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By Brian Lockhart
Orangeville resident and sword master Sensie Douglas Tong was invited to demonstrate at the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre's prestigious Haru Matsuri (Spring festival) in Toronto on Saturday, March 4.
This annual event, the largest annual gathering of the Japanese community from Ontario and upstate New York, celebrates the return of Spring and is regularly attended by local and foreign dignitaries as well as thousands of people.
Sensei Tong presented the Yagyū Shinkage school of swordsmanship, a 500 year-old style famous in classical Japanese fencing circles as “The Life-Giving Sword.”
Seldom seen outside of Japan and almost never in public demonstrations in North America, the public was given a rare glimpse into this unique school of kenjutsu, the first sword style to blend Zen Buddhist philosophy with swordsmanship as this style strives to prevent unnecessary loss of life.
Sensei Tong is well-known in classical Japanese swordsmanship circles here in Canada and for this event he brought together instructors from other famous schools of swordsmanship in the GTA to help demonstrate the art including Tenshin Shōden Katori Shintō-ryū (the oldest recorded battlefield style) and Niten Ichi-ryū (the style of the
famous swordsman Miyamoto Musashi), which along with Yagyū Shinkage-ryū are generally considered to be three of the four major styles of traditional Japanese kenjutsu.
The public was treated to demonstrations of swordsmanship - some styles displaying strength and power - some lightning quick movements, while others showed grace and elegance.
“It is truly an honour to have the opportunity to showcase this art, this important part of their heritage and tradition, to the Japanese-Canadian community,” Sensei Tong said. “And it was also an important historic event as this is the first time that we have gotten so many famous classical schools to come together to demonstrate to the public.”
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