Kagami Biraki 2016 at Isshin Aikido dojo

Kagami biraki class picture

Thanks to all the participants

Kagami biraki class picture
Kagami biraki class picture

I wanted to thank all of the participants in Kagami Biraki 2016! On the mat we had children, adults and parents who all took part in the festive class, and in the ceremony and party afterwards. I particular enjoyed watching the children teach the parents what they knew about aikido. I also enjoyed the questions and the discussions. But most of all, I enjoyed watching the ceremony where we broke the monster and opened the new year with the ceremonial bokken (wooden sword) that decorates the shomen in the dojo. It reminded me that we need to start working with weapons. I hope to have dojo weapons that we can use soon!

Pictures from the even

Liya arrived late but did succeed in taking a few pictures (that you can find here).  I would be very happy to get additional photos that people took. You can send them to me by mail (opher@isshinaikido.com) or in other way. It’s even possible to upload them to the website via a special page (that you can find here). In order to do so, you will need to contact me for login information.

A little about Kagami Biraki

I am no expert on Japanese culture. I first encountered the Kagami Biraki ceremony when I began training in the US, after 10 years of studying Aikido. In Baltimore Aikido (led by Chuck Weber and Charlie Page) we would celebrate Kagami Biraki on the first Sunday or the New Year. The entire dojo would come to that training, along with guests from the area. After the Aikido class, the senseis (teachers, Chuck and Charlie) would lead a ceremony in which they would offer each participant in the class a ceremonial cup of Sake. After the ceremony, we would close class and open a party with food that each person had brought. I very much enjoyed the celebrations, and particularly the mix of ceremony and informality. That is the same feeling I am trying to recreate in our dojo.

From what I understand, the opening of the new year is celebrated in most martial arts schools in Japan. I’ve also seen it celebrated in some, but certainly not all, of the dojos that I’ve practiced in. The meaning of the term is translated in different places on the internet as “breaking the mirror,” “opening the sake barrel” or “opening the Mochi cake” (mochi cakes are a traditional kind of cake with a hard crust that must be opened). It is often celebrated with the drinking of sake, and there is a special type of sake barrel that you can buy in Japan which has a lid that is intended to “broken open” with a large hammer. This is the idea that we are copying with our breaking of the monster.