United States
Tamiya Ryu Iaijutsu
Reflecting Pool

"Kanreki" Reflections

Turning 60 years of age is a significant milestone for the Japanese. The special celebrations that take place when one turns 60 dates back to a time when longevity was not what it is today due to varying factors such as war, famine, disease and the like. For the Japanese, one’s “Kanreki”, or 60th birthday, is the point at which one’s life truly begins…a “second childhood” if you will.

As I celebrated my “Kanreki” this October 3rd, it has prompted me to reflect on what significance this milestone may have for me, both in my martial arts career and my life outside of the Dojo environment…if the two can even be separated, that is. There was a time in my life when I thought that I would never make it to 30, due to certain choices I had made and the lifestyle that I had lived. Suffice it to say that all the experiences I had in 35 years of living led me to a very significant juncture in my life and that without those experiences (good and bad) I would not be where I am today with no regrets about anything I went through to get here.

This year, 2012, marks this turning point in my life…for it was 25 years ago that I first began my study of the Japanese Sword Arts and set my foot on a path that was to change my life in innumerable ways. On that day 25 years ago when I entered a Dojo for the first time and picked up a Bokuto (wooden sword), a spark somewhere inside of me began to smolder and eventually burst into a flame that has burned constantly for a quarter of a century. In Japanese, this flame, this ardor is called “Nesshin”, which is a combination of two Kanji (Chinese characters): “Netsu” or “Fever” and “Shin” or “Heart.” Put together, they covey an enthusiasm or zeal for something which affects someone to the very core of their being, as the study of Tamiya Ryu Iaijutsu has affected me for all these years. Even until the end of my days, that fire will continue to burn until it returns to the larger flame from which it first came.

These past 25 years have also given me the chance to meet many people through the practice of Tamiya Ryu Iaijutsu both as a student (Deshi) and an instructor (Kyoshi) and to share my accumulated knowledge of various forms of Japanese culture, in particular the culture of Japanese Bujutsu. Since 1996, when Tsumaki Sensei first came to America to officially open the USTRI Michigan Honbu Dojo, over 200 people have spent time learning and training at the Michigan Honbu Dojo and whether their time here was short or long, I would like to believe that they took something of value away with them that has aided them in their lives.

Now, as I enter the next decade of my life and look toward eventually taking more of an advisory role in USTRI, I am highly encouraged by the fact that we have an extremely knowledgeable and committed core group of Instructors and Board Members that will continue to pass on the knowledge and traditions of Tamiya Ryu Iaijutsu and keep the “Nesshin” alive in our Deshi for many decades to come. This, I have come to realize after 60 years, is the legacy that I will leave behind me…and for that, I will be eternally grateful to the Tsumaki Clan for granting me the privilege of introducing the art of Tamiya Ryu Iaijutsu to America and to build something of value that will endure for generations to come.