Weekend intensive training

Two weeks ago, I returned from my vacation in the Canadian Rockies to go right into an intensive training for Chanoyu.  Every year, Christy Bartlett sensei comes to Portland for a weekend of intensive training. We are very lucky to have this opportunity to train intensively, as questions and practice in front of a very goodteacher.  This year as I was off for two weeks, I was very stiff in sitting seiza for that long. Thank goodness for Tylenol and hot baths every evening.

In these intensive training weekends, we go from very basicmoves such as folding fukusa to the highest temae that we can study.  Since Christy sensei likes kagetsu, we always have a few rounds of this ensemble training exercise, where participants make 4 bowls of tea by drawing lots to decide who will make tea and who will drink tea.  It is like drinking from a firehose, there is so much information conveyed.

I have been participating in these intensive activities for more than 30 years, and yet I always learn so much.   As I get older, I find myself running to the break room or bathroom between temae to jot down a few notes.  But as I tell my own students now participating, “If you can take one thing from the weekend, you will have learned more than you knew before.”

Christy sensei is always so kind, in that when a student makes a mistake it is an opportunity for everyone to learn.  If every student did every temae perfectly, then there is no chance for others to learn.

It is also a good time to get together with other tea people from around the region, some who travel hours to get here for the chance to participate. Everyone comes with their best behavior, willing and eager to learn.  It is a good atmosphere where everyone gets along, everyone wants all the others to do a good job, and we get to share sweets and tea.

I must also compliment the Tankokai sensei for providing tea and sweets.  When we have upper temae we get the full complement of 5 or 7 different kinds of sweets.  It is always popular to be guest at these temae — who wouldn’t want to eat a fantastic sweet and drink tea?


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