Camp Memories

I’m finally back home from 2015 Birankai Summer Camp and a great visit to Seattle and Seattle Aikikai, home of dynamic chief instructor Malory Graham. Excellent time was had by all.

Here are some newly posted videos from camp; more to come. We’re also putting together photos from camp and memorial events for Chiba Sensei – please contact me ASAP if you have any photos, letters or thoughts to contribute. Email me at

Thanks to everyone for making camp happen and looking forward to seeing everyone on the mat tomorrow at USAF Summer Camp!

L. Klein

Thanks for a Great Camp!


Thanks to all who made the outstanding 2015 Birankai North America Summer Camp happen: Neilu Naini, Kano Chiba and the Chiba family, Miyamoto Sensei, Didier Boyet, all the great Birankai shihan and other teachers, our welcome guests from the USAF and other dojos, and all the Birankai members who trained their hearts our this past week.

Get some rest and see you on a mat somewhere again soon!

L. Klein

Works of art

Tsuba 2On sale at the store this year at Birankai Summer Camp are beautiful leather tsubas, hand guards that can be custom-fitted to your bokken. Part of the cost of each tsuba benefits the endowment fund — Read Omohundro crafted each of them by hand with the Birankai logo.

Get the tsubas here at camp while you can, or wait until they go on sale in a few months on the new, improved Birankai website!

L. Klein

Tsuba 3


Day 4 at Camp

Tests and lots of “Bikram Aikido” today at Birankai NA Camp, where temperatures in the dojo were quite toasty. Thanks to reminders from the medical team, no one suffered ill effects from the heat, and the training remained strong, even into a long evening of testing. Congrats to all candidates for their efforts.

And big thanks to Neilu Naini, Derek Shaw and the crack 2015 Summer Camp team, who have kept everyone housed and hydrated, the mat clean, and the excellent food and beer flowing so far at camp. Thanks for your hard work!

(See more videos from today at the BiranOnline channel on Youtube.)

L. Klein

Patch it up at Camp

Patch for biran onlineWe’ve got these great new Birankai patches for everyone to affix to their gis. The design is the moon-star mon (crest), the emblem of the Chiba samurai clan.

“We honor our founder, T.K. Chiba, by using his family crest or mon as the Birankai symbol. It should be worn or displayed with great respect,” said A.G. Peterson, president of Birankai North America

The new Birankai embroidered patch will be available for sale at Summer Camp. Proceeds from patch sales will go to the Birankai General Fund, which supports various programs including scholarships, the website and the video library.

Wear the Birankai patch on the right sleeve of your gi or sewn onto weapons bags and gi bags. The image should be oriented with the small circle in the “10 o’clock” position.

When applying to your gi sleeve, apply to the right sleeve, a bit below your shoulder but well above the elbow. Put on your gi jacket and have a friend pin the patch to your gi in the correct position. Remove the jacket and iron-on or sew on. We recommend sewing on, however you may wish to do both for strongest adhesion.

Iron-on instructions:

  • Pre-heat iron for 5 minutes on high setting. Do not use steam.
  • Iron area of the garment where the emblem will be placed for 25 seconds.
  • Place emblem in desired location.
  • Place lightweight press cloth over the emblem. Using a back-and-forth motion, press firmly with iron for 25 seconds. DO NOT apply hot iron directly to the emblem embroidery.
  • Turn the garment inside out. Using a back-and-forth motion, iron the back side of the emblem for 45-60 seconds while pressing firmly.
  • Turn the garment right side out. Place press cloth over the emblem. Iron edges of the emblem to ensure they are properly sealed. DO NOT apply hot iron directly to the emblem embroidery.

Enjoy your new patch!

Suzane Van Amburgh

Camp Next Week!

sweat in practiceSummer Camp is almost here! In a little more than a week we’ll all be gathered in the tropical heat of Tacoma, Wash. You heard that right – the entire Northwest has been baking in a heat wave that I’m hoping will be waning by the time we arrive. Either way, great for purification…

A few final words from Camp Director Neilu Naini:

Getting there: Make sure you know how you’re getting to the University of Puget Sound (it’s in Tacoma, not Seattle) and that your travel plans have been confirmed with the camp staff. Visit the travel page for more info.

T-shirts: You can still buy T-shirts and hoodies at the online store and a limited selection will be available at camp. Click here for the selection.T-shirts

Volunteer: We need lots of help to make this camp happen, especially because we’re expecting guests from around the world for the celebration of Chiba Sensei’s life. Make sure to sign up as soon as you arrive at camp to help with setup, cleaning and other tasks.

We need you!

See you next week and bring the sunblock!

L. Klein