Dr Ishigaki Video: TUSA Summit (+analysis)
1 CommentThursday, 21 September 2017 | Paul G
First of all big congratulations to Daniel and the team at TUSA for putting on what proved to be the world’s largest tenkara gathering to date. That’s a super positive contribution to the global #tenkaratribe and a great achievement, so High 5. I just got chance to watch Dr Ishigaki’s Summit presentation on the TUSA blog and YouTube and it really interested me to see that he had recognised something of an evolution in the Western audience for tenkara…
Yes, Dr Ishigaki’s stated mission is to bring people into tenkara and break down the perceived barriers of complexity and cost (things sometimes associated with fly fishing)…But this latest presentation - included below so you can see what I mean - has moved up quite a step from the earliest content that Ishigaki-sensei was prepared to reveal. In other words, it seems as if he recognises that we are “growing up” in our ability to appreciate tenkara’s broad range of techniques. I think this may also be a pattern reflected in the Tenkara Guides' annual Oni School as described by Chris at TenkaraBum. It is a great time to be involved with the global tenkara community.
The video (below) talks in far more detail about the changing “moods” of fish and the technical adaptations that you can make to cope with that. In that way, I felt it chimed a bit more with the kinds of detail that pro bass anglers in the US think about and deal with all the time (the classic “switching on” of the fish for short periods of time). If you don’t know about that, you might think that your technique sucks! Another thing that flagged as different for me was being more ready to push the Japanese names for some of the specific manipulations. Probably the most obvious example would be “Gyaku biki” that I just happen to have a handy illustration for taken from our free email tutorial series :)
Interestingly, his presentation also describes the anchored-fly presentation commonly known as “tome-zuri”, but that was not something he specifically asked his translator to relay as a term. In the same way, the “tome-okuri” (pause & feed or pause and drift) technique was just explained in a functional way (rod tip movement illustrated below). Regardless, it was more technically nuanced than the talks I’ve seen him give before – and I think that is significant.
Of course, his trademark charisma and sense of humour were on show – and you see once again why he fits that tenkara ambassador role so well. That ability to charm the audience and his teaching experience from a career in science is something that even much more technical tenkara experts in Japan may not be able to replicate. That, again, is significant in my book.
An especially interesting development in his presentation was the preview clip of the new DVD that Dr Ishigaki has made with two “under the radar” masters – Shin Takahashi and Kazumi Saigo (aka “Ajari”)
Western tenkara veterans may remember the profile of Ajari on our old Discover Tenkara Wordpress site from some years ago (reproduced on this site when we rebuilt it after being hacked: http://www.discovertenkara.com/blog/ajari.html).
Here’s the thing, both Takahashi-san and Ajari are phenomenally technical and accomplished tenkara anglers. They have also both studied European competition methods (with Takahashi-san taking a near-obsessive level of interest in the deep detail) and can effortlessly switch between those different “schools” as well as melding all their knowledge into very recognisably “Japanese” tenkara tactics.
Make no mistake, those two experts have been very carefully selected by Dr Ishigaki – not least because of their incredibly consistent success rate on some of the most difficult waters and fish in Japan. There is good reason to suspect that they are the two anglers who, between them, catch the most fish on a tenkara rod in Japan each year. Not that those numbers are their primary aim, just that the amount of time on-stream and their “next-level” skillset make that result almost inevitable.
But I guess the key point of my analysis is that, in taking his ambassador role with the level of dedication and seriousness that you’d expect, Dr Ishigaki has made sure to find out what folks at the cutting edge are doing. As always it is a pleasure to see his smooth “muscle memory” when doing his demonstrations on the videos from the 2017 Tenkara Summit. The repetitions of loading/unloading the rod with minimum effort to create smooth loops have polished that action to a fine shine for over 40 years. On top of that, it is also fascinating to see the impact on his own approach that, particularly Saigo-san (Ajari), has had over the last five or six years or so…
Ajari is notorious for a few things in Japanese tenkara circles. First of all, his extensive written log of conditions, techniques, fish behaviour across hundreds and hundreds of fishing spots across Japan spanning almost 15 years by now. This means that, whenever a top angler needs to get a photo feature for a magazine article…Who you gonna call? Ajari will have up to date data on what fish are biting where and on what tactics. I know Ishigaki-sensei really appreciates that relationship with Saigo-san.
The second part of Ajari’s notoriety is that he has never been known to fail to produce the goods for any of his own articles in prestigious Japanese angling magazines. His incredibly detailed understanding of fish behaviour patterns – coupled with his long-term dataset – give him a huge advantage. He will also preview his chosen venue the day before – using some special tactics to avoid spoiling the next day’s fishing that we may get into as part of Season 2 of Tenkara in Focus.
So, yes, I’m looking forward to checking out the DVD when I get the chance and, again, congratulations on a significant milestone event in the tenkaraverse to Daniel and team. Here is the video so you can check it out:
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And if you want to explore some of the topics raised here in more detail; please subscribe to my email tutorials and Check out the Tenkara in Focus Resources below: