5th Taikai - Takenouchi-Hangan-Ryu-Matsuno-Crandall
SAMURAI SWORD COMPETITION HELD IN NEW HARTFORD, NY
The Samurai's way of life can be seen through the disciplined art of the sword.
On Saturday, August 19th, the fifth Takenouchi-Hangan-Ryu-Matsuno-Crandall Taikai (competition) took place at the American Martial Arts Institute in New Hartford.
The first Taikai of this nature on the East Coast was held under the direction of Master Fumio Demura and Headmaster Clifford Crandall in 2014 in Utica. With the tragic illness and passing of Master Demura earlier this year, Headmaster Crandall has strived to ensure this traditional Japanese competition continues and remains available for the public.
Competitors from New Hampshire, Albany, Oswego, across New York State, and locally competed in iaido and batto. Iaido is an ancient martial art that teaches the use of the Japanese sword (katana and wakizashi), and while in modern times it is a seemingly impractical Art, it becomes practical in daily life because it moves the practitioner beyond the physical movements of the sword into a state of calmness within action.
Its philosophy and tradition help the individual to cultivate a personal strength that can make a difference in the student's personal commitments and community involvement.
The competition involved men and women over the age of 21 demonstrating their skills in a 300-year-old samurai sword martial arts style in four different divisions: katas, kumi tachi, mutodori, and batto. The use of live samurai swords (katanas) makes this competition very exciting and intense.
Kata are one of the most traditional and visually obvious parts of iaido. They are a series of moves that fight off imaginary attackers. In the case of the sword, it can involve a single draw, cut, and re-sheathing of the sword, or it can involve multiple blocks or cuts.
Muto Dori is often thought of as defending yourself against a sword when you do not have one in your own hands, but this aspect of traditional iaido starts with having the courage to face an opponent.
Kumi tachi are sword practice drills with a partner, and for the competition were done using wooden swords (bokken) for added safety.
Batto involves cutting what is often referred to as a reed post. These are a type of grass (reed) that are woven into mats. These mats are then rolled into cylinders (posts), tied, and soaked in water to increase their density. They are then cut using the sword. The participants are scored on the angle and order of the cuts and how far from the post the cut portion falls, and other skill factors.
While overseen by Headmaster Crandall, the taikai was coordinated by his top iaido student, Kyoshi Nathan Morris. His responsibilities involved everything from the condition of the cutting stands; obtaining, rolling and preparing reeds for cutting; registration; preparation of competition materials; weapons check; and judging.
The picture to the right is Headmaster Clifford C. Crandall Jr. (left) and Kyoshi Nathan Morris (right) in their ceremonial dress uniforms.
This picture was taken the morning of August 19, 2023 as these two individuals prepared to judge the 5th Tai Kai tournament held by the Takenouchi-Hangan-Ryu-Matsuno-Crandall school of Iaido and Batto-do.
Beginner's Kata: Erica Miscione
Intermediate Kata: Bret Jessee
Advanced Kata: Sabrina Crandall
Intermediate Kumi Tachi: Matthew Strachen
Advanced Kumi Tachi: Amanda Crandall
Intermediate Muto Dori: Matthew Strachen
Advanced Muto Dori: Eric Stalloch
Intermediate Batto: Matthew Strachen
Advanced Batto: Amanda Crandall
The next taikai will be held on May 17, 2025.