The 3rd FEJ Jodo Seminar in Helsinki and Helsinki Kobudo Embu Taikai

January, 16th to 18th 2015

For this winter seminar we decided to do something special and invite two official teachers instead of just one. The visiting teachers were Fred Quant and Michael Söderkvist who now has taught on all three seminars in our country. Due to Fred's visit, this seminar was the very first pure Shinto Muso-ryu gasshuku (not seitei/other + SMR) led by somebody with a menkyo kaiden in Finland, as far as I can confirm.
This is surprising because there have been minor attempts to establish regular training in different lines of Shinto Muso-ryu in Finland from as early as the 1970s, albeit the nature of training typically has had difficulties reaching beyond the experimental level. Safe to say, this is not the case with our group!

As before, we had an open day for visitors, i.e. people who do not practice Shinto Muso-ryu in the EJF. This time, however, there were only two visitors - one of which was a friend from the Finnish seitei community who has attended all of our open days. The low number of visitors of course wasn't too much of a problem to us if one thinks about it: more teachers, less students! On the other hand, the number of actual EJF people had increased from previous seminars. As we did last year, we again welcomed Andrey and Dmitri from St. Petersburg.

The seminar was held at a fascinating place called the Cable Factory that once was an actual cable factory but has since been turned into a culture center. The training took place in an aikido dojo with enough space for a group of our size and big mirrors. During the first day we went through kihon sotai getting vital corrections. Most of the training took place on the second day, and that's when we went through Omote and Chudan with a chance to learn new kata. Our friend from seitei was very pleased with Fred's clear and informative approach to teaching each kata. The day ended with a promotion exam where Mika and Otava received their 5. kyu grades and Jaakko and Minna received their 3. kyu grades. My congratulations to everybody!

On the third day those of us who were familiar with, or ready to be introduced to, continued to Ranai. The seminar ended with bows, kind words and gifts. The teachers were given Finnish arctic knives as tokens of our gratitude. Samurai swords play no role in the Finnish history but the knife comes as close to its spirit as possible! Once the gasshuku was closed, we headed to the Steiner school where the Helsinki Kobudo Embu Taikai was once again held. Nine authentic schools of koryu bujutsu gave a 15-minute demonstration of their technical curriculum. Fred and Michael demonstrated jojutsu, kenjutsu, tanjojutsu, juttejutsu and kusarigamajutsu at this event.

The seminar was a success and showed that we have no problems arranging seminars with more than one teacher. It sure is a blessing that we have teachers of this caliber so close by and available. I once more wish to thank Fred Quant, Michael Söderkvist and everyone that attended this wonderful event. Let us meet again soon and build bridges through the training of jo.

Nino Lindström, Helsinki Jodokai