JAPANESE SWORD DOJO - Ten Shin Ryu
THE TSUNAMI YODOKAN
Hello, and welcome to the Tenshin Ryu web page! My name is Alex Selvey and I train with Kyoshi Mike Selvey at Tsunami Yodokan School of Budo. I hope what you read here is informative and interesting.
I am 16 and currently graded 3rd Kyu and at the time of writing this, I am 2 weeks away from my next grading. I have trained with my father and Sensei, Mike Selvey for a little over 2 years now. From him I have learnt Iaido, Kobudo and unarmed techniques. I also studied Judo when I was a child, and have now started again, learning from Sensei Blake, another Yodokan Sensei. I help out at the club by producing posters to advertise seminars, handing out drinks at break and setting up Kamiza each night.
I decided to start learning Iaido as a way to curb my anger problems and to try and make me a better person in the eyes of myself and others around me. I also did it to try and make my father and teacher, Sensei Selvey proud. I hope in these past 2 years I have achieved at least one of these things.
I have attended Yodokan seminars in England and Wales with Hanshi Wayne Taylor, and Federation of Iai School seminars in Sussex with Kyoshi Dave Ansell. Because of this I have trained with many great Sensei and learned much from them. But to me, none compare to the teachers of the club I belong to, Tsunami Yodokan; Kyoshi Mike Selvey, Renshi Charlie Golding, Doshi Geoff Murray, and Doshi Glenn Coxon. To me, none could be better teachers and guides on my own road to enlightenment.
As well as the instructors, the students of Tsunami Yodokan really give the club its own welcoming feeling and make it such a great place to train. I mean, who would want to train in a club where you dont like your fellow students? On average we have between 7 and 14 people per night, and when you get a full class things can get a bit tricky, considering size of the hall and the space people need is extended by the length of their sword, bokken or whatever they happen to be training with.
I get a lot out of each training session. Each time I pick up my sword I know Im taking one step more along the path that I have chosen, and with that step I can see a little clearer the direction in which my whole life is heading. Its also great to see myself progress from not being able to do something, to being able to do that thing well. And when I train with other people, not only do I get to see my own progress, but I get to see others progress as well. And thats great because I can see what direction I need to take to get to where they are now, I can ask them questions about things I dont understand or that Im not sure about, but I can also look back at my mistakes, and help others by explaining my faults and trying to keep them from repeating the same mistake.
But I also train on my own. I am fortunate that my house has a garden in which I can train alone. When I do step outside, I become more aware of myself and every little movement I take. I criticize every form, and rarely walk away happy. I am my own worst critic. But at other times I can flow really well and my sword becomes an extension of myself, as it should be. I can move from cut to cut seamlessly and get a real feeling of joy inside, knowing that I can do this, and that I am so fortunate to be doing what I do.
At this moment in time, I have only 2 years until I go to university (hopefully). In these 2 short years I hope to have attained my Dan grade in Iaido, which will be no mean feat. To attain a Dan grade In Tenshin Ryu, one must teach several half hour sections of classes, and know all 29 forms, Tachi and Seiza, one must know both the Katana and Wakazashi katas, perform the Tsukino kyu dan kai ( The 9 phases of the moon), execute a form of ones own devising, and one must write an essay on Kyushindo, and what it means to them.
Lets just see if I can get to 2nd Kyu
-- Alex Selvey
I have decided to add an article about the grading at Tsunami Yodokan on the 4th September 07. To my knowledge, no-one at the club, nor any other Yodkan member has ever written abut this subject. Gradings at Tsunami Yodokan are special events to us, that only happen 3 or 4 times a year. Each one consists of several parts that altogether decide wether you pass or fail. You start off by naming parts of the sword, in Japanese. The lower the grade you are wishing to attain, the less names you have to know, but its always best to say as many as you can to try and give the examiner a better idea of how much you really know.
The next thing you need to do is the Tsuki No Kyu Dan Kai, which translates as the nine phases of the moon. This is not a form nor is it a kata, it is nine movements that are performed in such a way as to show your prowess and confidence with a katana and give the examiner an idea as to where exactly you are and how far you have come.
After this you perform your forms. There are 29 forms in total,16 standing and 13 kneeling and depending on the grade you wish to attain, you are required to perform a certain number of them. For 6th Kyu you need to perform only 4 forms, 2 standing (Tachi) and 2 kneeling (Seiza), and small mistakes are allowed. But for 3rd Kyu you need to perform all 29, and without too many little mistakes.
