Calgary Rakushinkan Blog

Noble House Kenjutsu Seminar - August, Edmonton

posted 20 Mar 2013, 13:50 by Josh MacDonald

Who wants to take a trip to Edmonton in August?

From the Noble House Kenjutsu page

2013 Kenjutsu and Iaijutsu seminar

Noble House Kenjutsu is pleased to announce an upcoming seminar over August 3 and 4 in Edmonton. The seminar will cover material in both kenjutsu and iaijutsu. No prior experience is necessary, and all skill levels are welcome. Note that seminar size is limited to 30 students. For more information, or to register, e-mail

Noble House Kenjutsu Seminar - Edmonton, August 2013

I got credited in a Scientific American blog

posted 15 Nov 2012, 11:46 by Josh MacDonald

Check it out!
A nifty little article on tachikaze, hasuji and cutting.
Charles Choi asked if he could use images from my post on hasuji and of course I consented.
Cheers Charles!

Rakushinkan Kids!

posted 9 Oct 2012, 14:02 by Josh MacDonald   [ updated 12 Oct 2012, 10:08 ]

I've added a page on the site advertising the karate classes that are offered through the Beltline Aquatic and Fitness Centre.
While, Calgary Rakushinkan mainly focuses on Japanese sword based arts I feel that these techniques are harder to grasp for younger people who have not yet fully developed their motor control. Basic karate training is in many ways simpler and the benefits are more clear and immediate than aikido or iaijutsu. In fact, I would prefer if everyone had a solid base in a striking arts such as karate, kenpo, boxing, etc. prior to taking up Japanese sword or derivative arts.
Calgary Rakuhinkan offeres training in Chito Ryu karate for kids under 13.

Oct 13 visit by Lyall Sensei

posted 7 Oct 2012, 13:02 by Josh MacDonald   [ updated 7 Oct 2012, 13:02 ]

Looking forward to Lyall Sensei of Noble House Kenjutsu coming to visti us next weekend.
I am very excited about learning to make fukuro shinai.

Itto-Ryu Poem

posted 23 Mar 2012, 10:22 by Josh MacDonald

Do not think merely of striking the enemy
Protect yourself and openings will naturally appear
Like shafts of moonlight through a hovel’s tattered roof

*attributed to Itō Ittōsai Kagehisa, the founder of Ittō-ryū.

More pics of my nicest katana

posted 19 Feb 2012, 23:26 by Josh MacDonald

Thought I would post some more pictures of the sword I posted a long time ago. 
Previously, I posted only pics of the koshirae (the mounts). This post contains pics of the mounts and blade (better than I could have take myself.


take horimono

Article on hasuji

posted 5 Feb 2012, 21:13 by Josh MacDonald   [ updated 5 Feb 2012, 21:17 ]

I've just posted a short article on hasuji on the forum. Hasuji is a common term and important concept in iaido and sword arts in general.
Give it a read and tell me what you think.

bad edge alignment

Weekday afternoon class

posted 10 Jan 2012, 13:50 by Josh MacDonald

So I've started a weekday afternoon class.
I meantioned this on the Calgary Rakushinkan forum the other day: New Weekday afternoon classes
This was actually the idea of one of my work colleagues. We train for an hour or so at the Beltline Fitness Center.
Right now it's just James and me and maybe one other soon. Only two sessions so far and they were really good. I think we'll stick with aikido and aikijujutsu right now with a bit of kenjutsu to supplement training. I'm not sure if we'll do any iaido or not. I'll gague interest and see, I guess.
Fitting in those extra few hours each week is really important for me. I should be training more, but finding space and training partners is difficult so this afternoon training is quite convenient and benificial as long as it fits in with my schedule.

Pattern Practice

posted 29 Dec 2011, 06:32 by Josh MacDonald

Farug had asked last weekend if I had any sword patterns that he could practice by himself at home with his bokuto.
The short answer was no, but that I would send him some links with patterns that he could practice.

I general you can take any iaido kata and practice it with a bokuto. And, you are certainly welcome to do them standing rather then sitting or squatting, and decompose them as much as you wish. That's what I have always done. That and just practising the basic cuts over and over.

Anyway, I had come across a series of videos that I think  would be useful if you wanted to do pattern practice at home.

