I have been rededicating myself to my Hatha Yoga asana practice, incorporating the use of kettlebells for conditioning. Recent corrections on my Wu Style Taiji Quan have been very useful, profoundly changing how I approach solo form practice in the art. I am getting a much more thorough sense of body posture and six harmonies (liu he) and it really changes the experience and qualia of the practice.
This year was the twelfth year that the Masakikai and Hobyokai held their annual Kagami Biraki (new year gathering), demonstrating Masaki-ryu, Yagyu Shinkage-ryu, Jiki Shinkage-ryu, and Shinto Muso-ryu jo. Guests included the Shinto Muso-ryu jo group of Dan Soares from Frederick, MD, the Hontai Yoshin-ryu group of Stephen Fabian from Lawrenceville, NJ, and the Daito-ryu aiki-jujutsu group of Chris Covington and Brian Wagner from Baltimore, MD. I was impressed by the intensity, precision, and spirit of all the groups. I really enjoyed taking pictures at the event; this year I only brought manual focus lenses, which provided a challenge in capturing the fast moving action but I was able to get many good photos as I am slowly becoming more familiar with the timing of the kata I am watching.
I was able to participate in the demonstration of Jiki Shinkage-ryu kodachi (small sword) kata and also demonstrate the use of the jian (double-edged straight sword) in Xingyi and Bagua. Next year I hope to work with a partner who can provide basic spear or staff attacks so I can show applications more directly. One of the unique benefits of training in YCGF is that applications for both the weapons and empty hand practices are preserved and are an important part of the training. I hope to convey more of that in the future if I have the opportunity.