Sunday, May 07, 2006

Martial Arts at the Faire

Contrary to popular belief, I did not spend the entire day at the Martial Arts pavillion at the Renaissance Faire yesterday. See, here I'm being blessed by a fairy!

But I did end up seeing all three demonstrations by the local Samurai Arts dojo, the Jade Tiger Dojo.

The first demo started soon after we got there. I sat next to Mindy, from TKD! It was nice to see her. After the demo, I talked to a few students and expressed my interest in seeing bojitsu. Cassie, a student at Jade Tiger, was happy to talk to me and glad to answer some of my questions. She pointed out that the bo was often used by women, historically.

"The men would go off to war and take the swords with them," she said. "So women had to be ready to defend themselves with whatever was available." Interesting!

"I'll let them know you're interested in seeing bojitsu, and they'll be sure to use bo in the next demo," she told me. "Come back at 2:30."

So I did.

The demo began with sword forms, with the students using "bokken" (sticks) to practice. I found as I took pictures that taking pictures really distracted me from watching. So these are my only photos, of the sensei's daughter doing a sword form.

After sword forms, they brought out the staffs to practice bojitsu, which looks a lot like Aikido to me. It uses flowing graceful movements to block and even throw opponents. But the 6' bo staff is used instead of hands. The bo was also used to strike or stab opponents.

After that demo, I had lots of questions, and I got to talk to the sensei. (Do you say "the sensei" like "the professor"? Or is it only a term of address more like Mr. or Ms.?)

He talked with me and some others for quite a while. I had lots of questions! This is some of what I learned:
*The students at this dojo do not compete in tournaments. Their "samurai arts" approach is so unusual--and very traditional--that there are few other places where students learn these arts in the same way.
*They do no free-sparring with swords, not even with bokken! For obvious reasons, if you think about it.
*Ki-haps in Aikido are different from those in TKD. In TKD, the ki-hap either ends with a consonant or is glottal (sound is stopped by the glottis) to tighten the diaphragm for hitting or being hit. This is because we use them in striking, blocking, and kicking, where there's a definite end point to your energy.

In Aikido, the ki-ais end with a vowel, in order to let the sound continue on, just as the energy continues until the opponent hits the ground.

It was fun to learn new things talking with the Jade Tiger group. I'm thinking I might get out there sometime. Maybe I'll take Robbie to their summer "camp" this summer. Here he is in "sword" fights with his friend Jacob and then with one of the young Jade Tiger students.

Or--maybe, someday, I'll go there to learn bojitsu.

No comments: