Jodo Stage at Vienna with Wil and Kees Bruggink

November, 23rd and 24th 2013

Isshin Denshin
(Mutual understanding, heart to heart transmission)
What the mind thinks the heart transmits.

"Classical budo education is based on the concept of self-activity. This is a creative kind of activity that seeks, discovers, realizes, and produces results. The trainee must establish a readiness for training. That means he must feel a need for training as something essential to his life. Simply watching the performance of the techniques, discussing them, or writing, reading about them is a mere circle around the technical perimeter of budo.
Nyunan-shin, or "soft-heartedness", a certain flexibility of spirit, a readiness to accept things as they are presented by the teacher. The lack of this quality is indicative of pride and ego, and can lead to a mental friction between student and teacher.
That's why Isshin Denshin is important, the teacher knows when the student has the right frame of mind, to start serious training." *

It is my feeling that a lot of valuable lessons can only be learned by direct transmission: heart-to-heart. Having the teacher in front of you is the best - some say the only way - to go deeper.
Direct, personal training is not easy to arrange on a stage with 25 participants and two teachers. None-the-less, we wanted to break away from the usual practice of the teacher demonstrating in front of the group and then going around to give advice and corrections.
According to the theme of the stage, we dedicated the four hours we had planned for Saturday afternoon to individual training.

However, the morning session was held in the traditional way, but with concentration on uchi-komi - the "basics of the basics". I enjoy these long practice sessions where we can focus on the simple things, that are still not easy to do well. As Kees Sensei pointed out: "It's essential to know these techniques. If you have 20 kata that include a hiki-otoshi and you can do the hiki-otoshi well, there is at least one thing that you get right in all of them."

After lunch break in a traditional Austrian restaurant we started the session with a short explanation of Isshin Denshin. Then Kees and Wil took turns with each of the participants. Every student had to choose what he wanted to practice with the teacher and I believe everyone was content about this chance for intensive training and personal corrections.
The rest of the group paired up for free practice. Every 15 minutes a general "yame" was called. While the next two trainees were getting their turn, partners could be changed or practice continued.
The last half hour was used to wrap up the day with a general session focusing on some common difficulties that had been noticed during the turns: tsuki in omote, but especially timing. Kees Sensei introduced us to a new ken exercise to practice to "stay until the last moment."

It had been a concentrated and arduous afternoon for everyone, but especially for our teachers. So, we were delighted to let the evening end in our favourite Japanese restaurant, joined by almost all of the participants who stayed for the second day.

Sunday morning was started with sotai kihon in a slightly smaller setting, since some of our guests could only join on the first day. Again, there were little explanations in front of the whole group, but a lot of personal corrections given by Kees as he passed from pair to pair. The morning session finished with half an hour of ran-ai while the people not in this series had a chance to receive a new kata or kihon from Wil or Kees.

After a short lunch break with a buffet provided by the organizers, we continued for another three hours. The afternoon session was split into half, first for kenjutsu with some exercises and a detailed look on two kata of shinto ryu. The second half was again dedicated to the newest kata of the participants. For some this meant learning a new one, others received corrections for their latest techniques.

FEJ members had joined us from Germany, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Switzerland, as well as a guest from a Seitei-Jo dojo from the south of Austria. A productive, open-minded and friendly atmosphere ruled throughout the whole week-end. We were happy to receive enthusiastic praise, which of course can only be attributed to our wonderful teachers.
I hope we can continue to discover new ways to make direct, personal training possible on our future stages and I'm looking forward to the Kagami Biraki to see how the theme will turn out there.

We want to extend our thanks to Kees and Wil for their energy, their patient corrections, their friendship and their passion for our art. I'm also grateful to our guests and the members of our group for their concentrated participation. I hope you will join us (again) next spring with Michel and next fall with Wil and Kees.

ヘルガ (for the VJK Ronin Wien)

* Extract from a text about Isshin Denshin by Kees Bruggink (based on teachings of Donn F. Draeger)