke Sasamori Takemi in Gradara Italy. A very interesting experience and a really lovely group to train with. In and out of the Dojo.
A month ago during the Budo Springs in Verona I met some students of OHIR. I was given a brief introduction to the system and became intrigued. I felt a need to explore the school more. Valentino told me that the Head of the school was making his annual trip to Europe soon, this time to Italy. I organised myself and went along. The trip over was less than fun. I had to spend Thursday night in Stansted Airport, and got little sleep. Two flights and a train ride later I arrived at Cattolica. Waiting to greet and take me to the training where Claudio and Mirco, both in keikogi and hakama. Mirco I had met in Verona last month and Claudio just then. We arrive at the Dojo with training already in full swing. It was about 4 o clock so I was quite late. After a introduction to Soke, I began training. I worked on Kamae and the first Kata for this training. I was extremely tired already when I arrived, but I tried my best. I was probably even less coherent than usual, but it was really touching how patient everyone I trained with was.
The feeling among this group was very positive. People came from Japan, Germany, Belgium, United States, Italy to train together with the Soke. Despite living so far apart, it really felt like the extension of one Dojo. I was one of 5 beginners at this course, and happy to say I didn’t feel that I was slowing anyone down as everyone I trained with had a good attitude towards training.
After a good meal, some wine and a decent nights sleep I was in better spirits to focus my attention on training. The training started the same way each day. With Rei, Warm up, Suburi, Kamae practice. The Reishiki is of intense importance to the School and is quite unique I think. You face your partner in Seigan and lower the bokken together till on the ground overlapping a few inches. Sitting back into Seiza we bow to each other. Timing is of great importance to this. This is done at the beginning and the end of practice. The rest of the time, the rei is performed by subtly lowering the hips. Soke cares about the Reishiki of his school and had us repeat this a few times till he was satisfied.
The first principle of OHIR Kenjutsu is Kiriotoshi. This is the basic cut and the first kata. Stepping into the attack a fraction later and gaining the centre line and raising again with forward pressure cutting again. Stepping into the attack was a lot to get used too, but there is something very liberating about this also. The movements of this school are relaxed and natural, and yet the pressure of a sword raising forward towards the neck is oddly unsettling. This is however what attracted me to this school in the first place. Both the intensity and the relaxed nature of OHIR make it very interesting and also enjoyable.
photos taken by Nao Ishiyama
Saturday evening we had a meal all together. I think we where in Pesaro, but Iam not quite sure. We where in restaurant on a beach. After a couple of hours of eating from a continually replenished buffet there were a few speeches given by the organisers and Sasamori Soke, Asai sensei and Ishizaki sensei. This was all very heart felt. Everyone was thanked for their attendance and for helping making the weekend a success. The Soke spoke of being happy that people where continuing to practice. He had also brought along a Print he had made from a piece of his own calligraphy. He had one for each student. Which simply says ‘Itto’ along with the symbol of the school. I very much look forward to training Onoha Ittō Ryū again.