« Cultivating Compassion” – Pacific Shintaido Kangeiko 2022

« Cultivating Compassion” –  Pacific Shintaido Kangeiko 2022

Saturday and Sunday, January 15–16, 2022

with guest instructors

ULA CHAMBERS & SHIN AOKI
General Instructor, British Shintaido Senior Instructor, Pacific Shintaido

Three keiko will be offered via Zoom:
Saturday 9 a.m. and noon, Sunday 9 a.m.
Pacific Standard Time

Kangeiko fee, $60. Register by paying in advance here.

Scholarship fee waivers available. Direct your request and any other inquiries to one of the Pacific Shintaido Board members / Gasshuku managers:

Shin Aoki at shinaoki@aol.com
Cheryl Williams at cwilliams1218@aol.com
Derk Richardson at derkrichardson@att.net

Visit the Pacific Shintaido website and Facebook page for updates.


Quebec Canada Gasshuku – Impressions

Quebec Canada Gasshuku – Impressions

From September, 2021

A few words from Sarah

Covid-19 made its effects felt around the world in 2020 with most gatherings being cancelled, including Shintaido events. As vaccines became available and more adults were able to get vaccinated, small slits began to open in the curtain of isolation. Small groups again talked of gathering and as such the fall SOA gasshuku typically held in Quebec Canada made plans to come together.

Beginning as humble hopes and dreams to the reality of border restrictions into Canada actually easing, the extraordinary plans of gathering with distant friends again began in earnest. SOA members from CA, FL and Canada arranged to meet Ito Sensei and Nicole in Quebec City, QU, CAN as has happened so easily in the past. But this gathering had the added complication of proof of Covid-19 vaccinations and 72 hour pre-travel testing, hoping for negative results. 

But then it all came together and we all were heading to Canada once again. With the first hurdle, travel, met and cleared, new challenges presented themselves. Where could our small group gather to practice? Though Canada’s borders were opening to international travellers, venues, indoors and out, within Quebec were re-imposing strict guidelines on group size and acceptable activities. Questions arose about where we would be able to practice. Then the answer came. Carole and Denis invited the small group to their dojo on the eastern edge of the Gaspésie Peninsula. 

With more planning for transportation and lodging, the small group including Ito Sensei, Nicole, Herve, Connie, Rob G, and Sarah gathered in Quebec City and drove to Carole and Denis’. Everyone had their jobs. Connie and Rob took turns piloting the minivan. Sarah provided navigation. Herve filled our time with lively conversation and endless discussion topics. Nicole and Ito lent us strength and stability amid the chaos.

From the moment of arriving at Carole and Denis’, home we entered a dream world. Covid-19 was momentarily put aside. Masks were something to be remembered when leaving the compound much like wallets, jackets, and water bottles might be. 

We gathered for communal meals, flowing and washing over each other in a blend of languages from French and English to the occasional Japanese. Subgroups got rowdy with laughter and serious discussions. Everyone felt relaxed and generally happy. But we didn’t forget why this small group came together in the first place, and we had 6 inspiring Shintaido keiko in our host’s amazing dojo. 

Melonie who lives just down the street, joined us for 3 of these classes.

Gasshuku are generally special and unique. This gasshuku, dispite the challenges and restrictions was also special and unique.

Rob Gaston impressions from Canada

 A unification of the dojo space, nature, Carole and Denis’ personality and character and the local community in a way that seems to flow so you can feel all parts when focused on any one part. The feeling of living in harmony so that the spirits of the first people, the nature spirits are present and surrounding and liking the keiko we did. 

  The warmth of welcome of the Quebec Shintaido group from the moment of arrival at Herve’s to the endless abundance of cookies that came from Carole and Denis’ freezer in the basement.  The feeling was my image of what I want to express in ten position meditation pose number 2, and then going beyond in their warm welcome.

There was a joy I think everyone felt in being able to do keiko in person again.


Connie’s impressions from Canada

Eight people joined in a group to practice Kyukajo, Shintaido and Jissen. We were fortunate to have Carole and Denis offer their private dojo (see picture). The three days moved through uniting our bodies and minds to harmony with others, ultimately expanding to include the community and big nature. 

Friday morning, Carole led warmups followed by Connie Borden and Robert  teaching Kyukajo. Ito sensei reminded the group of the difference between working with the blade tip/first one-third of the sword in Kyukajo and working with the middle section of the blade as in Jissen.

Saturday morning, Connie taught Taimyo part II and part III. During the deep bow Ito Sensei suggested we fully bow by releasing the hips backwards and having the top of the head/chakra point downward (within each person’s ability). During big dipper, Ito sensei reinforced that a relaxed position without strain would allow each of us to reach further up and down while spiraling our body. Saturday afternoon, Rob taught attack and receiving for Jodan Uchite.

Sunday morning, Connie taught Shoden no kata kumitachi.  Everyone practiced Mitori keiko and shared feedback on seeing how a person moved with the bokken.  Sunday morning ended with exams for advanced students. Sarah Baker and Denis Bujold became Advanced Students.

Rob Gaston concluded the weekend of study with the sixth keiko. The study was Jissen Kumitachi Dotoh. Ito sensei encouraged students to watch Rob and Connie to notice the management of timing and space.

Ito Sensei provided a memorial evening of Taimyo under the night sky. Big nature provided a sky full of stars and the Milky Way, while the bay waters lapped gently near our feet. 

Food and conversation completed the full gasshuku experience. Thank you, Sarah, for navigating our travels. Thank you, Nicole, and Melanie, for your presence. Thank you, Carole, Denis and Herve for organizing. Thank you, Rob, for co-teaching and collaborative travel. Thank you, Ito sensei.

Check out videos from the Gasshuku on Shintaido of America YouTube channel. Subscribe to our YouTube channel and never miss a new video.


International Shintaido – an evolving organization

International Shintaido – an evolving organization

by Lee Ordeman

When the idea of dissolving the International Shintaido NPO was first proposed, I was strongly against it. For 13 years as a board member of ISC and then IS, I worked hard to establish a legally incorporated organization. Further, I spent a year on another committee that wrote the bylaws for IS. After all this, I couldn’t imagine giving up on an ideal and such a long-held goal. But then I considered the situation from a longer and wider historical perspective.

Lee Oderman with his family

Instead of seeing this moment as a setback, I began to see it as a stage of transition away from an old model, the iemoto system of leadership, and toward something more appropriate. The iemoto system is the way traditional Japanese cultural schools, including martial arts schools, handled succession of leadership. When a master died or ended his or her career, a new individual would be chosen to carry on and further the legacy. This system may have worked well in feudal times, but in modern times, it has not shown a lot of success – at least not for martial artists. Think of aikido or the various schools of karate. Succession at these schools has not gone smoothly. When a master has died or given up control, the school has divided and the tradition weakened. As far as I can tell, no organization like ours has succeeded in making this transition without splitting apart and weakening the stream of knowledge.

Shin Aoki teaching in Italy
Shin Aoki teaching in Italy

We have been traveling this path of transition away from the old system for some years now, and we are discovering that such change doesn’t come as an event but as a process, and a longer and harder process than we had imagined. One main cause of our difficulty is that within Shintaido we maintain elements of pre-modern Japanese culture. Besides some superficial cultural traces like Japanese clothing and Japanese vocabulary, we have some important, deep and influential traditions, like sempai/kohai relationships and the students’ deep devotion and loyalty to a main teacher, whom we burden with great responsibilities and expectations, even beyond the walls of the dojo. 

These ancient Japanese cultural elements rely on conditions that don’t normally exist in Western student-teacher relationships. [They don’t fit comfortably in modern culture anywhere, for that matter, arguably not even in Japan.] Over the last six years or so, we have been trying to knit these traditional Japanese elements into a way of self-organizing that embraces democratic principles. Not surprisingly, we are finding that hard to do: For some things we expect top-down leadership, for some we expect grassroots initiative, for some we expect the doshu to delicately indicate which way to go. It is confusing, sometimes frustrating, and at times conflicting for sempai and kohai alike. 

It can be hard going, but for an “avant garde” martial art, that was founded in principles and ideals both Eastern and Western, in which the individual is valued as much as the group, we can neither return to a feudal approach to leadership, nor can we lock down another way of organizing ourselves that doesn’t work or feel relevant to so many in the group. Instead, we can respond to the new conditions and adapt. Just as our “new” martial art evolves with the demands of the times, so can its approach to organization and leadership. 

It is unlikely that we will figure all this out on the first try, and maybe not on the second or third. We will have to revise and revise as we go. Like Jim Sterling said when ITEC and the Board met in March to discuss the way forward, we will wipe away the mandala and make a new one. 

Without an individual patriarchal/matriarchal leader to tell us what to do, how we make decisions and organize will continue to be a process. The process will require us to voice our points of view to one another. The process will show us our differences, and it is valuable and important that it do so.