For Shodan (1st Dan) you need to perform all 29 forms perfectly, perform both the Katana and the Wakazashi Kata, write an article on Kyushindo philosophy and name all of the parts of the sword.
This past grading, 6 People from Tsunami Yodokan graded, with 4 passes. Congratulations to Nick Efreme who attained his Shodan. Nick has been with us for about 2 ½ years now, and he is an excellent student and a great friend.
Today as I write it is Hanshi Otani Tomios birthday. He would have been 68 today. He was the teacher of my father, Kyoshi Mike Selvey and originally founded the Yodokan in the early 80s. Today me and my father it some incense at our home and trained in our garden to honour him and all past masters.
A full history of our sword style and founders can be found on the Yodokan Budo Association page.
You can now also check out the new Tsunami Yodokan Picture page, with photo's from all of Sensei Fyffe's visits to us.
What follows is an article written my Sensei Mike Selvey, reflecting on his experiences in Wales during our '07 seminar there.
Pushing the limit.
For as long as I can remember I have been fascinated by stories of extreme feats of human endurance, like the Buddhist sect that walks a forest path to the top of a mountain every day in all weathers to test the power of mind over physical pain, or the Indian Holy men who walk across burning embers with skewers piercing their skin, or the Native Americans who perform the sun dance where they Pearce their chests with hooks attached to a line which in turn is attached to a tall pole, when ready the warrior would dance until the hooks ripped from their skin, or indeed the stories of Samurai in battle who were horrifically injured but still managed to fight on to their last breath.
One such test of mind over body seems to be regularly explored by Martialists looking for answers, meditation under a freezing waterfall.
After 36 years of Martial training I have a lot of unanswered questions, probably more than I had when I was new to the path of the warrior, we train our bodies to the point of physical exhaustion and on occasion suffer sever trauma to perfect our art, but what of the mind, it is said the body must be disciplined for the mind to be set free, what does this mean, well after practising a set form over and over to the point where it becomes second nature, the body understands which muscles it takes to complete the form, only then is it no longer necessary to think of every part of the move and the mind begins to shut down, this is Mushin (no mind) the place all Martialists attempt to journey too.
If you are very lucky you have experienced the feeling of nothingness, when a move you have completed a thousand times in training is started , progresses ,and is completed with no thought and becomes a shadow in time, this is something very primitive that is seen in the animal kingdom on the plains of Africa, in the forests of North America and the oceans of the world but has been all but lost by Human kind .
Once I had experienced Mushin I needed to explore the concept, first through my art of Iaido, I strove more to shut down my mind for longer periods , the difficulty is if you think about not thinking you are indeed thinking, physical movement at speed with no thought is the goal. Meditation is imperative in this, training the mind to have no thought for increasing periods of time and enduring the physical pain connected with no movement; this is where the waterfall comes in.
The idea is that after 2 minutes of standing under a freezing torrent the body starts to shut down , starting at the extremities and moving in to the point of hypothermia, after 4 minutes it is one of 2 possibilities that keeps you under the water, either pure determination and bloody minded refusal to give in ,or using the mind in a meditative state to control the effects of these extreme conditions.
I had to try , I spoke about this at length with my good friend and colleague Hanshi Wayne Taylor of the Mushin Yodokan based in South Wales, it did not surprise me to find that he too had thought of this concept, and so the search was on , Hanshi Taylor got one of his Students to scour the waterways of South Wales for a waterfall suitable.
We spoke on several occasions, photos were taken of likely locations, and as the year progressed into winter 2 sites were found up in the mountainous area at Bryn mawr we arranged a weekend course in November of 2006 which would culminate in a visit to the waterfall where I and whoever wished would enter the falls for a minimum of 4 minutes to explore the theory.
Ten students from Tsunami Yodokan and I travelled to Hanshi Taylors Dojo on the 18th of November, we held a very successful training seminar on the Saturday and on the Sunday we were to travel to the waterfall, earlier in the week there had been concerns that there would not be enough water coming down the mountain,a very dry summer was to blame ,but as it had not stopped raining for 48 hrs prior to our visit we had a good feeling about conditions, on the Saturday the rain continued and the temperature dropped to 3 degrees there was even a brief snow shower , ideal conditions, Sunday morning after a full night of rain the temperature at 0700 was -3 at around 0900 we travelled up to Bryn mawr ,we arrived at the first site and although very picturesque and with a good flow of water ,it was a treacherous climb down to the best spot , we decided to try the second site a walk through a wooded area for about 20mins.
