This club is dedicated to the martial art “Naginata.” A naginata is a Japanese pole-arm similar to a glaive (see a video here). Use of the naginata dates back to the 7th Century, but in the 15th Century, it was phased out of the Japanese battlefield in favour of the yari, or spear. Naginata were then used as a form of character building in times of peace, and associated with women of samurai families. Knowledge of the naginata became a part of girls’ education in the 20th century. In the years since World War II, the art of Atarashii Naginata (“modern” Naginata) has spread beyond Japan to fifteen other countries. It is now a completely co-ed martial art, with regular national and international competition for both women and men.
Today, Naginata is practiced as a sport, emphasizing technique, etiquette and discipline. As a sport, there are 2 types of competitions: Engi and Shiai. Engi is a set of rehearsed strikes, blocks, and counterattacks that are performed by a pair. Shiai is one-on-one sparring in a full set of armour.
The Naginata club at McGill welcomes all students, of every level, and especially those who have never tried (or seen) Naginata before! There is practice for both the competitively minded and non-competitive student. All equipment for beginners can be borrowed for the first few months.
The club instructors are Simon Bruins, 3dan, and Marija Landekic, 3dan, the current captain of the Canadian National Naginata Women’s Team. Our instructors have had more than 10 years of training each, four years of which Marija has spent training in Japan. She has permission to teach within Canada from the Canadian Naginata Federation and a referee license for tournaments from the All Japan Naginata Federation.
Most recently, the Canadian National Federation (CNF) October 2017 Seminar and Tournament was held in Montreal. Many members represented McGill Naginata at the event. Marija and Simon placed 1st in Yudansha Engi, Kevin and Will placed 2nd in Dangai Engi; more detailed results can be found here. We hope that Naginata at McGill will continue grow in the coming years.
Our students also have the opportunity to study the classical (koryu) art of Tendo-ryu naginatajustsu, including seminars organized by the Shin Getsu Kai. Tendo-ryu dates back to the late 1500s, and was taught to high school girls across Japan before World War II. Students interested in Tendo-ryu will need to attend one or more of the monthly out-of-town practices to begin their training, and attendance at an annual week-long seminar, held at the end of June, will be necessary to progress.
A Student Group of the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU)