Welcome back to our returning members and a warm welcome to all our new members! Thank you to everyone who made it to our first practice of the year! The school year is ramping up and so is McGill Naginata. While the weather is still suitable, we will be holding practice outdoors at Jeanne-Mance park on the field across the street from the statue on:
Please note that Covid-19 precautions are in effect; masks and vaccine passports are required at practice. Stay tuned for more information on the announcement of indoor practices and upcoming events!
Last March, COVID-19 profoundly impacted the ways in which we interact and practice together. Through the enduring commitment of our club members, the club has made strides towards adapting and scaling down our social events, practices, and even tournaments to a virtual setting. As the saying goes… the show must go on! With that being said, I present to you the 2021 Winter Classic Taikai!
This one year anniversary marks a particularly meaningful time to get together again as we couldn’t let a pandemic get in the way of the third annual Winter Classic. Reflecting back, this year has no doubt presented its challenges, but also gives us the time to reimagine how we want our naginata to look and feel once we return to regular practice. What’s a better way to let that manifest than through creative kata and rhythm naginata?
Division I Creative Kata 1st Place: Daiki Siegert-Iriyama & Birgit Siegert-Iriyama 2nd Place: Joanna Nguyen & Akiko Nakagawa 3rd Place: Jordan Macklem & Richard Yang
Division II Rhythm Naginata 1st Place: Daiki Siegert-Iriyama & Birgit Siegert-Iriyama 2nd Place: Lutan Liu & Tomas Almonte
Division III Teach Naginata 1st Place: Lutan Liu 2nd Place: Tomas Almonte 3rd Place: Simon Bruins
People’s Choice Awards:
Division I Creative Kata • Spin to Win Award – Best Use of Circular Motion:Daiki Siegert-Iriyama & Birgit Siegert-Iriyama “You spin me right ’round baby, right ’round.” • That Aggro Spirit – Most Deadly:Daiki Siegert-Iriyama & Birgit Siegert-Iriyamatied withTomas Almonte & Lutan Liu • Most Realistic – Actually Useful in Shiai: Tomas Almonte & Lutan Liu •The Kendo Award – y’all came on so strong I thought it was Kendo:(three-way tie) Jeremy Frandon & Jaime Little Lutan Liu & Jason Lujan Simon Bruins & Michael Luo
Division II Rhythm Naginata • Showmanship ‘Shomen-ship’ Award (Individual award): Daiki Siegert-Iriyama “No better showman.” •Best Overall Group Appearance:Daiki Siegert-Iriyama & Birgit Siegert-Iriyama • The Oscar Award – Most Cinematic:Lutan Liu & Tomas Almonte “Artistic fades and masks on trees… wonderful stuff.” • The Banger Award – Best Musical Selection: Machigai Sagashi (Masuki Suda) – Lutan Liu & Tomas Almonte “The kinda song where you’re crying, but also slow head banging.”
Division III Teach Naginata •Future Sensei Award – Most Knowledgeable:Simon Bruins (current?) Sensei “A knowledgeable man.” •Super Sunday Sunshine Award – Most Inspiring:Lutan Liu “Rainbows and sparkles and tenouchi – oh my!” •Most Creative:Tomas Almonte “I didn’t know I needed this kind of laundry tutorial in my life.”
Congratulations to all those who participated! It was truly inspiring to witness the innovation and creativity behind each and every single entry. I would also like to extend a sincere thank you to all organizers and shinpans for their assistance in seamlessly running the event and also to the attendees, without which none of this would have been possible. Seeing everybody, even through a screen after such a long while, was incredibly nostalgic. After all, it’s being able to meet our friends from the CNF across Canada, both new and old, that’s the highlight of all tournaments!
The great news is that the temperate temperatures are beginning to creep its way back in. With the optimism of a warm spring ahead of us, let’s keep our fingers crossed for the time when we can come out of hibernation and safely practice once again.
Disclaimer: All entries were entered via video submission format this year in compliance with social distancing regulations.
Most unfortunately, we will not be holding open practices, official practices, and fun events like Shinjin Taikai and the much anticipated CNF seminar and taikai this Fall 2020 semester.
Fear not though, for we are all still here! For advanced naginata enthusiasts, for beginners who are hoping to join the club, and even for those who are still unsure of what this all is still, we are running online sessions every Wednesday evening from 6-8pm EST.
These are virtual events we organized for you to see what practicing naginata is like and to learn about the culture behind this wonderful martial art. Not only that, it’s a great opportunity to meet and chat with the wonderful people that make up our club.
Come on out, take a break from your video lectures (or jobs), and hang out with us. We look forward to seeing you all!
What an eventful year it has been! As we prepare to open up a new semester, let’s do a quick recap on what McGill Naginata has been up to this past year.
Winding down from World’s, we continued to train hard, welcomed new beginners, and held our Fall 2019 Shinjin Taikai. It’s as always, a lovely way for our kouhais (junior members) to demonstrate the fruits of their training.
In October, our members helped organize the second Martial Arts Day at McGill. It was amazing to see so many students come out to give everything a try. Additionally, we were joined by McGill Aikido, McGill Kendo Club, and the McGill Jukendo and Tankendo club. Each club was able to showcase their art at the end and what an amazing demo it was. Overall, it was a very successful day and we hope that this event further bolstered their interest and awareness of the martial arts.
Coming up was the annual CNF seminar and taikai. It was held in Toronto so we had the pleasure of taking a road trip there. What’s a better way for everyone to bond than a four hour car ride with good snacks, good music, and most importantly, great company?
