Beginners Instruction Guidance

by Roald Knutsen and several senior Yudansha 

One of the most troublesome of subjects in the proper martial arts is the best way to teach complete novices from their very first experience in their chosen dojo. The problem is not the new student but the method of teaching him or her and ensuring that those doing the teaching know what they are about. In other words, are these ‘seniors’ aware of what is required and how to go about it? It is of the greatest importance to the whole dojo membership that mistakes and errors don’t become established. Shakespeare put it quite clearly when he wrote: ‘When sorrows come, they come not single spies, but in battalions’ – and he was absolutely right. Mistakes not corrected from Day One will plague the student even thirty or forty years in the future – and will always be a handicap to progress. All the masters of Kendo and Iai-jutsu that I and my fellow seniors have had the good fortune to  their instruction, have followed one set of principles throughout their own careers: basicsbasicsbasics – and when fed up with them – yet more basics!

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In Memory of Reg Winnall

It is with regret that I have to let you know about the passing of Reg Winnall in December last year “at the grand old age of 97” in the words of his friend Terry Brough. Reg was a keen budo-ka of several decades standing. He practiced Judo in Stafford in the 1960’s, which led to Aikido, including a seminar with Koichi Tohei sensei when he visited the UK (Reg managing to capture the sessions on film). This in turn sparked an interest in chi/ki that he stayed with him for the remainder of his life and partly explains his fluid ashi-waza. 

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Understanding Kata – part two

Continued from part one.

One of the purposes of this article when first written, was to ‘open a window on the past’ and a mere recital of uncertain facts is no real way to do this. Who is really ‘livened up’ by dry as dust academic history other that some specialists? I was going to recount the historical background of the Kashima Shinto-ryu and the famous master, Tsukahara Bokuden, but will keep this back for a separate article on this Renmei Website in the coming months. We have a number of records, some fragmented, concerning this remarkable warrior but we must freely acknowledge that he was an undoubted genius and, despite his background in the bloody strife of his lifetime, he lived through most of the extreme virtual anarchy of the ‘Age of War’ throughout the first three-quarters of the Sixteenth Century, and his legacy is still very much with us today, more than five-hundred years after his death. His passing, in itself, is remarkable as he died in his bed at the age of eighty-two – and for a samurai of his time that was very unusual, indeed.

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