A Year in Review 2019-2020

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.

Smiles bright with anticipation for new beginnings

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.

Shinjin Taikai Scoresheet

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.

Denny’s – another end to CNF

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.

Please come visit again, Rachel (front, center)!

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.

A group photo before it begins, when we’re all still as fresh as daisies
She said, “show your personalities guys!” – Mei (far left) foreshadows our near futures

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.

Winter Classic participants. We missed you Edmonton!

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!

Gasshuku from The Kohai’s POV

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

2018 Spring Gasshuku

We’ll be holding our spring gasshuku again this weekend on March 2-4! An extensive training menu, great food, fun social event, and accommodation if you need have been prepared. Training will be held in the Aerobics Room at the McGill Athletics Centre.

On March 2 training will run from 19:00 – 21:00; on March 3 and 4 it will run from 9:00 – 20:30.

Please check the event page or Facebook group for more information!

Spring Break Gasshuku

This year, we will be holding our first training camp from Feb 25-27 at the McGill Gymnasium! Look forward to be mentally/physically knocked down and brought back up again with hopefully strengthened skills. Details below:

DATES TIME VENUE
Feb 25 0900 – 1200h Aerobatics Room
1400 – 1700h
1900 – 2030h
Feb 26 0900 – 1200h Mind and Body Room
1400 – 1700h Aerobatics Room
1900 – 2030h
Feb 26 0900 – 1200h Aerobatics Room