“You should bring engi into your shiai and shiai into your engi” Takami Tanner sensei

by Kirsi Hoglund

Sweden hosted a seminar with Takami sensei, 5 dan renshi, on June 11th-12th . The focus of the seminar was supposedlybe bogu, but on the first day all our bogu was standing neatly arranged on the side, acting as a reminder that the path to good bogu is through good kihon.
Good kihon – the basics – is the key to good Naginata. It is always good idea to once in a while have a sensei look at your kihon so that your own muscle memory doesn’t adopt bad habits.

Takami sensei gave us lots of great feed back. Personally, I need to slightly adjust my do-cut just a little so that the direction of the ha (blade) follows a fluid motion where the ha gradually approches the height of the opponent’s koshi-ita (the back panel of the hakama). If the opponent is about the same length or taller than you, then the ha-bu will be ever so slightly turned up rather than be totally parallel to the floor.

In the afternoon of the first day we also practised Shikake-Oji and Zen Nihon Kata. It is strange how some things that one has known for so many years still can be a challenge, and one can discover new aspects when working on them. For example, at the start we participants had different ways of doing the ebarai in Shikake-Oji nanahonme. Takami sensei walked us through it step-by-step. She was very patient and took the time needed to answer all the questions and let us work on it. I think most of us made good progress in our technique.

On the second day we finally got to wear our bogu. Takami sensei gave us a smorgasbord of different drills. We got to do all the classics such as “men-uke-sune” and “sune-nuki-men”, but also some new interesting ones. Drills are great to increase the variety of technique in your shiai, to make the most of every situation. Though a single seminar is not enough by far to learn them so that they come “naturally”. That will take many hours in the dojo. Practice makes perfect.

At the end of the second day and also the seminar we returned to where we started the day before, to kihon and to engi. The circle was closed or as Takami sensei put it “You should bring engi into your shiai and shiai into your engi”.
We are very happy and grateful that Takami sensei came to Sweden and shared her great knowledge so generously with us.
Thank you very much, Takami sensei <3