Tag Archives: class

Learning the art of the samurai sword in LIC


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Eric Jankiewicz

Behind one of the studio doors at the Long Island City Art Center you can get a slice of Japanese culture dating back to the 1600s and come out feeling like a warrior.

Every Thursday night, the LIC Japanese art gallery RESOBOX holds samurai sword (iaido) classes at the center, based on the traditional sword techniques of the samurai, with instructor Deborah Klens-Bigman.

Although the classes first began at RESOBOX’s official gallery space located at 41-26 27th St. in 2011, a few months ago the instruction was moved to 44-02 23rd St., providing more open space for students and allowing art pieces to be kept at a safe distance from moving swords.

At the center, studio 210 becomes the dojo for Klens-Bigman and her students, who during a visit by The Queens Courier included one of RESOBOX’s founders, Takashi Ikezawa.

RESOBOX Co-Founder Takashi Ikezawa

RESOBOX co-founder Takashi Ikezawa

Klens-Bigman has studied iaido for more than 25 years and was first introduced to it by Yoshiteru Otani when she saw him perform a demonstration. Otani later became her teacher until his death in 2004 .

“I was at a point in my life where I was looking to make a change of direction. [Otani] provided it,” Klens-Bigman said about her decision to begin learning iaido.

She has been teaching the form for about 14 years and brought her classes to RESOBOX when it opened in Long Island City.

At the beginning of Klens-Bigman’s class, students enter a moment of silence and breath while kneeling. They follow by bowing to the shinzen on the wall, a piece of calligraphy by Kiyami Hiroshi meaning culture and martial arts are the same path, then they bow to the instructor and finally to their sword.

Beginners are given a wooden sword to start learning the technique. Although it isn’t the same as a real blade, it still has the design and feel of a sword (just without the potential danger of hacking off a finger).

The main goal behind iaido is to draw your sword, defeat the opponent and then return your sword to its case, according to Klens-Bigman.

The class begins with an opening exercise, designed by Otani, called happogiri, which is the cutting in eight directions. It takes foot and arm movement, and can take a few tries to get the order correct. Afterward, students work on an individual kata, or exercise, called a Shohatto.

“It’s not a sport. For one thing, any adult who is in reasonably good physical shape can take up this art form and do it for the rest of his/her life. One can’t say that about most sports. And the more you practice, the better you get at it,” Klens-Bigman said. “One of my teachers turned 90 years old this year!”

Once the class comes to an end, students come together again, kneel down and bow to their sword, instructor and then the shinzen on the wall.

“For people who are interested, learning to use a sword teaches self-discipline and concentration. It is also good low-impact aerobic exercise,” Klens-Bigman added. “Most importantly, though, as my teacher used to say, ‘Iaido (swordsmanship) is philosophy.’”

Classes are available every Thursday starting at 6:30 p.m. at  44-02 23rd St. A trial class is $15 for 30 minutes, with prior registration. One class is $25 and five classes are $100.

For more information and to sign up for a class, visit www.resobox.com/iaido.

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Dealing with conflict in your child’s classroom


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

(BPT) – While adults live with the reality that some people just don’t get along, children can find such concepts more difficult to grasp. Teaching our children to deal with conflict and helping them navigate the complexities of interpersonal relationships can be difficult – especially when it comes to conflict with a teacher. Knowing how to approach the teacher and the situation can make all the difference in resolving problems that might arise in the classroom.

“When parents are active in their child’s education, the child is likely to perform better academically in school,” said Dr. Deborah Hammond-Watts, an adjunct professor in the College of Education at Argosy University, Chicago. “A good working relationship between school and home sends the message to a child that his/her parents and the school work together for his/her educational and emotional benefit.”

When a child approaches a parent with an issue or comment related to school and/or the teacher, parents should be willing to listen and to not jump to conclusions.

“Whether you believe what your child is telling you or not, it is important for your child to be and feel heard and to know that you are willing to listen,” said Dr. Dominick Ferello, professor in the College of Undergraduate Studies at Argosy University, Tampa.

The next step is for the parent to reach out to the teacher directly. Request a conference or time to discuss the matter with your child’s teacher directly (and without your child present) to gain some understanding as to what the teacher perceives the concern or issue to be.

“When requesting to talk with a teacher, keep in mind that the teacher’s job is to teach the children in the classroom during the school day. Schedule an appointment to make certain that the teacher has an amount of time to speak with you. Showing up at school and demanding to see a teacher may not always work in your favor,” said Hammond-Watts.

“The goal for the meeting is to gather information about what may be going on and make it clear that you want to partner with the teacher in helping your child to feel that the focus is on their education and helping them succeed in the classroom,” added Ferello.

The reality is that teachers aren’t perfect and neither are parents, says Ferello. As such, the outcome may not always be what either party had hoped for.

If you and the teacher just cannot get along after much effort and frustration, the principal or another administrator may need to get involved.

“The presence of a third party may assist both teacher and parent to try to communicate in a way that demonstrates less conflict,” said Hammond-Watts. “After the meeting the principal/administrator can meet separately with the parent and teacher to critique the meeting and try to offer solutions toward a better working relationship. While the principal can instruct the teacher to work with the parent in a professional manner, the teacher needs to be sincere in any efforts to do so.”