Calgary Omatsuri 2013 Interview with Dave Rathnow

At this year's Calgary Japanese Festival, I had the opportunity to interview Dave Rathnow, an Iaido practitioner and instructor at Shin Ken Kai Nobara Iaido Club. Iaido is referred to as "the art of Japanese swordmanship" or "the art of drawing of the sword". It is the sister art to Kendo. Unlike kendo, iaido is a non-contact martial art.

I must come clean, when I started to watch BleachI became interested in weapons-based martial arts. The Agent of the Shinigami arc remains, in my eyes, one of the strongest storylines I've come across in the shounen genre.

However, I digress. I wanted to learn kendo, but the cost of the equipment scared me off. I turned my attention to iaido. After watching videos online of how smooth and fluid the iaido kata are, I was hooked.

See for yourself the rhythm and flow of iai. Here are excerpts from the Iaido demonstration that Dave Rathnow-sensei, Allen Yee-sempai and Brent May-sempai did at the Calgary Omatsuri:

If you want a bit more of an introduction to Iaido, please read my article entitled "An Introduction to Iaido". I also have published a few more articles on Iaido for The Iaido Journal: "Rhythm and Flow", "Tempering Fire" and "A Special Box for a Special Club"

Now, for my interview with Dave-sensei:

Here are some of the websites I checked out when I first researched iaido:

Aoi Budo Gu: where I ordered my iaito

Ka Muso Kai Iaido Club: my dojo

Shin Ken Kai Nobara Iaido Club: Dave-sensei's dojo

SDK Supplies: where I ordered my beginner iaidoka set and my Hyoho Niten Ichi-Ryu (Musashi's two-sword style) bokuto 

Sword Store: many of my sempai ordered their iaito from here

I currently have three katana and samurai-related books in my library. The are: The Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi,The Life-giving Sword by Yagyu Munenori and the Hagakure by Yamamoto Tsunetomo.

Here's a trip down memory lane for me. These are some photos of when I studied Iaido:

Sadly, training nights moved to prime teaching nights for me a while back, so I had to stop training. I do hope to get back into it someday. For now, I'll just try to keep regular with sword cuts. After all, it's a lot of fun to hear my iaito go "whoosh".

About the featured image: Allen-sempai demonstrates the first Iaido kata from the Seitei Gata Iaido at the Calgary Omatsuri. Photo credit: Christine Kohl. Publisher: Kathleen Boucher.