Naginata summer camp in Switzerland

by Joe Hafner

It’s us again – the Swiss Naginata Federation from Schaffhausen. After a great start in February 2022 at the Tokunaga Cup we are highly motivated for more Naginata practice. Fortunately Netta Sheinkman, a 1st dan from Israel, has had some spare time and been willing to give us some extra lessons.

On the 3rd of June Netta took a flight from Tel Aviv to Zurich and continued by train to Schaffhausen. After a few days of rest we started training at our usual spot – the Munot castle in central Schaffhausen. After some Uchikaeshi, Katas and Kakari-geiko Nettas objections were clear – we were lacking distinctly in our positioning So we started training. Sometimes it was just the experienced Naginata practitioners and sometimes we were training all together. We did so at least 2 times a week.

Our Israeli senpai pulled out all the stops for us. From efficiently training us to keep the correct distance over going through dozens of repetitions to military drills with “hell bunnies” and hours of Kakari-geiko. The “hell bunnies” now hold a special place in our hearts…. Honestly, we love them. They are a brilliant exercise for stamina and hip movement and an ideal punishment for misbehaving Swiss students ;D.

On the 21st of June we had a special event. We had organized a training session with Kendoka from Zurich. To begin with, we gave them some Naginata practice to get a general understanding of the weapon, then we fought against them. It was a thrilling experience because most of us Naginata practitioners were not used to the in comparison more brutal engagements and fast hits of the Kendoka, and in turn they were surprised by the variety of attacks and the long range coming from the Naginata. Especially Netta and Joe had some strong opponents who had already won gold medals in international competitions. They both clearly struggled against them and lost their battles. Nonetheless all of us already had much higher chances to win because of Netta’s training. In the end, it did not really matter to us whether we won or lost. Our shared love of martial arts brought the Kendoka and us together. Both groups had a lot of fun and could learn from this exchange.

Two days later Netta went back home to Israel. We have made a huge amount of progress in those three weeks and were delighted to work with her. We’re really looking forward to training with her again and hope we will be able to use our new skills in our upcoming shiais.

That’s all for now. Have a nice summer and greetings from Switzerland.