Yasuko Kimura, headmistress of the Tendo Ryu School in Japan, gives instruction to students during a seminar last month in Southern California.

The Southern California Naginata Federation had the honor of hosting a Tendo Ryu naginata seminar on Aug. 26 at Butokuden in Irvine and Aug. 27 at the Gardena Valley Japanese Cultural Institute.

The events were led by Yasuko Kimura Soke, 17th headmistress of the Tendo Ryu School founded in 1581 in Japan. She also conducted the first Zoom session from the Torrance Naginata Dojo on Thursday night, which was viewed in real time in Japan.

Tendo Ryu is one of the oldest of the classical naginata arts practiced today. There are over 200 kata featuring weapons such as the naginata, sword, jo (mid-length staff), kusarigama and short swords such as the nitto, tanto, kaiken and kodachi.

The emphasis of this martial art school is to learn the weapons as used in real battles, performing the naginata katas with the intensity and feeling of actual combat. The weapons used are made from Japanese oak.

Yuri Kimura and Mitsuru Kimura demonstrate techniques in one of the oldest of the classical naginata arts practiced today.

Some 30 participants from Southern California as well as others from Northern California, Arizona and Nebraska participated in the intense two-day seminar.

Kimura Soke emphasized learning the proper execution of the katas taught previously, as well as new katas with other weapons.

It is a rare honor to have Kimura Soke personally teach all levels of practitioners. Her mission is to preserve and spread the Tendo Ryu naginata tradition in Japan and internationally, so that this classical Japanese martial art system continues its 450-year-old tradition.

Kimura Sokese was assisted by her daughter, Yuri Kimura, and her grandson, Mitsuru. They were hosted by Helen Nakano, chief instructor of the Southern California Naginata Federation.

For more information about naginata, visit the Southern California Naginata Federation website at www.scnf.org.

Photos courtesy Cathy Mikuni

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