While there wasn't much opportunity to take notes during the group sessions, the Shimpan Overview by Aoki sensei provided clear expectations and responsibilities for everyone present. Each note is actually just a quote taken from Aoki sensei's speeches.
Again, these quotes are only available because of the hard work of Hanna in writing and translating for all of us foreigners. I've included a heading before each note to provide context for each piece of instruction. Feel free to ask questions in the comments below.
On Attending Seminars
- "The purpose is not simply to attend, but to listen, think, and practice. By practicing the knowledge becomes a part of you"
- "Judging seminars are where one learns to ascertain and distinguish between what's right and what's wrong"
- "An Iaidoka is unable to see beyond their own ability, so it is the responsibility of those above him/her to correct any errors in judgment and fill the knowledge gap. The leaders are accountable for the failings of those below them. In a taikai, this person is the Shimpan-Cho.
- "Who has the latest manual?" - only a few hands go up - "The FIRST step is to look around and see what the latest requirements are, and to know them inside-out. That is one of the most important responsibilities of being a judge"
- "Learning is not just through the body, but the mind as well, through thinking. If you do not think, it's mindless practice. It's nothing."
- "If you only learn the form and not use kokoro (heart/mind) then you are basically doing nothing"
- "The instructors/leaders must always show the correct way. Whether that is in their Iai or even in their manners" - two examples were given:
- Ex 1 - If sensei are not sitting in seiza when necessary and in the correct way, the students will not.
- Ex 2 - In a taikai, if the shu-shin (head judge) is not calling out the correct go-rei (i.e. Hantei, Gogi, Shobu-ari), then the other judges will make the same mistake.
- "If Tokyo doesn't put forth the energy and effort, the rest of Japan will not improve and become united."
- "Although Iaido is something you learn on your own, when you go to Taikai and Gradings, you are judged by others. So you must follow your teacher and they must follow theirs, all the way to the top."
- "In order for the event to run smoothly, the scorekeepers, timekeepers, ushers, and other staff must be really organized."
- "Everyone including the participants, judges, and seminar staff must be able to act and move quickly and exhibit Meri-hari. They must also have Rinkyohen: Ability to react to any situation correctly and in a timely fashion.
- Ex 1 - After the "shobu-ari" call, many shu-shin tend not to look at the court, but they must also display zanshin because even when the challengers are backing up, something could happen. Someone could get hurt.
- Ex 2 - The fuku-shin (sub judges) should be able to act faster than the shu-shin. If they notice a reason to call gogi, they should be able to call it before the shu-shin.
Aoki Sensei also kept mentioning page 34 in the Iaido Manual (Japanese version) regarding "Mindset during Embu". We'll see if we can get that translated later.
Finally, we also received some words of wisdom from Hatakenaka sensei who lead our group (4 dan and below):
- "A 4th dan must not think of 5th dan as simply the next grade to achieve. With the rank also lies the responsibility in judging, and be an example for the lower ranks. You must have this mindset when training for 5th dan. "
- "The basics are more important the higher level you get. When I was preparing for 8 dan, I had to go back and really work on the basics. Even now, that is where most of my focus is"
Up Next: Four Key Points for Judging by Aoki Sensei