As we turned off the road and onto the leaf covered path you could hear the roar of water in the distance, after 10 minutes we turned off the main path and there in front of us were the falls, approx 25 feet in height, the water cascaded over huge rocks and fell to an overhang ten feet below where the water hit pushing it out from the rocks and down to the ground , here it formed a shallow stream which due to the temperature then turned to ice.
As we arrived the sun came out and formed rainbows in the water, I wore a Judo gi that I had worn in Japan when I fought at the world famous Kodokan in the 80s and the 6th Dan belt given to me by my friend and Teacher Hanshi Tudor Box a few weeks before his death in 2005,the venue was perfect , there was just the right amount of water falling, the temperature was below zero. We were able to walk straight into the falls as the depth of water in the stream was only a few inches , the sun was shining straight at the falls, it was in a heavily wooded area with ancient rock all around.
I was accompanied into the falls by Glenn Coxon Sempai at Tsunami Yodokan,, as I stepped into the force of water I found it hard to breath due to the temperature, the pressure was quite hard and I positioned myself so that the force was directed to the back of my neck as I had read this was the correct position, I assumed gassho ,hands together in a prayer position with my Buddhist beads between my hands, It was desperately cold and my first thought was that I would not last for the 5 minutes I had hoped to, then I settled ,I looked out through the water my breathing began to calm and the cold started to go , I concentrated on the sparkling water passing my face and on the rainbows, at about 4 minutes I felt nothing ,I no longer heard the roar of the falls , I saw the water in front of my face as rows of diagonal white lines, and then strange as it may seem I felt warm, I started moving my hands into the 9 Zen hand mantra used to increase Ki energy, I felt alive and charged with energy, just then I saw a fellow instructor Geoff Murray stand in front of me signalling that 5 minutes was up ,I reached across to Glenn Coxon who was to my right and he left the falls , I did not want to leave yet I wanted to see if I would feel the cold ,now that my concentration had been broken but there was no difference, I stayed another minute and then left, after returning to the bank I saw Glenn being dried and massaged ,he had found it difficult, someone then commented that I was steaming, I opened my gi jacket and I was indeed steaming, I felt fantastic, I walked back to the mini bus on a high as did Glenn , he tells me he did not sleep that night , he went over the whole experience in his mind.
It was a magical time; we have decided to make this an annual event after our winter seminar.
I would recommend it, but you must remember that this sort of trial does have a dangerous side, do as we did and have a qualified Doctor with you, just in case.
Mike Selvey Rokudan Kyoshi 2007
Firstly I'd like to apologize for not having this report up sooner, but I'm afraid I have been swamped with work at my school. Back on topic
Yodokan Wales Honbu 10th - 11th November, 2007.
Dawn broke bright and early too early for some, namely me. Up at 6AM and in the car, speeding to one of the most beautiful places Ive ever been Abercairn, South Wales. We made good time, travelling in a convoy of four cars, arriving at the Dojo at about 10:30AM.
Hanshi Taylors dojo has to be one of the prettiest dojos in the world. It is a fairly big building, an old church hall. The walls are lined with photographs of students, instructors, visitors, treasured moments captured forever. There are Japanese fans and banners, certificates, posters, and even weapons scattered all over the walls, arranged perfectly.
After greeting everyone and introducing our newer members, we got changed and onto the mat. To start with there were demonstrations of Aikido, Judo and Karate. Then it was the turn of Sensei Fyffe and Kyoshi Selvey to demonstrate the Cane. Several locks, pulls, chokes, sweeps and jabs later, I had to tag another of the students. I was completely worn out! After Sensei Fyffe beat him about with the cane as well, he decided that was enough and sat back down, not even out of breath! Then it was our clubs turn. We each displayed three forms each, without any major slip ups.
After this was a full five hours of training that just flew by. Everything that had been demonstrated we all had a go at, from wristlocks to sword, cane to pressure points. We had a lot of fun with this, especially when I and another student from Tsunami Yodokan, Richard, fought Randori using only pressure points. Painful!
So we ended that day, battered, tired and sore. Off to dinner with Sensei Fyffe, Hanshi Taylor and the guys from Wales. After that and a small misunderstanding with our B n B, our club decided to sleep in the Dojo, rather travel for miles around looking for a hotel.
