An interesting essay that gives me some insight into what is going on internationally. When I began with Muso Shinden Ryu, my initial training was all based on the Omori Ryu arts, later I was introduced Hasegawa Eishin-ryu and later began exposure to Okuden and kumidachi. It was only at this point was I introduced to the Seitei gata as a separate entity meant to be an introduction to Iaido for those training in primarily in Kendo. I’ve treated just like some other sets of kata that we do that not considered truly core to MSR. So it’s always seemed a little weird when I heard of MSR groups starting with Seitei gata or that being the focus of testing. I follow what my teacher teaches who is following what his teacher taught. In this modern age, it’s not hard to view what others are doing of different lineages or different Ryu and I’ve always told students that what we do isn’t the only answer, it just fits our logic internal to our style. The idea that there is really “now two different trends in iai, one more traditional leaning towards the passing on of individual traditions and one with more modern leanings towards the creation and dissemination of world wide standards in the art.” is useful way to view it. In the global economy of ideas there isn’t really a right or wrong to this but I favor a the traditionalist view.

Acme Bugei

“Muso Madness”: A look at some of the debate surrounding koryu and modern iai through two of the art’s most popular ryuha.

By Rennis Buchner
Copyright © Rennis Buchner, 2009. Not to be used without permission

By this point it is probably beyond argument that Muso Jikiden Eishin-ryu and Muso Shinden-ryu are the overwhelming most practiced koryu iai ryuha both in Japan (with Eishin-ryu being the choice of Western Japan and Shinden-ryu being the choice of the Eastern half of the country) and

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Been two years…

It’s been two years now since I started to learn the alternate keyboard layout on my Macbook and I am still using the Colemak layout.  I love it even though my speed has stagnated at 60 wpm.   Considering I was not a touch typist before I started, that sustained speed is so far above (3x -4x faster) what I was doing it’s left me with little motivation to put in the necessary practice time to become faster. I am not someone that has to do a lot of typing for what I do so it’s easy to go a while with typing at all.  Even so, I did meet my original objective that when I do type I am able to do type fast and comfortably.

Amdur interview

Ok, it’s been a while since I have posted something on anything, iaido, piano, or Colemak keyboard layout.

I listened to this nice recorded interview of Ellis Amdur about Aikido on http://usaikido.com/ . I recommend it strongly to any aikido student and to any practitioner of martial arts in general, it’s an interesting informative interview about the nature of training and the history of aikido.

Good news is I have been getting steadily better and faster using the Colemak sometimes exceeding 50 WPM. For a former non-touch typist that is great. Definitely love the layout. While at my cousins wedding last weekend, it was painful to watch my niece slowly with many errors try to touch type using qwerty on her laptop.

Traditional Iaido practice is done on a hardwood floor. Many new students in Iaido find performing seiza waza quite uncomfortable on a wood floor. Even experienced students will probably find kata starting in tate hiza unpleasant for the left leg. Some groups regular practicing on firm tatami or canvas mats in Aikido or other jujutsu schools may attend seminars done on hardwood gym floors and find practice quite uncomfortable (I know I did!). Even those practicing on a hardwood floor may still find it a bit much to practice without protection all day over several days. The fact that there is some claims that older practitioners who have practiced for many years primarily on hard wood have more knee and other problems than those who practice on mats do may also give one pause. If you visit Japan you are pretty much guaranteed that you will be practice on a bare floor. So there is a need to find a way to take the edge of practicing the traditional way without sacrificing stability or having equipment that gets in the way during performance. I think I have found the best solution available.


I have used many different solutions over the years for extended training on hardwood floors but in my experience by far the best solution is this one. The foam is thick enough to do the job without being so thick that it creates instablility in sitting and moving or shifts the stress onto the ankles and feet. The open back reduces sweating and reduces the need for talcum powder to prevent excessive chaffing of the back of the knee. The ultimate pad is the Trace Extra Long Style Knee Guard for Women’s’ Softball!




the second item on this page is what I use and recommend,


Trace Extra Long Style Knee Guard

(Click image for enlargement)


Premium grade vinyl / nitrile foam pad for maximum protection, while

minimizing compression set. Get protection when fielding and sliding.

Fits comfortably on back of leg without restricting freedom of

movement. Nylon/spandex fabric. 14″ length 3/8″.



similar are the same Softball knee guards can be found here,





You may be able to find it at any local store that carries softball equipment. That is the way I originally discovered them, but so far online seems to be the easiest and reliable way to get them. The one important advantage of finding them in a local store is getting the right size for you. If you get a size too big you may have problems during practice of them shifting too much down your legs which can be annoying if you several kata in a row without break. This is certainly a problem during demonstrations!


However, as great as this is, it still doesn’t protect the top of your feet. If you have a funny kink in a bone on the top of one your feet like I do or other imperfections, sitting in seiza or tate hiza on a hardwood floor can become pure torture. What you don’t want is a lot of padding that interferes with your kata, you want a little dose of neoprene to take the masochism out of your practice!


The right Rx is some ankle neoprene slip-on like these that actually cover the top of the foot and allows you to move well all day on a hardwood floor by exposing as much of the bottom of the foot as possible for decent traction.




