Located in Briarcliff Manor, New York, just 45 minutes from Manhattan, Edith Macy Center is situated among 405 wooded acres on a mountainside in the heart of Westchester County.
Together with 80 other students and instructors we gathered on Friday 28 June to begin a weekend of intensive karate training under our Grand-master, Kaicho Nakamura, 9th degree black belt and one of the top traditional Japanese karate instructors in the world today.
Our day started at 4.00 a.m. We met on the hill behind the conference centre and meditated until sunrise. It was a wonderful opportunity to become one with nature. Sitting still rarely happens in our hectic lives and for some is very hard to do. You must concentrate on deep breathing which we call Ibuki and clear your mind. It is a cleansing process and sitting still in the kneeling position can be excruciating painful until you transcend the pain. This is a method taught to Buddhist monks and one which we practice in Seido karate.
At 5.30 a.m we began our group training led by Kaicho and trained for nearly an hour in basic Seido techniques seeking to ensure that they were done with power and focus. We then split into seminar groups and I led one of the seminars aimed to teach the students how to work with a partner at very close range and control their actions by manipulating limbs in a method that we call rolling hands which is based on a very old set of moves found in a kata (prearranged attacking and defensive moves) called Tensho.
Breakfast followed and it was the great American breakfast but we were hungry enough to devour it. The morning then consisted of more seminars and I, together with all the 5th Dan karateka and above had special tuition in the art of Seido sword drawing known as Iaido. This reaches back to the samurai tradition of the sword and there are many schools that instruct and teach the art of the sword. It is a fascinating art that combines body and mind in way that it is difficult to explain. You just have to do it.
In the afternoon we split into teams and I was our team 4 supervisor with an excellent captain and vice captain to take the strain for me. We were set a range of task to complete and there was a real fun element to the camp that encouraged students to get to know each other and challenge themselves in a variety of ways. We repeated the pattern on Sunday before leaving for New York. It was great weekend and I was able to rekindle old friendships and make many new ones.
Kaicho calls it, The Human Face of Karate where difference doesn’t mean deficit and there is a placed for everyone who wants to improve themselves.
Our HQ will have to relocate in December this year as our landlord in Manhattan wants to redevelop the building that we have been in since I have been training for over 35 years. There will be many challenges ahead as Manhattan is frighteningly expensive to find new premises in but we are the World Seido Karate Organisation and will meet this challenge and view it as a new opportunity to take us forward into 2020.
Our UK clubs continue to thrive and we have over 600 students in the UK training with nearly 400 students in schools programmes. Locally we have adult and children’s classes at Hughenden Valley, Great Kingshill, Lacey Green and Tylers Green where newcomers are always welcome. Teaching at HQ in Manhattan Training in the UK at a special event.
Roger Thyer Jones
6th Dan World Seido Karate Organisation UK