After an almost good nights sleep, we picked up Sensei Fyffe from his hotel and whisked off to the location. Unfortunately Hanshi Taylor was not to join us; he was participating in Remembrance Day, laying a wreath at the memorial in the village. We parked a fair distance form the waterfall, and I was sent as a scout to go and see how it was falling. Unfortunately there had not been enough rain nowhere near as much as last time and the water coming from the falls was not enough for meditation. After reporting my findings back to the others, with much grumblings about the weather, we decided to go to the other waterfall location.
Now, this waterfall has a 30 ft drop, but the top is only about 5 ft above ground level. This meant that to get to the bottom, we had to climb down a near vertical cliff face, scattered with brambles, loose rocks and slippery with dew. This being the only way down, there was no way that Sensei Fyffe could get there safely some of our own were having enough trouble!
Everybody got ready, those that were to go under changed into their Gis, the other, not-so-brave people got cameras ready. Our doctor was on standby. Up at the top I described the scene to Sensei Fyffe, what people had to go through to get down, the scenery, peoples reactions as they went under. Of our eight club members, five went under, with me, Glenn and Dr.Geoff watching on. All those who went under managed a full five minutes in the freezing torrent, but Sensei Selvey trumped them all with an astonishing nine minutes. Show off.
And with that, our adventure in Wales ended. Everyone dried themselves, got dressed, and hopped in the cars. Destination: Home.
Heres a list off all the people from Tsunami Yodokan who went with us, followed by some pictures.
Kyoshi Mike Selvey
Doshi Geoff Murray
Doshi Glenn Coxon
Dr. Geoff Hollier
Your friend in Budo,
So here it is; the end of another year. Eventful, to say the least. Ups and downs, twists and turns, such is life. Its been a good year for us; weve gained five new members and welcomed back an old one, two of us have gained their Dan grades and weve set up another class on Saturdays which is going really well. All of our seminars went well, with nearly all of our students in attendance.
To expand upon my introduction, both Richard Jones and Nick Efreme gained their Shodans, Nick at the beginning of the year and Richard Counsell just a few weeks ago. We were delighted to welcome back Richard Jones after a one year absence. The first ever Iaijutsu grading at Tsunami Yodokan ended with both Doshi Geoff Murray and Doshi Glenn Coxon gaining their Shodans. Whilst on the topic of grading, Sensei Steve Fyffe gained his 5th Kyu, which I believe makes him the highest graded blind iaidoka in the UK. Oh, and I got my 3rd kyu earlier in the year, but failed my 2nd Kyu grading. We also welcomed four new members this year, Andy Hanlon, Kelvin Thomas, Stuart Binns Martian Spraggons and David Hornbuckle.
We have had four seminars this year, two in the Wales Honbu and Two in our Croyden Honbu. Both went well.
On the topic of Cane now, Kyoshi Mike Selvey was awarded Black Belt by Mark Shuey for his skill in the cane. Later this year he was awarded Nidan, the certificate presented to him by Sensi Steve Fyffe at the end of the November Wales 07 seminar. Speaking of which, I forgot to mention our October Seminar, which again was a huge success.
Two weeks ago was our last night at the club, so we made it special with a night of Tameshigiri. Sensei David Barrington of Barrington Swords attended, along with three of his students. It was a great night, with pieces of mat flying everywhere. Geoff decided to cut vertically through a mat and ended up with his blade halfway through the stand again. Everyone had at least one good cut by the end of the night.
Our clubs Christmas dinner was on the 11th with all of our members in attendance. The awards for the year were also presented. The bottle award, for the person who did something that took real bottle was awarded to Andy for his display in Wales. He stood up and held his own in front of some of the highest grades in the country, and this was the first time he ever used a sword. Dave gained an award for his help in promoting the club. Charlie got his for having the highest attendance. Dave Barrington was awarded Best Newcomer. Glenn was awarded for his help as Sempei for the year. And I gained one for my help every week and at seminars.
Last Tuesday our clubs venue, Shirley Community Centre, held an open day with everyone who uses the hall in attendance. We performed a demo, led by Doshi Glenn Coxon. Hopefully a little more publicity will grant us some new members.
So there you go. Another year gone, Im still here, the clubs still running. New members, new grades, old faces return, the world goes round. Unfortunately with the Sword Ban coming in next year, the time we have left may be limited. Oh, one last thing, our next grading will be on Jan 8th.
Merry Christmas to all and a happy New Year.
If you wish to contact me, here's my address: email@example.com or Reborn1000@gmail.com or firstname.lastname@example.org