We can embrace these moments of opposing views as opportunities to practice our art. Shintaido shows us how to deal with differences and deal with the discomfort, regardless of the structure by which we do it. Shintaido life is not a life without differences with others. A life in Shintaido is rather a life equipped to deal with the differences, even conflicts, and to turn them into opportunities for making things better for everyone. And leading up to this moment, as we have struggled and experienced occasional disagreement, this process of change has brought us closer together, and we are now communicating better than ever.

Though I have come to believe that the IS NPO based in France should be dissolved to make way for the next phase or our organization, I don’t regret the work to create and operate IS as a waste of effort. The organization served a very good purpose:  First, it taught us many things we are now finding useful as we refine how to organize ourselves in the future. Second, it held us together all this time. It did so especially through a much greater crisis in 2015 and 2016, when we were actually splitting apart, as we broke with the iemoto system and then struggled to hold together what was left. It was an emotional and divisive time; people were angry with each other and the future of Shintaido itself seemed at risk. But in this crisis we found opportunity to overcome differences. Finding agreement to create a new organization and attempting to make it support a unified curriculum and exam system brought us closer together than we were before. 

I believe the next phase will bring us even closer together as we continue to make Shintaido a vital, strong and internationally unified stream of learning that brings joy and light to people well into the future. 

See you in keiko and at exams!

Lee Ordeman served on the boards of the ISC and IS from 2008 until this spring. He also helped write the IS bylaws and code of ethics. He started practicing Shintaido 34 years ago in Cambridge, Massachusetts, studying with Michael Thompson and David Franklin. In 1990 he moved to Tokyo, where he became an instructor and studied with Hiroyuki Aoki, Mitsuru Okada, and H.F. Ito during his regular visits to Japan. Lee moved back to the U.S. in 2000 and since then has led classes in Baltimore and Washington, DC. He is also a regular guest instructor at El Haddawi, a school of body movement in Bavaria, Germany. 


The Stories of Shintaido – A Conversation with Connie Borden

The Stories of Shintaido – A Conversation with Connie Borden

by Jim Sterling

Please take a look at the first of what I hope will be a series of conversations with Shintaido instructors and practitioners. 
We want to learn more about each other’s Shintaido experience, as well as get to know a bit about the personal and professional life of our community members.

Our first conversation is with Connie Borden.

Connie has been teaching and practicing Shintaido since 1984.  She is a General  Instructor, the President of Shintaido of America and Chairperson of the Shintaido International Technical Examination Committee.  I’m sure many of you have studied with her, attended workshops she has organized or been in meetings that she has led.

Connie’s professional life as an RN and Nurse Practitioner has given her many insights into the world of healing and caregiving. She has spent the last 27 years focusing on hospice and palliative care, counselling patients and their families who are facing serious illness and at times, the end of their lives.

I hope you enjoy this conversation on our SOA YouTube Channel.


PacShin 2021 Kangeiko via Zoom was a success!

PacShin 2021 Kangeiko via Zoom was a success!

by Connie Borden, Shin Aoki and Derk Richardson

New for Shintaido in 2021 was PacShin Kangeiko via Zoom. PacShin offered three keiko on three separate days via Zoom so that Shintaido practitioners could deepen their study during this time of COVID pandemic. Thirty-seven people studied over the course of three days across two weekends—January 16, 17, and 23, 2021. Participants attended from the San Francisco Bay Area, the East Coast of the USA, the UK, Belgium, France, Italy, and the Czech Republic. The Kangeiko theme was “Opening to Life.”

Gianni Rossi, Shintaido General Instructor from Italy, and Margaret Guay, Shintaido Instructor from Shintaido Northeast, taught open-hand and Bokuto Shintaido techniques. Shin Aoki, Shintaido Senior Instructor, served as Director of Instruction. Shin, Cheryl Williams, and Derk Richardson were the organizers and Gasshuku managers.  Sarah Baker edited all the Zoom recordings.

PanShin instructors Gianni Rossi (left) and Margaret Guay (right)

Derk opened Kangeiko with a poem. As a reflection on the theme, “Opening to Life,” he read this poem by Mary Oliver:

I DON’T WANT TO LIVE A SMALL LIFE

I don’t want to live a small life.
Open your eyes,
open your hands.
I have just come
from the berry fields, the sun
kissing me with its golden mouth all the way
(open your hands) and the wind winged clouds
following along thinking perhaps I might
feed them, but no I carry these heart-shapes
only to you. Look how many how small
but so sweet and maybe the last gift
I will ever bring to anyone in this
world of hope and risk, so do.
Look at me. Open your life, open your hands.

