Darlington Seminar 2010

Well, I finally got there! After months of work sorting out venues and liaising with BKA powers that be, the Darlington Seminar hit town. To help with costs Bill and I put up a few MJER high grades; Peter West stayed with BIll, whilst Fay Goodman and Anna Stone stopped at my house (as did one of my students, Kim, who lives in a field somewhere in deepest darkest Yorkshire...or Aysgarth as it is known to the locals).

And whilst many were working there way North (or maybe South) a few MJER dojo leaders had a practice that had been arranged by Bill for Friday night. Fay let peter take charge as he had the most recent information from Oshita Sensei and we had a fun few hours. Martin Chambers was late but found us eventually; and then joined in the fun with Peter, Fay, Anna, Bill, Phil Henderson, Paul Evans and I.

Saturday. Phil Henderson came round to my house to collect Fay and Anna (who were all going to the Darlington College). By then I had already been to Morrisons to collect lunches for the Sensei both there and with me at the Education Village.

Phil told me later that the koryu session run by Fay and Anna was very fast paced.

In the meantime, I was taking registration at the Education Village; it never ceases to amaze me how many people cannot follow instructions - I had to re-direct at least a dozen people back to the Darlington College!!


Anyhoo. Jock Sensei decided that rather than split up our Iaido groups (those taking Ikkyu and Shodan gradings), we would train them altogether. This was only my second time teaching at a seminar like this; but Jock Sensei trusted me to demonstrate a couple of forms, and Bill got a couple to do as well.

Budokan had a few people in this group - Kim Ralls who aspired to Ikkyu, Andy Gardner and Kevin Ainsley who were going for Shodan as well as Mark Ralston, Phil Johnson and Eddie Hodgson who were there just for the training. Poor sods looked totally knackered at the end of Saturday!!!!

Saturday night and we hit the Half Moon big style and had loads of beer and then a Chinese along the road. We hadn't booked, but bless 'em they seated us upstairs in a special suite. Kev and Andy were there from Ojika dojo - Kev brought his wife, which was great as it gave Bill a chance to nonce over the poor girl!!!!


Sunday. Grading day and a pre- match pep talk from Jock Sensei along the lines of ....you are all shite and going to fail! Nothing like an old school pep talk huh? So we set about doing lots of grading practice and everyone did get much better.

Lunchtime and I am running round like a mad thing - organising tables for the grading tables; liaising with Judy Farncombe who is grading officer for the first time, sorting out stuff with Andy Watson, getting peoples lunches etc etc. (John Meikle kindly gave up a table he was using to sell his stuff for us to use as a grading table).


John also doubled as Tachi-Ai for the Ikkyu graders and Bill and I were on the panel for this group. Kim was a clear pass, as was our friend from Ojika, Andy Wilson (or big Willy as he is trying to get us all to call him..............not a chance!!!). But some were not so good and we had to fail a few people; I hope it hasn't put them off as all they need is a bit more practice!


Behind us the Dan gradings took place and we had Phil Burbury taking 3rd dan, Tracy Foster taking 2nd dan, Andy Gardner and Kevin Ainsley taking 1st dan. Not sure why Phil and Tracy didn't pass (the grading panel didn't seem to know either) but hey-ho these things happen. But we did get some good news in that both Andy and Kevin passed. I didn't see their gradings as I was busy on the other grading panel at the time but I have seen footage from a film taken. Andy was shaking like a leaf and Kevin decided to have a conversation with the Grading panel!!!! I was talking to both afterwards and Kevin was certain he only did four kata; he was so certain that because of this he had failed that he went to get changed and was about to go home when I saw his number on the board indicating he had passed. I had to send someone to go and get him. His face was a picture.


And the thing is... Kevin had actually done 5 kata and was a clear pass!


So another great seminar; I hope everyone enjoyed it! A long rest for Leeboy now.


Lee Mountain