This link shows the the "Japanese Sword 101" videos that Sensei Dana Abbott has produced.It's a kind  of promotional material for his site "Learn the Sword".
I'll keep my opinions of this site/product and Sensei Abbott to myself, but think these videos will provide Farug and the rest of you with more than enough individual pattern practice.

I think most of the patterns are made up of kata from the Seitei set and Toyama Ryu (which i know next to nothing about. Anyway, sword is sword.

Here's a couple vids. You can find more in the above link.



RDS iaito review

posted 28 Dec 2011, 13:42 by Josh MacDonald   [ updated 28 Dec 2011, 13:48 ]

The pictures above were ones taken by the maker before shipping it out. I've since taken a few more, after having time for iaido training with it.

As part of my quest to find affordable iaito options for my students here in Calgary, I decided to look up Jason again from RDS. I had seen on the kaneie website that they have some stainless steel iaito at the lower end of their price range. I contacted Jason about these stainless steel swords as well as the 1060 line as it was a more affordable option. However, Jason fired back a different option.

He said that they had some factory reject blades laying around. The issue was that each blade had slight hagire - hairline cracks on the edge from the heat treatment process. He suggested that, since I was looking for an iaito with a blunt edge anyway, these would be suitable. The advantage for me would be that the blades are their higher end T10 steel and would get the higher end polish. 
I had a chance to choose the fittings and whatnot, but said that he could decide thinking that this sword would be more of a loaner anyway and I wouldn't have much attachment to it.
Price $380.

2.45 shaku nagasa
9 sun tsuka
balance: 4 and a half inches from guard
Not sure about the weight, but it's not light and not heavy.

It's a standard width blade with little to no niku. There is a big bohi so there is a very audible tachikaze. Not a ridiculous bohi, though. It is aesthetically very well executed. However, when I am cleaning/oiling it I can feel a few areas of unevenness. Fine enough with me.

here are a few pics of the blade and hamon:

Chu-kissaki with little fukura:

The polish on the kissaki might look a bit wanting, but that's my fault. I was lazy in my cleaning, or lack thereof, and a little bit of oxide built up so I hit it with some mothers mag. Didn't do the best job either.

The saya is really well made and the fit with the habaki is perfect. There is, however, a little saya rattle further down.  The sageo is a simple synthetic silk one. It's a little stiff actually, but it looks nice and it's not kinky at all.


scabbard mouth - koiguchi

The stone pebble finish is quite nice, but I think it was rushed. It probably could have used an extra coat of base lacquer as you can see the wood grain texture if you look closely. You can also tell it was rushed, as it started to chip around the koiguchi. And, this is the only real issue I've found. A shame, but it's not structural so it really doesn't bother me.

chipped lacquer

** EDIT**
As someone pointed out to me, it looks as thought the koiguchi wasn't fully glued down allowing a separation at the edge and some movement there. This is what led to the chipping of the lacquer.

Nice, basic iron tsuba which is well fit to the sword (no rattle). Decent brass fuchi and kashiira and handsome liondog menuki. Well made, well fit habaki. Can't ask for much more.


guard - tsuba

lion dog kashira

fuchi and tsuka ito maki

The tsuka is really well made. It's not too small or too big and is well shaped.
handle - tsuka

The samegawa panels are of good quality and the cotton wrap is very good with a very nice quality cotton ito (japanese I am guessing).

That's the end of the pics, but I can add more. just ask for what you would like photos of.


Really good. It's a well balanced sword that has been serving me really well in iai training. It has a bit more sori than I was used to, so that was a bit strange at first - was an issue with noto for a while but now it's fine. When I train with it, everything about it says "well crafted sword". I am really happy with it.

Yes, the lacquer chipping sucks, but it's a minor issue. it's also consistent with Jason's prior work - one or two irksome oversights. I think he's often behind and therefore in a rush to get stuff out the door. Actually though, this one was really quick - 6 weeks or so if I recall.

Would I recommend one? Yes and no. This iaito is as good or better than most Japanese made iaito I've ever used. At $380 it was a super deal.
HOWEVER, I think Jason and RDS are a bit questionable. It seems like many of his customers are still waiting for their items and now his site is effectively down. Maybe I got lucky...

**Please come over to the new forum and view this post there where you can leave you comments, ask question s and take part in other discussions**

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