Dark glasses can only hide so much. To see Miura Takumi from a distance can be a bit intimidating. Watching him tie, doubly so. But once you start engaging with him, you find an incredibly friendly, generous, and kind man, with a passion for very beautiful and technically precise rope.
I was very lucky to be able to experience his teaching style first hand at a meeting of the Bakuyukai Dojo in Sugamo, Tokyo. It was a small gathering of roughly a dozen people, ranging in experience. Miura sensei holds the position of “founder” and was there teaching beside the current head instructor.
The meeting started with all participants gathered in a circle, with Miura sensei making announcements and setting the agenda for the evening. Following announcements, the evening began with everyone tying the dojo style gote, under the watchful eye of Miura sensei.
Next, each member of the dojo began work on their own ties. Miura sensei kindly spent time teaching me the bakuyukai style gote, having me practice several times of my model Mari.
Next, he taught me a beautiful hojojutsu-style tie, which combined elements I had never seen before, creating a fascinating tie.
The lesson ended with a hands in front tie (maete shibari) and hands behind the head tie.
After practicing a few times, Miura sensei pulled out his timer and told me to tie each tie while he watched and timed me. Of course it was a bit harrowing, but I managed to do a decent job on each of the ties he requested.
The most nerve wracking part, however, is not the tie itself. After testing the tension and placement of the ropes, Miura sensei tests your skill by actually untying your rope. Every mistake and error becomes obvious as the rope is untied.
Fortunately, my ties passed muster. Much to my surprise, Miura sensei announced to the room that I had passed my first test and was now awarded a position within the dojo at the rank of “心得” or kokoro-e, the first level in the bakuyukai system. Mari san said that I was the first American to become a member of the dojo, which felt like a very special honor.
The rest of the night, dinner, and the salon that followed was an amazing experience. Even thought my Japanese language skills are severely lacking, every person there make an effort to try to speak with me and make me feel at home.
The energy in the room, from start to finish, was nothing short of incredible. Bakuyukai is as welcoming a place as I can possibly imagine and they effort they made to make me feel welcome and at home showed me the spirit of the dojo in ways that I will never forget.
Thank you to all the people of the bakuyukai dojo who made me feel at home and opened their space and hearts to me. It is something I will never forget. I can’t wait to come back.