CHRIS ELLARD SENSEI
I first experienced martial arts while at Kurita Minouru’s Seikikai Aikido in 1993. I was mostly interested in learning a peaceful means of self-defense. After five years, I received a black belt from Pierce Sensei and began dabbling in other arts such as Kung Fu, Taekwondo and Capoeira. Dissatisfied, I started to really want a broader understanding of why techniques worked and where they came from. This landed me at the Icho Ryu school of Aikijutsu (one of the predecessors to Aikido) in 2000, where I would spend nine years under Neil Yamamoto Sensei (who trained under Bernie Lau). This also landed me at Shinto Seibu Ryu, in the same year, where I would learn sword under Robby Pellet Sensei.
Over the next fifteen years I would take many trips to Japan to train directly with Mochizuki Sensei, the head of Seibu Ryu. In May, 2009, Alan and I were called to Japan for a sort of rough and brutal week of intense training. Every day, we trained for at least eight hours, running through all the techniques and being given detailed instructions on all of the curriculum. At the end of it, we both received our teaching certificates. We would also receive our Yondan, 4th degree black belts at the same time.
Now, I want to inspire others to take their place in this tradition, in history; to experience the reverence and joy of this ancient art. I want to share Mochizuki’s playful and joyful love for the sword, to have students participate directly in this art as it is embodied in a man who has dedicated his life to it, and get as much as they can through me. I want to see students grow and self-correct, not because they're told, but because they are beginning to understand. I love seeing the lightbulb go on. It is the greatest way I know how to repay all the opportunities I’ve had in my life.
ALAN LINDWALL SENSEI
I started Iai-battojutsu in 2000 and, although I had been practicing martial arts since the early 80's, I was really intrigued with the "quick draw" element. My previous experiences included Hapkido, Judo and Gumdo, though Taekwondo was where my heart was (achieving 6th Dan under Grand Master Yun). In comparison, learning a Japanese sword art seemed so unusual, but it clearly had a real underlying martial art feel. Initially, I felt self defense was a necessity. I'm not so big and I was always dealing with confrontation growing up. However, I later learned martial arts is not for fighting. It’s a system of order and respect. I quickly realized the sword provided feedback that others couldn’t and, in a sense, it was the greatest teacher. Working with a real sword, cutting real targets, seemed like the ultimate way to test one's skill, not against someone else, but purely from within. It was the perfect fit for me.
Now I have been studying sword for 15 years or more. It has been my good fortune to travel to Japan to learn directly from our Soke, or Headmaster, and from others within the Seibu Ryu tradition. It is my hope, honor and even duty to pass on this family style sword art, staying true to how it was passed on to us, and preserving it for the generations to come.
My goal as a teacher is to help students find their own way, supporting their own efforts towards improvement. Seibu Ryu is a unique opportunity to discover things for yourself. Now that I have been studying martial arts, I realize teachers are giving back what they have learned, and understanding the student is the real path to teaching. Every effort is an improvement, but only if it comes from within.
I look forward to sharing this art with other passionate souls. I believe sharing with passion is the message we are left with.