Gianni and Margaret co-taught all three keiko, leading us remotely from hundreds and thousands of miles away, yet with striking intimacy. In her teaching, Margaret combined her study of Body-Mind Centering with Shintaido, taking the idea of “opening” down to the cellular level of human development, and encouraging us to explore our body movements through all of our senses, especially while rolling on the floor! During the first keiko, she reminded us of the heart-mind connection as she demonstrated holding a ball in front of her chest, while resting her head on the ball.

During the second keiko, she led us through movements of the hand, directing our attention to how our fingers folded and unfolded, opened and closed, as we made fists, teaching about the evolution of our grip, and making the connection to how we do Tsuki. During the final keiko, Margaret had us reach through the windows of our computer, tablet, and phone screens and feel the connection with all the other Zoom participants.

Margaret Guay while teaching

Gianni taught both open-hand Shintaido and Bokuto, leading the first keiko’s extensive warmups with Bokuto.  During the second keiko, he led in Eiko Dai, urging us to “go far, far, far” while running in place in our confined spaces, and he asked us to unmute ourselves so we could hear one another. The holding a “virtual” sword vertically, we reached out into the world and brought it back into our bodies, then we practiced with our actual swords. The keiko also included mochikai-e, receiving Tsuki with wakame, and more. During his closing keiko he encouraged to “fly” around our rooms with multi-directional cutting, and transported us back through time and space to a keiko he recalled with Master Instructor Masashi Minagawa in Italy, 12 or 15 years ago, taking us to the origins of Diamond Eight Cut. As Gianni “attacked” us with the various Diamond Eight cuts, we received on our side of our screens with wakame.

With Margaret leading, we finished with a meditative kata, originally shared by Michael Thompson, that brought together elements of Diamond Eight Cut and Ten-Point meditation, allowing us to settle into a deep contemplative space together through our bodies.

During the weekdays, four supplementary keiko were offered to all participants. Connie Borden taught two keiko focusing on Taimyo No Kata Part I and one keiko practicing Taimyo Part III. Bela Breslau’s keiko gave us the opportunity to deepen our study and exploration of Tenshingoso.

Opening the second weekend, Derk read the poem “The Guest House” by 13th-century Persian poet Mewlana-Jalaluddin-Rumi:

THE GUEST HOUSE

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

And as part of the closing ceremony for our weeklong study of “Opening to Life,” Derk read another poem by Mary Oliver:

DON’T HESITATE

If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy, don’t hesitate.
Give in to it.
There are plenty of lives and whole towns destroyed or about to be.
We are not wise, and not very often kind.
And much can never be redeemed.
Still, life has some possibility left.
Perhaps this is its way of fighting back,
that sometimes something happens better than all the riches or power in the world.
It could be anything,
but very likely you notice it in the instant when love begins.
Anyway, that’s often the case.
Anyway, whatever it is, don’t be afraid of its plenty.
Joy is not made to be a crumb.

At the conclusion of each keiko, after a short break, participants were invited to stay online and engage in Q&A sessions with the instructors and open-ended discussions as a group. Although remote practice in separate spaces may not be an ideal way to practice Shintaido, Kangeiko via Zoom allowed Shintaido folks to practice with people they may never have met or hadn’t seen in a long time, and to converse and share our impressions of our experience. 

All three of the formal 2021 PacShin Kangeiko keiko can be accessed and watched on the Shintaido of America YouTube channel.



Shintaido, Past, Present and Future

Shintaido, Past, Present and Future

by Peter Furtado

This is a publication of British Shintaido. It was the first inaugural lecture, given by Peter Furtado in January 2021, about the Rakuntenkai group who developed Shintaido with Aoki Sensei in the 1960s, and the importance of their mission to the world today.

Peter is a long-time teacher and practitioner of Shintaido and a celebrated British historian. He traces the evolution of Shintaido over 60 years starting with its roots in Japan and eventual adoption in Europe and the United States. He incorporates in his talk many treasured videos and photographs from the Rakutenkai days.

After the lecture is over, Peter answers questions from the audience.
I hope you enjoy it!


Shintaido of America has a new team member

Shintaido of America has a new team member

Shintaido of America is very pleased and excited to announce that Tereza Soldatova has joined our social media team as the new Newsletter Content and Outreach Specialist.   Tereza will be responsible for publishing Body Dialogue articles on our website and reaching out to the subscribers on our Mailchimp marketing platform.  Also, she will be managing the content of our Facebook and Instagram pages.  She will be working with Jim Sterling, body dialogue editor and Rob Kedoin, SOA’s webmaster.

