Text by Nina Yaroshevich (Iaido 3rd Dan)
Part 1. The Beginning
In 2009 after a long break in budo practice (8 years had passed since I've been practicing Shito-ryu karatedo yet in the USSR), I took a decision to return to martial arts. I found one martial arts club not far from my home. Thus I discovered for myself these wonderful martial arts and started practicing kendo and iaido in Moscow Kendo and Iaido Club (MKKI). Iaido trainings were under supervision of Michael Shtapov (now iaido 4th dan).
I got carried away. In MKKI were engaged people of all ages. The atmosphere was amazing and trainings were interesting.
In April 2010 Patrik Demuynck-sensei (Renshi iaido 7th dan) came to Moscow and held iaido seminar. On the last day of the seminar Patrick-sensei demonstrated Tamiya-ryu iaido koryu techniques. Sensei's Embu had an unforgettable impression on the participants, especially on beginners.
Two years later Patrik-sensei held a iaido seminar in the most famous technical university in Russia – Bauman Moscow State Technical University (Bauman MSTU). At this meeting students of the university for the first time got acquainted with the beautiful martial art performed by the famous European iaidoka.
The idea to make it possible for students, graduate students, the university lecturers and staff to practice kendo and iaido had already appeared in 2010. At that time I worked in the Bauman University.
With support of heads and instructors of University Department of Sports and Recreation, University Trade Union and my participation, iaido section was created in the Department of Sports and Recreation in October 2011.
In the beginning of 2012 Oleg Lapshov became the first iaido instructor, starting it's progressive development throughout the university.
Part 2. Iaido 1st Dan Grading in Paris and 1st Russian Open Iaido Tournament
In late 2010 I passed iaido grading exam for 1st dan.
Alex Fomichev (a member of MKKI) was helping me to prepare for the grading (which was held during the 17th European Iaido Championship in Paris (EIC). He was very passionate about kendo and iaido and showed rapid progress in iaido training. At the EIC Alex received Fighting Spirit Trophy in Team Competition. There were only two people in the team: Alex and me.
The best members of European iaido society were gathered at the EIC. The atmosphere at the competition in Paris was just amazing. There I saw leading European Senseis for the first time. Among them were Aad van de Wijngaart-sensei, Patrik Demuynck-sensei, Jock Hopson-sensei, whom I had seen before. There were also senseis whom I had heard about but I saw them for the first time. These were Fay Goodman-sensei and Rene van Amersfoort-sensei.
I had planned to take part only in iaido seminar, but everything turned out a different way. Ruslan Aloev, the President of Russian Kendo, Iaido and Jodo Federation (RKF) allowed me to take part in the iaido 1st dan grading. Now 5 years later I can say that if it were not for this examination in Paris, there wouldn't be Bauman MSTU Kendo and Iaido Team nor Bauman University Kendo and Iaido Club BaumanKan.
Part 3. 1st Russian Open Iaido Tournament
In April 2011 in Moscow hosted the 1st Russian Iaido Open Tournament.
The tournament was an event of great importance for RFK. There was a possibility to grade up to the 5th dan. Until that time there were no such grand events in Russia. Many Russian iaidokas could have seen well-known European senseis for the first time.
The championship gave a new impetus to the development of iaido in Russia.
Part 4. Budo Camp The Art of Japanese Sword and the Iaido 2nd Dan Grading in Athens
In late 2011 I found out in the internet about a budo camp in Bulgaria. It was organized by Leonid Karavaev (iaido 4th dan, kendo 3rd dan). Leonid and his charming wife Alena moved to Varna from Novosibirsk. It was quite difficult for them to organize an international budo camp for fans of martial arts. He had been practicing iaido and kendo since 1999. I started a correspondence with him.
I came at my first budo camp in August 2012. A seminar was held by Karl Dannecker-sensei (Renshi iaido 6th dan, Renshi jodo 6th dan) from Germany. I brought back home a lot of video and good impressions.
In 2014 Varna Budo Camp celebrated its 5th anniversary. Leonid managed to do an incredible amount of work for its development. I am very grateful to him for helping in the development of our club too.
In 2014 Leonid wrote a book (Methodic Recommendations for Iaido Training (Entry Level). This book will further help in promotion of iaido in the Bauman MSTU.