It’s so exciting to see the development of the Canadian Naginata community. From all the memorable fights we witnessed, CNF’s high caliber is clear for all to see. We observed over 60 competitors this year, each and every one displaying amazing talent and potential. CNF will always be something to look forward to every year.
We opened up 2020 with yet another Shinjin Taikai. As it’s stipulated that kouhai can only compete if they have been in bogu for three semesters or less, we’ll need to start prepping our new kouhai for bogu otherwise we won’t have enough competitors for the next Shinjin Taikai!
In February, Rachel Hahn-Morris, President of the British Naginata Association and chief instructor of the London Naginata Dojo came to visit us. Although it was only one practice, our members surely learned a lot from her in bogu practice and jigeiko.
Soon after came the notorious gasshuku (training camp). What’s notable is that it was our first ever gasshuku away from Montreal and the McGill gym. This has been a long term goal of our’s to make this happen and we have the efforts of our dedicated exec team to thank for making an away gasshuku come to fruition. Eating, sleeping, and training hard together was truly an experience that we’ll never forget. To top that off, the Red Barn had no showers, truly an unprecedented ordeal for McGill Naginata. That being said, the smell of our sweat (and tears) is essential to a true gasshuku experience.
Thankfully, there’s exactly one week between gasshuku and the 2nd annual Winter Classic Taikai – the optimal recovery time for the optimal level of success, n’est ce pas? The thing that makes these taikais something to anticipate is seeing our friends from Toronto and Edmonton. It was a full day of shiai which was incredibly rewarding to see and be a part of.
Lastly, we would like to bid farewell to William Choi, our beloved first captain of the McGill Naginata Club. He was also one of the first ever members to join the club and has since, dedicated his utmost efforts in making invaluable contributions to not only the McGill club, but to Team Canada as well at World’s. We wish him the best of luck on his future endeavours and hope to see him again!
As everyone knows, the year was abruptly cut short when the pandemic hit Canada and all facilities closed down to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. However, we remain optimistic that we can continue our practice in a safe way as we prepare for the opening of a new semester. McGill Naginata will be back in action soon, so until then!
On the 5th & 6th of July, in Wiesbaden, Germany, members of the McGill Naginata Club had the opportunity to represent Canada and compete in the World Naginata Championship and the World Goodwill tournament.
Team Canada got the following results:
Zen Nihon Kata
Marija Landekic & Antoine fromentin
Andrew Boyd & Jordan Macklem
Women Team Shiai
Marija Landekic, Lutan Liu, Mary Phan
Women Individual Shiai
Men Individual Shiai (Goodwill)
Men Individual Shiai (Goodwill)
Women Individual Shiai (Goodwill)
Simon Bruins also competed in the goodwill tournament for the Dutch team
After the tournaments was a 3-days Naginata seminar followed by a grading where all the attendants could practice with people from various countries.
Congratulation to Marija Landekic who successfully graded for yondan.
The Germany trip
Beyond the tournament and the seminar this was a fun and exciting trip for everyone who attended.
A full day’s worth of seminar info overload, an amazing tournament, and who could forget the dogs at Frank’s place 😆
We had the amazing opportunity to practice with people from all over the US and Canada. McGill Naginata played in all Dangai divisions of the tournament (some of us for the first time!!), and played in the Yudansha tournament as well.
Many thanks to the JSS for hosting the NY Seminar and Taikai, to the sensei for all the feedback and learning.
McGill Naginata was represented by –
Henintsoa, Joanna, Mei, Sage, Chris, Frank, Julia, Sam, Chloe, Helen, Will, Kevin, Simon
2nd Place – Kevin and Will
Dangai Men’s Individual Matches
2nd Place – Kevin
3rd Place – Will
Dangai Women’s Individual Matches
2nd Place – Helen
3rd Place – Julia
Special shoutout to Frank’s parents for accommodating us and providing food. The trip was that much more comfortable and enjoyable thanks to them.
We look forward to attending the seminar & tournament again next year!
Sage joined the Naginata Club in Fall 2017 and has since started spending more and more time with the club. This is Gasshuku from her perspective:
The McGill Naginata club’s Spring Gasshuku is not just a training camp. While we had three practices a day, between two to three hours each, for the duration of the event, the focus wasn’t solely on improving technique or endurance or strength, as a training camp would imply.
Rather, Gasshuku focused on both Naginata as a martial art, and Naginata as a social activity.
Each day of Gasshuku, you would eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner with everyone else, helping to cook and clean. You would walk to the gym with everyone, and head back together afterwards. It was a great experience; the people critiquing your attacks in the dojo would also be the person you saw fall asleep at 7.10 AM on the sofa, or someone who helped you wash a million dishes, or the person you ran across an intersection with as the traffic light changed to green.
Gasshuku didn’t just aim to be an extended practice session; it emphasized also cooperation and club bonding. How else could about 16 people in one air bnb work?
Gasshuku also touched upon the philosophy of Naginata. One of the exercises was to come up with a kata which demonstrated the core components of Naginata. The movements didn’t need to be real Naginata moves, as long as they captured the unique aspects of Naginata as a martial art. This required me to think about the movements I was making, rather than simply trying to actually do them without tripping. More broadly, Gasshuku also focused on perseverance, especially in its morning “warmup” sets; pushing yourself as far as you could go and then continuing to do so through the repeated sets.
Gasshuku improved my technique and helped me feel more comfortable around my fellow club members. It wasn’t a training camp that allowed people to distance themselves and sink themselves in their own work and emotions; it forced you to interact and cooperate and coordinate, and in doing so, become closer with those around you. It was an amazing experience, and one that I look forwards to next year.
Written by Sage Minard
Pictures from Marija Landekic