Thursday, March 19, 2009

London Seminar

On August 24 through the 29th, John Evans Sensei will present the SMAA European Seminar in London, England. Evans Sensei is a direct student of the late Nakamura Taisaburo Sensei, founder of Nakamura Ryu battodo, a form of Japanese swordsmanship. Evans Sensei is the head of the Battodo Fudokan Dojo in London, a seventh dan in Nakamura Ryu, and an SMAA Senior Advisor. The unique instruction he’ll be offering at our London seminar will be the result of his many years of training and living in Japan.

The SMAA European Seminar will focus on tanren (“forging”)—the Nakamura Ryu swordsmanship conditioning exercises that integrate internal and external power to forge the spirit and body. Evans Sensei will demonstrate how these exercises can be applied in kata (forms), kumitachi (sparring) and tameshi giri (test cutting). For tanren to be effective one must be able to access tanden breathing, special breathing exercises centered in the lower abdomen. As the result, morning classes will begin with abdominal cleansing and strengthening exercises. Internal energy (ki) will then be made to flow through the use of deep stance work together with tanren tools (tetsubo and tanrenbo). In the afternoon sessions, this increased awareness and access to the tanden—a natural center in the lower abdomen—will be utilized in basic kata, kumitachi exercises, and tameshi giri. For maximum benefit participants are asked to refrain from alcohol and heavy evening meals until the last day of the course.

Here’s some more information about the topics that will be covered in August at the SMAA European Seminar:

The practice of the sword in Japan has long been used to develop health, coordination, concentration, and equanimity. "Batto" refers to a quick drawing and striking with the sword. "Do" refers to a path of training that aims at full development of the individual. The Fudokan Dojo follows the principles set out by Nakamura Sensei, tenth dan and the founder of Nakamura Ryu. The teaching combines four kinds of training necessary to develop complete swordsmanship.

Suburi (swinging of the sword) is practiced slowly with the heavy tanrenbo (practice pole) and with slow breathing in a sequence of movements and stances. This develops strong and flexible hips and legs. It also cultivates the coordination of movement, breath, and sword essential for effective sword technique. Misogi refers to the breathing and meditation techniques used to cleanse the inner energy system in order that the abdominal center (tanden) awakens.

The eight stances, eight sheathings, and eight cutting techniques, which constitute the heart of Nakamura Sensei’s school, are practiced in basic flowing combinations (kihon) and then applied in the set forms, or kata, of the Toyama and Nakamura Ryu. Students also study five elemental forms derived from the Kurikara Ryu.

Maai (timing and distance) are learned through the partner forms (kumitachi kata) and through sparring exercises with bokken (wooden swords) and fukuroshinai (leather covered bamboo swords). Full sparring is done using shinai (split bamboo swords) and kendo armor.

When students have become proficient with mogi-to (non-bladed practice swords), they are encouraged to practice the solo forms with bladed swords. They can then begin to master correct cutting technique through test cutting (tameshi giri) using straw and bamboo targets.

You can learn more about what will be offered at the SMAA European Seminar, and see videos of the topics outlined above, by visiting Evans Sensei is looking forward making new friends at the first SMAA event ever offered in Europe.

August 24th through the 29th

London Buddhist Arts Centre
Eastbourne House, Bullards Place
E2 0PT (Bethnal Green Tube)
London, England

John Evans Sensei (Featured Instructor, biographical sketch at

Monday evening: Demonstration and lecture
Tuesday – Friday classes: 7:00 to 10:00 AM and 3:30 to 5:30 PM
Saturday class: 7:00 to 10:00 AM, lunch at Sasa Sushi, Islington

Required Equipment:
Keikogi/Hakama/Obi or loose clothing and shorts
Bokken (also iaito and katana if you have them)
Tetsubo (2 x 1 kilo steel rods) and tanrenbo (2-3 kilo training pole)
(Evans Sensei can make arrangement to sell you these items, or find weapons for you to borrow, if you contact him well in advance of your arrival in London.)

Course fee: £250 pounds/ £125 students (Fee includes tameshi giri)

A non-refundable deposit of £100 is payable in advance to book a place, with the remainder to be paid by July 1st. This event is sponsored by the Shudokan Martial Arts Association. Paid up SMAA members will receive a 20% discount. Non-SMAA members will receive SMAA membership as part of their course fee.

Housing and Meals:

Contact Evans Sensei for help locating lodging and meals, or drop by

Space is limited. Contact Evans Sensei soon to reserve your place.


Visitor & Tourist Information:
London Visitor Information:

Airports & Transportation:
Go to or contact Evans Sensei if you have questions about flying to the SMAA European Seminar.

Contact Information:
John Evans Sensei