Participation in the budo camp helped me in preparing for my iaido 2nd dan exam. The grading was held during the seminar held by Oda Katsuo-sensei (Hanshi iaido 8th dan, Kioshi Kendo 7th dan) in October 2012 in Athens. The seminars under the guidance Oda-sensei are held annually at that time in the Greece capital. Usually they are organized by Spiros Dragopopulos. He is the head of Furyu Dojo Athens.
Oda-sensei had personally paid attention to Russian iaidokas. It also helped me to pass the grading exam.
Part 5. Ide Tomota-sensei Seminar in Moscow
At the end of 2012 was announced a coming iaido seminar under the guidance of Ide Tomota-sensei (Hanshi iaido 8th dan).
The seminar was organized by members of the Martial Arts Club Shobukai. The seminar was hold in a 30 km from Moscow. We lived in a hotel and trained three times a day. The seminar was very interesting. I had taken a lot of photos and videos which later motivated me in my personal trainings.
Partying with us Ide sensei thanked the participants and said: "Iaido practice will make our life better".
In early 2013 Oleg Lapshov and I left MKKI and focused on promotion of iaido and kendo in Bauman University. I was engaged more into administrative work and Oleg into training process.
Part 6. Andrey Arefyev Club Eishinkai
In June 2012 a Moscow budo club "Eishinkai" celebrated its 10th anniversary. An experienced instructor and head of this club Andrey Arefyev (iaido 5th dan, jodo 4th dan) held an iaido seminar.
Participation in this event helped me to get a good competitive experience as well as helped a lot for my technique development.
Since 2013 Oleg and I are often taking part in trainings in Andrey's club.
I am grateful to Andrey for the assistance he provided during my preparation for the certification for the 3rd dan. I am also grateful to him for friendly atmosphere in the Club, for his patience and good attitude to everyone without exception. Andrey regularly holds iaido seminars in the Bauman MSTU. They are a significant contribute to the development of students' iaido.
Part 7. 2nd All-Russian Open Iaido Tournament
In April 2013 Moscow hosted the 2nd All-Russian Open Iaido Tournament.
RFK granted a place for students of the Bauman MSTU to take part in this Tournament. There were four people in the team: two students, Oleg Lapshov and me (as a reserve participant).
It was great event for the students as it was their first participation in the main iaido event in Russia.
Part 8. Rene van Amersfoort-sensei
For the further development it was necessary for us to take participation in seminars in Europe (senseis are rarely visiting Moscow, what of course isn't great for the development of iaido here).
In 2012 I fortunately obtained a Schengen visa for 5 years and visiting Europe became easier for me. Since then, I attended several iaido seminars under supervision of Rene-sensei in Bulgaria.
Rene-sensei is a gifted and artistic person. It gives a special atmosphere to his seminars. Seminars pass as they say in one breath. I get a lot of new information and try to keep in mind as much as I can.
In June 2014 Oleg Lapshov successfully passed his exam for the iaido 3rd dan in Villingen (Germany).
During Varna Summer Budo Camp in August 2014 me and Oleg asked Rene-sensei to accept us as his students. After some time he agreed. It was very happy and pleasant! We immediately published information on our club's website that it is from now on following Rene-sensei's line.
Part 9. The 21st European Iaido Championships in Finland
Then the time has come for my 3rd dan exam. It was planned on 21st European Iaido Championships in Finland in autumn 2014.
In the first day of the seminar I could watch a practice of European senseis. And after that also trainings of several well-known iaidokas supervised by Rene-sensei.
In the last Sunday Rene-sensei prepared Danielle Borra and Philippe Merlier to their exams. Rene-sensei allowed me to train together with this group. I was not deprived of his attention. Under the guidance of Rene-sensei I tried to correct my technique, especially the 1st and 10th katas. I had problems with my balance and other things, had a sore knee, etc...
It is believed that examinations held during championship are harder to pass. But I did it, I have passed the exam!
The life is going on and we have new plans. In September 2014 a new instructor start working in the Department of Sports and Recreation of Bauman University – Victor Galushko (iaido 4th dan, kendo 4th dan). He also gave a new stimulus to the development of kendo and iaido in the university. Some students are already showing good progress.
In future these young people will be able to integrate organically into the amazing world of kendo and iaido.
We wish them success!
Photo by Eugene Rozov, Olga Egova, Michel Brisset, Ivaiyla Ivanova, Tatiana Luytkevich,
Nina Yaroshevich, Marina Savinskaya, Paul Tolkachev, Aton Fedotov.