by Daniela Moroncelli
From 15th to 16th of April Italy was honoured to host the Naginata seminar with Sumi Kaoru sensei in Florence.
It was a very special event because it’s not so usual for us to have such a great japanese sensei to visit Italy, so a lot of people from all parts of the country came to enjoy this experience! We had people from Turin, Fano and also from the south, Naples and Rome, where new dojos are starting to grow up and we also had Yolanda Vanneste from Belgium, the only person from outside Italy.
The very first thing that Sumi sensei said was that during the Covid period we all had hard times with practicing and keep our body strong and healthy so she gave to every person two papers where she drew puppets doing basic exercises for balance, breath and strenght; she said that now we have to reawaken our bodies and start to feel new energy from the present days.
After the warming up everybody practiced together kihon, putting a lot of attenction on taisabaki, kamae and maai and also how to employ strikes and blocks in attacking and receiving sequences with a good timing using a good synchronization between the two praticioners; everybody can try this exercise at the dojo, expecially for beginners: make pairs without holding a naginata, just with your body, the attacker and receiver go to chudan no kamae and then the first one strikes (it’s not necessary for the receiver to know which kind of strike, he has to watch carefully and “see” the movement just before it’s done), the important point for both is to move in a perfect synchronization their bodies (feet, body, arms) trying to be faster and faster but always precise; after that it will be easier to understand the movement with the naginata and you’ll surely improve the basics in attacking and blocking.
The focus of the seminar was to practice together, and deeply understand what that means. Every pratictioner always have to think about his partner, if you are motodachi for example you have a very important role, you can determinate the good or bad execution of a technique of your partner, always offer an appropriate target, move farward or backward to give the correct distance to strike, encourage your partner to attack with the good spirit, don’t just think about yourself and your technique… same is for the attacker, that always have to think about a good execution of the technique trying to be focused on the opponent and give a good timing and a real attitude and spirit.
At the end of the first day and during the second day we also had a lot of bogu practice that was also focused on basics and good strikes and blocks; as everybody knows Sumi sensei is used to wear the bogu during her seminars, so everybody has the privilege to practice uchikaeashi, kakarigeiko and jigeiko with her and I think that it was a very strong experience for our beginners that have been practicing Naginata just for a few months!
All of the seminar was great, both advanced and beginner pratictioners found a lot of points to
work on at their dojos and a lot of passion to put in Naginata practice also as a life experience, expecially in preparation for the ENC in Modena in September!
The last beautiful moment of the seminar was also a memory for Sunagawa sensei that passed away recently; she was a Naginata sensei and a well known artist in Japan for her calligraphy so Sumi sensei made a present for all of the partecipants at the seminar giving a tenugui with a sentence printed on it with Sunagawa’s calligraphy that means “Budo as a path of Life“.