These kind of ankle neoprene supports are little easier to find as many national and local drug store chains like CVS or Walgreens carry them in addition to sporting goods stores. The key is to find ones that cover as much of top the foot as possible to do the job of taking the edge off. The neoprene is not as thick and so it may not take away all or most of the discomfort like the kneepads do. I personally think this is a good thing. You want it to be good enough to take away the torture, but not so effective that it removes you so far from the floor that you don’t experience the firmness of the floor. Without some discomfort you won’t be motivated enough to learn good habits. Good habits like not sitting all your weight back on your feet in seiza or tate hiza. When you sit you weight should be shifted further forward taking the pressure of the feet. The thicker padding of the knee guards allows to find a position of greater comfort. This arrangement of padding then is helping you to learn to sit correctly and move correctly and the thinner neoprene on top of your foot becomes a non issue. Over time you may find you can do without the ankle neoprene pullover or no padding at all for shorter practice on a hardwood floor. Therefore too much padding will prevent you from finding this out and leave you dependent on always using padding or practicing on mats.


My favorite Keiko Gi

I am not a fan of the synthetic material tetron though many who practice Iaido in Japan wear it.   I prefer cotton.  In that respect, not all cotton keiko gi are the same. Some are quite rough and stiff, while others that are quite expensive drape on you in a very clingy way make them too warm and quite icky feeling.  My favorite has been an inexpensive Fuji brand that I get from BoguBag.com.  With the weak dollar, the 60$ price may be going up but still worth it.  http://bogubag.com/Uniforms/Kendo/uniforms_kendo_gi.html

Kendo Keiko Gi, Fuji Brand, Thick Single Weave, Blue, Indigo Dyed Cotton:

17-306   Keiko Gi, soft single weave, Blue 

How to Put On the Hakama

I originally did some searching to help new students or to respond to questions or because of sites newer students sent me with questions.  Wearing the traditional Japanese pants is part of Iaido from the beginning so it a challenge every new Iaido student faces. I tie my hakama in the manner Mitsuzuka Sensei taught me and show that to new students, but the following naganata site is the closest  that I have found online,http://www.scnf.org/poh.htmlhttp://www.scnf.org/poh2.htmlWe use the square not style used when wearing armor.  See the pictures at the bottom of the second page above (see footnote below (1).  This Kendo site has something very nice coherent drawings of basically the way we do it,http://www.mushinkankendo.com/kendo_uniform.html—-Other sites that may be informative in the various ways that a hakama is put on.  Many new students to Iaido may have trained in Aikido, where the hakama is tucked around a thinner belt. That’s akin to tucking your pants into your under wear or tucking your pants into your boots.  Helps to hold things in but very informal. This is nice illustration and complete except we do not finish with a bow which by the way is tied incorrectly as shown (see the discussion in the footnote (1))http://www.freewebs.com/iaidotoyama/uniform.htm

The first sequence is musubi kiri, which is used for normal iai training. It’s quite simple to tie and can be done in a minute or two.


(right most green button on bottom right of page takes you to the next page, red button takes you back to the top page  http://kimonoo.net/kituke.html    )

The second sequence is jumonji musubi, which is used for formal gatherings and demonstrations (some disagree (1)).


 ———————————————(1)Lots of detailed discussion about the knot in front on this e-budo thread:http://www.e-budo.com/forum/archive/index.php/t-7306.html

There are several ways. The warrior’s way of tying the hakama, also called shin musubi (true/correct knot) is a simple square knot with the ends of the himo (cords) tucked in, so they don’t move and/or get in the way.


The commoner’s method, called jumonji musubi (figure ten knot, so-called since it looks like “ten” in kanji) is to tie a square knot; then take one of the cords, fold it up and place it crossways (i.e., parallel with the directions of the cords as they go about the waist). Take the other cord and wrap it around the bundle you’ve just made of the other end, then fold it under the cords, if there’s any left over, so that the end is pointing up (not down! I dunno why that’s “wrong”), and voila! Lots of iaido people do it like that, but I have it on good authority (i.e., Yagyu Sensei) that warriors’d rather be caught without a hakama than to tie it like that. You could also tie the cords in a butterfly knot (cho musubi), but it would make you look like a jinja maiko (shrine maiden). Or a heck of a dork. Hope this helps. 

— Meik Skoss———————————————

piano recital

Haven’t posted in a while partly because I just wanted the Colemak solution to be as visible as possible and also because the whole idea of blogging still seems like a strange idea to me even after reading other blogs here and there for a few years.

Well, I just contributed to online piano recital my own voicing of the classic “Stormy Weather” and it was a lot of work but fun. I felt I came up with some interesting voicings. In several places, I felt it was difficult not to be too dissonant. I opted for solution where the melody note was either played over a sparser chord or by itself and then immediately followed by a chord with more more color notes to suggest a bit more dissonance giving a nice richer tone. I came with an interesting coda also. I used a technique of passing through a flatted seventh chord in the left hand to suggest more movement. Over all pretty nice. It’s a challenge to play and my recording has mistakes but it should be interesting to keep practicing it an improving it. I am now working on several songs: Angel Eyes, Unforgettable, Let it snow, Christmas Song. Also working on learning stride technique. Overall, having a lot of fun with the Sudnow course. You can check out my playing at the recital site Sudnow students piano recordings. Look for the folder titled May 13th recital. Hope you enjoy!