Hiring Tereza is an important step forward for SOA’s Branding Initiative and Strategic Plan.

Tereza lives in Prague, Czech Republic.  She has become familiar with Shintaido via David Franklin and helps with Shintaido CZ activities.  

She has worked for various companies as a social media manager and is taking classes in social media marketing strategy.  She has experience working with WordPress, Mailchimp, Facebook and Instagram.  

Tereza has a bachelor’s degree in sociology and is working on her master’s degree in semiotics.

As she mentioned in her CV,  “Social media is a powerful communication tool. When handled with precision and creativity, it can help meaningful projects to grow.”

Tereza enjoys cinema, analog photography, and body movement.

Welcome Tereza !!!!


Shintaido Instructional Video: Eiko Dai, A Fundamental Shintaido Technique

Shintaido Instructional Video: Eiko Dai, A Fundamental Shintaido Technique

As I’m writing this, the Covid-19 virus is spreading rapidly in many parts of the world and there are a lot of restrictions on various kinds of public gatherings and meetings. There are limits on the number of people who can gather, even for outdoor exercise. Of course, this means people are spending a lot more time at home or alone. Here in the Czech Republic, there was a two-week ban on singing in music classes in elementary schools, high schools, and music conservatories, because using your voice — singing or yelling — can spread the virus.

Considering that using an expansive voice is a component of two of the three fundamental techniques in Shintaido, and also feeling that this whole situation is making many people want to scream at the top of their lungs, I decided this would be a good time to encourage people to practice Eiko Dai — the signature Shintaido technique in which one runs far and yells loudly — safely. So, I made a video about doing Eiko outdoors alone, and also about how to do the miniaturized « bonsai » versions, Daijodan kirioroshi and Daijodan kirikomi musubidachi.

Also, the video includes an example of doing Eiko with the bokutoh, the unique type of wooden sword used in Shintaido.  I show demonstrate how to grip the bokutoh properly and glance at the different shapes of the traditional katana (metal sword), the traditional bokken (wooden sword), and the unique Shintaido-style bokutoh.

General instructor David Franklin

A few years ago, I completed a master’s degree at Université Paris 8 St-Denis, where Pierre Quettier, a long-time Shintaido instructor, became my thesis advisor. The theme of my thesis was about types of knowledge that are usually only communicated face-to-face. What types of things can you only learn when you are physically in the same room with the teacher? What are the things that normally cannot be recorded by a video camera, and why?

These questions were incorporated into the process of making the video. One of the tricks I used, was that while making the video, I was also live-streaming the practice and had a few people participating. I had my phone (for the Internet streaming) and a video camera recording at the same time. Psychologically, this put me into a more familiar mental space. Rather than performing for the camera, I had to teach the class « in real time » for the people who were participating remotely. This made me speak and present the techniques in a more natural way, while still trying to be aware of the fact that I was communicating through the medium of the camera and the Internet.

But rather than posting the recording of the whole practice unedited, I then went to the studio and the editing console and made a more finished product. I added a few close-ups and different camera angles of technical details that I couldn’t shoot out in the field. I also « opened the curtain » and revealed myself in the role of video editor. Instead of the video editing process being a kind of hidden « magic, » I wanted to increase the audience’s awareness that the video they are watching has been crafted and designed to present the information to them in the best way possible.

General instructor David Franklin

Finally, I added subtitles — in English. Why would I add subtitles in English, when I’m speaking English in the video? I believe this could increase the online « reach » of the video. It’s called the « world wide web » because it is in fact world-wide, and that means it’s possible that people in many countries may see the video. My experience as an English teacher in the Czech Republic has shown me that many people can read English better than they can understand spoken English, and often people studying English enjoy watching videos in English with English subtitles so that they can learn pronunciation and improve their ability to understand spoken English. It’s a way to improve access for people who are not native English speakers, without actually translating the subtitles into a foreign language.

My hope is that people will not just enjoy the video, but that it will inspire them to get up early in the morning when there are not many people around and go out to a place where they can safely use their voices to the fullest extent. In my opinion, shouting at the sky is incredibly beneficial to both the body and the psyche, and it’s worth the effort.

Here’s the video:

* Written, performed, shot, and edited by David Franklin. Featured book: « Shintaido: The Body is a Message of the Universe » by Hiroyuki Aoki, English trans. by H.F. Ito and Michael Thompson. Music: « Future Gladiator » by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com), licensed under Creative Commons: by attribution 3.0 http://creastivecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/