First step in Naginata

When I learnt Estonia had recently joined the Naginata congregation, I was very happy to hear about it. This immediately triggered fond memories of how my own Naginata journey had begun:

Little did I know, that when I met my husband back in 1987, I’d get in contact with Kendo, a sport he had just started practicing. Time went by, and I got to know the world of Kendo from an audience perspective, accompanying my husband to his sports activities, actually liking what I saw, even thinking it was fascinating, but never feeling the urge to take on this sport myself.   

It required another 20 years to pass, when my husband returned from Kendo training, telling me there was this new person in their Kendo Dōjō talking about Naginata and that this was a sport for girls and they’d soon give a demo in Düsseldorf, at the yearly “Japan Day” festival.
Thinking, “Why not..?” I joined him at this festival, it was May 2007, where, next to many other Japanese cultural and sports attractions, I had the pleasure to see some Naginata practitioners from Mainz, giving a demonstration.

Needless to say, I fell in LOVE with the graceful swinging movements, was fascinated by the seemingly lightness of their footwork and because I had already seen Kendō training, I was impressed by the shiai demonstration, how such a long weapon was actually handled in a one-to-one fight.

 So, thanks to the many facts such as: ..… the German Naginata movement, which was still very young at the time, had a fraction of practitioners at Mainz University of which Andreas Nicol was part, his later relocation to Leverkusen where he joined a Kendō group at which my husband was training……all of this leading to the Japanese Festival demo where I saw some of today’s German Naginata veterans.  (THANK YOU also to Ines, Eva, Martin and Mark L.)

Life does have some interesting twists and I am really happy that Naginata turned my way. THANK YOU, dear Andreas for your guidance and training throughout these past years for which I am really grateful. The long journey through which I have met so many lovely people, not only in Leverkusen or Mainz, but have had the chance to travel to the Netherlands, Belgium, France and Portugal experiencing Naginata throughout Europe and being able to train with so many incredibly great sensei, trainers and Naginata companions.

I have learnt so much in these years, not only pure Naginata based competence, but got a glimpse of the whole realm of Japanese martial arts, learnt the etiquette connected to this world and the Japanese culture for which I am utterly grateful and happy to have been able to take this journey.

My Naginata journey is still not at it’s end…. only slowing down due to the pandemic….and I have high hopes to be able to see all my Naginata companions once again soon, whereas Estonia definitely is a new target on my map for further Naginata endeavours… !

by Cornelia Izquierdo