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The September edition of Sword and Spirit has been posted. In “Reflections…Our 30th Anniversary,” Itten Dojo chief instructor Robert Wolfe looks back on three decades since the founding of the dojo, noting some of the individuals most responsible for its success and the senior instructors taking us into the future. Download the newsletter by joining the Sword and Spirit group on Facebook, or directly from our website, at https://www.ittendojo.org/dbfiles/download/swordandspirit/pdf/59. All back issues of Sword and Spirit are available at https://www.ittendojo.org/articles/swordandspirit. #ittendojo #aikijutsu #kenjutsu #iaido #shodo
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Myths of Self-defense by Robert Wolfe Many people seeking martial arts training cite gaining the ability to defend themselves as their primary motivation, while almost everyone seeking training includes “self-defense” capability somewhere in their list of goals. Persons training long-term typically come to recognize a wide range of benefits far exceeding in everyday utility the value of being able to fight and, for them, the ability to defend against an attack is almost a side-effect of their training. Those just starting out and seeking self-defense skills, however, face a bewildering sea of choices in types of arts and methodologies, choices that are further confused by the conflicting claims of different arts to be “the most effective self-defense known to man.” It’s also true that most inexperienced people focused on self-defense typically harbor serious misperceptions regarding the nature of violence and the types of threats one is realistically most likely to face. These misperce
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 The rebirth of Itten Dojo is much more than simply an evolution in the arts we practice. I’ve heard it said many times, in many different contexts, “When the student is ready the teacher will appear.” As circumstances forced us to take a hard look at what we were doing — and more importantly, why we were doing it — we realized that we had become even more strongly focused on making a positive impact on the lives of the members of the dojo than we had been already. We had entirely left behind any notion of producing students to “serve the ryu,” in favor of utilizing the ryu to serve the members. To be very clear: the heritage martial arts *must* be preserved, absolutely intact in their austere and rigorous demands, but the overarching justification for that preservation is its utility as a vehicle to help people improve their lives. I’ll never forget the five minutes at the conclusion of the weekend that was our formal start of iaido training with Nicklaus Suino Sensei, during which he
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The June 2022 edition of Sword and Spirit has been posted. In “The Dojo Superstar, or the Talented Destroyer,” Itten Dojo visiting instructor and frequent contributor Salahuddin Muhammad Sensei examines the potential ill effects of such individuals, in the first of a series of essays addressing personality types to be found within a dojo. Muhammad Sensei is chief instructor of the Takeshin Dojo, director of the Nihonden Aikibujutsu Senyokai, and overseas director (Nihon jujutsu division) for the Japanese Budo Association under his teacher, Asano Yasuhito Sensei. Download the newsletter by joining the Sword and Spirit group on Facebook, or directly from our website, at https://www.ittendojo.org/dbfiles/download/swordandspirit/pdf/56. All back issues of Sword and Spirit are available at https://www.ittendojo.org/articles/swordandspirit. #ittendojo #aikijutsu #kenjutsu #iaido
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The May edition of Sword and Spirit has been posted. In this issue, Itten Dojo chief instructor Robert Wolfe presents a photo-essay detailing a “Renzoku-waza Drill,” a “continuous-techniques” exercise. As we move forward with the process of revamping our practice of aikijutsu, a major focus is structuring kihon (fundamentals) and introductory material to provide new students with skills and techniques that can be applied in practical, personal defense very early in their training. This drill is a step in that direction. Download the newsletter by joining the Sword and Spirit group on Facebook, or directly from our website, at https://www.ittendojo.org/.../download/swordandspirit/pdf/55 . All back issues of Sword and Spirit are available at https://www.ittendojo.org/articles/swordandspirit .
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  Lessons from the Gorin no Sho (the Book of Five Rings )   A glance at the rack of new bestsellers in any book store will reveal a rash of “self-help” books, all of which profess to offer the reader a practical guide to everyday life. These books advocate every conceivable behavioral pattern, but they share the common factor of having been written, for the most part, by persons who have no more than an academic claim to any special way of life. In contrast, consider the following: 400 years ago, a guide to kenjutsu, strategy, and life was written by an old hermit who lived his last years in a cave. He based his observations on experiences gained over a lifetime spent surviving one of the most violent eras of human history, the years leading to the establishment of the Tokugawa Shogunate in Japan. Musashi’s Gorin no Sho is unique, in that it treats fighting, strategy, and life as one, condensing the underlying principles that are common to each.   Read more at https://www.ittendo
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  KAKEMONO OF THE MONTH — MAY 2022 Or probably more like a-month-and-a-half. Maybe two months. Almost certainly longer. This antique scroll, an original work by an artist we’ve not yet identified, was presented to the dojo very recently by Jevin Orcutt, in commemoration of what he called “the rebirth of the dojo.” Now, you might assume he’s referring to training picking up again after the pandemic-related events of the past two years. But that’s not it. Although virtually nothing about the dojo is the same as it was at the end of 2019, it’s for reasons having nothing whatsoever to do with the pandemic. For us, the past two years have been more like a gestation period from which we emerged with new arts, new affiliations, new instructors, new friends, new members, and a greatly enhanced sense of purpose. Later this year the dojo will enter its fourth decade of existence, focused on providing the central Pennsylvania area access to the finest training available in classical Japanese mart