This past weekend, I was honored to be a part of something truly special and unique. For the first time in America, a Japanese Grandmaster of Kinbaku visited the US to hold a series of workshops on his unique style: Yukimura Ryu.
The weekend was a result of a relationship that has developed over the past several years between Yukimura Sensei and Master “K” and this weekend was the culmination of conversations that have been on going for nearly three years.
After years of discussion and some complicated negotiations, it was ultimately the combination of Yukimura Sensei and Master “K’s” friendship and Yukimura Sensei’s deep desire to share the style he has developed for decades that made this dream a reality.
And what a dream it was.
I am deeply grateful to my teacher and sensei, Master “K” for providing me with so many special opportunities to learn, study, and enjoy the beauty of kinbaku. For the instruction he has given me, for introductions he has made and for the possibilities he has afforded me. And, most especially, for his friendship, advice, and counsel about things that go well beyond the world of rope.
As a result, I had the chance to attend several private lessons with Yukimura Sensei and to begin my journey as an instructor, assisting with the workshops on Friday and Sunday (I participated as a student on Saturday).
I hold no illusions about my level of skill of sophistication in his style of rope, but as Yukimura Sensei told me, “the best way to learn Yukimura Ryu is to teach it.” So now begins the hard work of being worthy of the trust and faith he has placed in me to do so.
As a student, the classes I had with Tigrita (one private and one for the workshop) were wonderful and through Yukimura Ryu, I have found a way to share so much more of myself with her and to get so much back from her in return. It has given me a completely different and fresh perspective on kinbaku.
Yukimura Ryu does not just change how you think about everything; it changes everything about how you think.
Apart from class time, I had the chance to spend a lot of time with Yukimura Sensei and Murasaki San (his deshi for the past 9 years) and loved every second of it. As amazing as the classes and instruction were (and they were truly amazing), one of the most impressive things about the week was seeing them as people—sitting up at 1 a.m. eating ice cream after a night at the dungeon, sharing meals, joking around about life in general, sightseeing, shopping, and getting Japanese language tips from Murasaki San.
What I have come to understand about Yukimura Ryu is that it is about feeling and communication and in order for that to be meaningful, you first need to be someone worth communicating with and willing and able to share yourself through your rope. Yukimura Ryu is a conversation. It is something you do with your partner, not something you do to them.
And these were people I genuinely enjoyed communicating with, both about rope and about life in general. I hope they felt the same way.
As for the workshop, helping to organize this event with Master “K” was amazing for me. I got the privilege and honor of helping to facilitating a connection between Yukimura Sensei and my Monarch brothers, 17 couples who all love rope, and my dear friends Tony and Boo. And as much as I was able to personally grow, learn, and enjoy my own lessons, it was truly seeing the joy on the faces of the participants, seeing the light bulbs go off, and hearing the effects (with people using words like “life altering”) that made me feel the best about what we accomplished.
I have such a long way to go on my journey, but this week I feel like I have started walking the path. It is daunting to see up close and personal how incredibly deep this style of rope can go, to see the potential for creating amazing connections, and finding a true and authentic expression of oneself. But it is also exciting. So much to learn! So much to discover!
I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Master “K” for making any of this possible. But I also see great things coming for the rope community in LA as we begin to work to bring Yukimura Sensei’s rope, philosophy, and technique to those who will enjoy it.