Message from the Head Instructor
From August 22-29 of this year I had the opportunity to visit Japan to participate in a special Kodansha Koshukai (Advanced Student Class) as well as private training sessions with Tamiya Ryu Iaijutsu Genwakai Vice President Abe and Tamiya Ryu Iaijutsu Genwakai Operations Director Sugizaki at their respective Dojo. As it had been 4 years since I had last seen Tsumaki Kazuo Genwa Soke in Japan and 5 years since Soke Sensei and his Assistant, Endo Tsuyako Gentei Sensei, had visited Michigan, this trip proved to be a most enlightening and challenging experience in many ways.
Perhaps the greatest realization that presented itself to me during both my training and during my private reflections on the plane ride home was the fact that 4-5 years was much too long a span of time to be without any direct training input from Soke Sensei and the other Executive Sensei of the Tamiya Ryu Iaijutsu Genwakai. Even though I had been in regular contact with Soke Sensei during those 4-5 years (by means of e-mail and telephone conversations) in order to keep him abreast of the activities and development of the United States Tamiya Ryu Iaijutsu (USTRI) organization, due to a variety of circumstances the ability for our group to visit Japan or to have Soke Sensei present in Michigan to observe and make corrections to our technique was simply not possible.
As a result of this lengthy separation from Soke Sensei, when I was under the direct tutelage of Soke Sensei, Endo Sensei, Abe Sensei and Sugizaki Sensei during my training in Japan I came to realize, through much intense physical and mental challenge, that there was much to be done to bring the form of our practice of Tamiya Ryu Iaijutsu in America into alignment with the Japanese form of Tamiya Ryu Iaijutsu when I returned to Michigan and the new USTRI Training Year began in September. This was the genesis of the Re-alignment Process that began at the Fall All-Member Practice Session on Saturday, September 8, 2012.
Upon my return to Michigan at the end of August, I first detailed my training experiences during my trip to Japan on a day-by-day basis for the USTRI Board of Directors, and then began to fully document the teachings I had received from the Sensei in Japan so that the Re-alignment Process could proceed in as thorough a manner as possible. My greatest concern was that, if we were to attend the 2013 Shinsakai and Joint Enbukai (Testing and Demonstration Gathering) in Japan, we would not be viewed as doing “American Tamiya Ryu Iaijutsu” but would be seen as doing the same Tamiya Ryu Iaijutsu as is currently being taught and practiced in Japan.
Although I was reassured many times by Soke Sensei while in Japan that I and the members of USTRI were doing “correct Tamiya Ryu” based on the resources that had at our disposal for the last 4-5 years (Soke Sensei’s One Point Lesson text and the Standardized Technique materials), I couldn’t shake the feeling that if the two were viewed side-by-side, a distinct disparity would be seen.
Therefore, I and the Instructional Staff of USTRI and all of our members have embarked on the most important and critical of projects…one which I can see has already begun to bear fruit in the application of the Re-alignment Process in our practice of Tamiya Ryu Iaijutsu. My greatest hope is that, at the end of this Process, we will all feel confident that our practice of Tamiya Ryu Iaijutsu is identical to that of our Japanese counterparts and that we can feel a sense of unity with our primary source of our art once again.
Michael Alexanian (Gennan) - 7th Dan
USTRI General Manager (Sokatsu Shibucho)
Genwakai Head Instructor (Shihan)
United States Tamiya Ryu Iaijutsu
Michigan Honbu Dojo