It is always a pleasure when we are called to animate a seminar and to participate in the refereeing of a tournament, especially if it takes place in the beautiful city of New York. So beginning of April Mr Ellery Engalla, godan in naginata, currently instructor of Nichibukan Naginata in New Jersey, president of USNF from 2018 to 2022 was organizing the 12th Japanese Swordsmanship Society (JSS) Seminar and it’s Championship in honor of Yamauchi sensei and invited me to give him a hand at this occasion.
Let’s take a moment to remember who was Yamauchi Sensei :
« Sachiko Yamauchi started her Naginata training in 1971 at the Naginata Club of Matsuyama Shinonome junior High school. By 16 years old she had reached shodan. She was promoted to the rank of Kyoshi in 1996 a year after she had become eligible. Yamauchi Sensei was one of the youngest to ever be promoted to that rank. (…) Her tournament was also very impressive. In the 15th All Japan Naginata High School Championship, she was the team captain of the winning team. The next year she took the paired ( engi) College Championship. She continued her career in college, winning both in team competition and individually during various All Japan College Naginata Tournaments. Yamauchi Sensei was in many All Japan prefecture competitions both as a team player and as a paired (engi) kata competitor. Quite often placing in the top 10 or better. In 1989 at the 30nd All Japan Prefecture Championships, she took 1st place as an individual. Thus, she won first place in All Japan level naginata tournaments in high school, college, and as an adult. Yamauchi Sensei also has a great career as a teacher and coach.
She taught Naginata at various levels. This experience ranges from teaching Elementary and Junior High School children to teaching the older section at the Saijo Wako Club City, Ehime. She is qualified as a college level Naginata seminar leader as well as Gifu and Ehime prefectures seminar leader. (…) Among her many duties in Japan she has been Standing Director of Ehime Naginata Federation, Chairperson of the Board of Directors ,Advisor to the All Japan College Naginata Federation and Standing Director of the Matsuyama City Sports Association. In 1991 Yamauchi Sensei received the Ehime Prefecture Sports Association’s Outstanding Coach Award and the Matsuyama City Sports Association’s Distinguished Coaching Award. Yamauchi sensei moved to New York City area in the fall of 2000. This was after she made several trips to help establish naginata on the east coast. In her time she served as president of the <united States Naginata Federation (2010-2012). Vice president of the greater New York Naginata Federation (GNYNF), technical advisor to the East Coast Naginata Federation ECNF) as well as the Canadian Naginata Federation (CNF) An adamant inspired and firm teacher in the Japanese way of instruction, her legacy lives on in her students and colleagues and was much admired and respected by friends in various other martial arts. Sachiko Yamauchi Prough プロウ(山内)咲智子, president of the United States Naginata Federation (米国なぎなた連盟) and a respected naginata and iaido teacher, passed away in New Jersey, after suffering an aneurysm on New Year’s Day. She was 52. ».
The first spring seminar was created in 2000 with Yamauchi sensei, Mr John Prough (her husband) and Tanaka sensei. And since then her students have been carrying on a beautiful tradition.
How to resist the temptation to participate in this event without visiting Manhattan. So, in the company of Canadian students, all of whom came for this beautiful tournament, we went to discover the Big Apple. During one day we wandered between the lights of Times Square and Joe’s pizza in the labyrinth of the city’s skyscrapers.
The next day with the help of Gabriel Djinn sensei (practicing naginata since 2001) Raymond Sosnowski-sensei (practicing naginata since 1996) and Ellery Engalla sensei, I animated a naginata workshop for the practitioners who came for the occasion. It was a very pleasant moment of sharing for all of us as it is always the case when practitioners from different places meet.
About 50 practitioners came for this occasion as the grade level was very different. We had to create several groups adapted to skills. Some people were san dan, but many just started naginata a few weeks or few months before. I believe everybody had a chance to learn during this nice seminar and at the end of it we shared a little dinner in a chinese restaurant.
The next day some other members joined the tournament. We first had an engi tournament which took us quite some time. Then the shiai tournament with the kyu and dan category. This was comparable to what we organize in Europe during our seminar. I was only surprised by the number of young participants. Most participants were under 25 years old, I would love to see more young practitioners in our country. I hope more naginata practitioners will soon come to the next ENC to show us their talent.
At the end of this nice event we had a nice little ceremony and some free practice. When many Americans and Canadians practitioners came to me for a little jigeiko, it was another great moment.
The day ends with a nice little dinner shared with some motivated members laughing over the great day we just had. I would like here to thank all the JSS members for their hospitality and especially Ellery Engalla for receiving me in his beautifull home.