Katori kenjutsu training at the first day of the new year is not only about physical strengthening.
Every new year Shobukan Vietnam holds a new year Katori kenjutsu training session. The main purpose that training is to symbolically clean the dojo and its practitioners and to to set new goals for the new year. Usually our dojo will have been closed for a week and most students will be eager to restart their training and see their friends again.
During this training we make as many cuts as the new year counts years: 2015 cuts for 2015. We set up bokken, one for each hundred years. One by one each monjin counts from one to ten in Japanese while he or she and the rest of us make a cut at each count. When a monjin reaches one hundred he or she lays down one of the bokuto. Usually after forty-five minutes we will have exceeded the number of years of e.g. 2015 by a thousand cuts or so. The reason being that there are some criteria we need to meet while we cut. Proper, big and precise controlled cuts. If someone becomes sloppy we subtract one hundred cuts from the number already achieved. If someone forgets that it is his or her turn or miscounts, the same thing happens: subtract one hundred.
Eventually we reached the formal goal and especially young students who did not join this kind of Katori kenjutsu training before feel relieved at their accomplishment. After the physical part the dojo members get together and toast sake to our founder, to our shihan and our sensei. We remember and discuss the history of this martial tradition and are grateful for those who have gone before us and paved the way. We also thank Donn. F. Draeger for his role in Katori Shinto ryu. After the past we focus on the present and discuss the goals of the dojo for the coming years, for the year and the days ahead:”Train more basics, work on quality not quantity both in our own training but also regarding new students. No focus on acquiring new students, instead a focus on strengthening those who are with us now.”