This years Shin-nen-Keiko started with the task of carrying loads of pellets for the heating furnace. For the Stockholm group, I expect this was a welcome warmup after the five hour drive to Rävlanda. Everyone participated with high spirits and it was good to get moving for a bit before the customary but ever surprising annual written exam.
This year's test was about the fundamental principles of the training, and I think that everyone could understand Sensei Marshall's meaning with those specific questions. After this, everyone undoubtedly felt that they had earned a nice dinner in pleasant company served by Sensei and his wife in the Dojo.
After dinner it was time for presentations of the contributions sent in by all the members to summarize the inspiration and new knowledge from the past year of training. As always, everyone had put a lot of heart into the contributions, and this year the written texts had started to take a bigger part in many of the presentations.
Sensei, as always, was keen to ask questions of everyone in order to find out the deeper meaning of their respective efforts, and this led to many interesting discussions. The theme for next year will be Simplicity.
Congratulations are in order for Esko Karjalainen who received the grade of Mokuroku (3rd Dan), deservedly after many years of diligent training. It is an honour and a privilege to be a part of a training group where everyone has such an extensive experience of Yoshinken, as well as other forms of Budo and Wushu.
Sunday morning presented us with a magnificent winter spectacle, in which Sensei had prepared his Japanese garden with candles and lanterns.
The training began with standing in Ritsu-zen, but it was not long until Sensei could no longer contain himself from going around and testing every kamae, offering advice and excercises to improve the quality of our training. Thereafter followed traditional Yuri and Hai, with slight modifications to account for the snowy ground.
To me, the highlight of every Shinen keiko is when all participants in order perform Tanshu in front of the group. It is amazing to see the progress that has been made by everyone over the last year, not to mention over the last ten years.
A new element this year was the chance to do another Tanshu with the same theme as the first; An opportunity to correct the final small mistakes and to get inspiration from the other exhibitions. Finally, we did a bit of paired Kobudo training, today with Bokken versus Jo. A brief taste of the theme for this years Kobudo training.
Eventually, we accompanied the Stockholm group a bit on their way and stopped for brunch at a café in Borås. After a very pleasant time of discussion it was no mean feat to urge ourselves to once again part for our respective trips home. As always I would like to direct a profound thank you to Sensei Marshall and all you others who made Shinen Keiko 2016 into a perfect start for the training year.
I hope we will all meet again during the year and that we will have the good fortune to train together for many years to come.
Filip Olow Mokuroku San dan