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#1 2006-04-21 23:59:18

evan kubota
Member
Registered: 2006-04-10
Posts: 136

Air volume/tone duration

I just got a Yung Earth model 2.0 today. I had fooled with a homemade PVC flute for a few days prior. At this point I can produce ro and the other notes, but the duration is pretty poor (3-5 seconds maximum). From what I understand, lung capacity is relatively limited by the size of your chest cavity, etc. I assume that when duration improves through practice, this is because one is using the same amount of air more effectively?

How 'focused' is the air stream when you are playing (I know it's hard to describe). For the higher notes I feel like I can focus the air quite a bit and it lasts longer, but ro requires a more open embouchure. Is it normal to change the shape (and sometimes angle) slightly for each note, or is this a bad habit?

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#2 2006-04-22 00:29:34

caffeind
Member
From: Tokyo
Registered: 2006-04-13
Posts: 148

Re: Air volume/tone duration

Each note requires a slight change in embouchre. On some flutes you might have to change the angle to get the pitch right. I feel that when I play tightly, I have to change the angle more to get the right pitch, so relaxing is better.

Try to think about tone colour above everything else. The ability to sustain notes will come with practice. After a while, your embouchre changes shape and you wont waste air out the sides of your lips, and you will also learn to make the airstream work more efficiently at the utaguchi. Its difficult to describe exactly what happens at the utaguchi. If you blow ro every day you will eventually find what works.

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#3 2006-04-22 03:29:34

Seth
Member
From: Scarsdale, NY
Registered: 2005-10-24
Posts: 270

Re: Air volume/tone duration

Great question.

I have heard accompished players give both peices of advice:  That you need to alter your embouchre for every different note- but that also you should aspire to not having to make any dramatic changes at all.

It gets even more complicated as you progress and you begin to aim not just for different octaves, but for different textures and sounds within these octaves.  There is a lot more going on than just high and low pitch.

I don't feel qualified to give a truly trustworthy response to your question, but I would say : yes, high octave blowing is more focused than low octave blowing, and low RO requires even wider blowing, but I think a beginner has a need to exagerate these changes that can be quite subtle for a more advanced player.  (Or maybe it just feels more subtle when you get used to it?)  What I do know for sure:  I used to feel like I had to readjust my lips for every different note, and now I don't really feel myself making these changes any more.  (And, yes, I think there has been a coresponding improvement in my sound.) 

But let me add a question on to your question kind of on the same topic.  Some players can produce a really powerful atomic RO sound.  I can impress myself, when alone in a wooden floored room, with the volume and kick of my own RO - but when I go to a shakuhachi event and hear the pros some of the ROs I hear are just shocking.  The sound of a super RO is very intense, and produces a special urgent vibration that almost makes it sound as if the player is playing high and not low octave.  In any case: I want that sound!  (I once read one post where someone described the super RO as a B-52 bomber sound.  Yes, it is like that!)

So my add on question:  to the pros: In addition to altering your embouchre for high and low octave, what changes of the lips are needed for the B-52 RO?  Is this sound produced by sheer intense lung power, or is it all about focusing the lips just right to hit the shakuhachi's sweetest of sweet spots?  (Or is it a matter of getting the right shakuhachi!?!)

thanks

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#4 2006-04-22 07:43:04

Tairaku 太楽
Administrator/Performer
From: Tasmania
Registered: 2005-10-07
Posts: 3225
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Re: Air volume/tone duration

Seth wrote:

So my add on question:  to the pros: In addition to altering your embouchre for high and low octave, what changes of the lips are needed for the B-52 RO?  Is this sound produced by sheer intense lung power, or is it all about focusing the lips just right to hit the shakuhachi's sweetest of sweet spots?  (Or is it a matter of getting the right shakuhachi!?!)

thanks

One way of getting that buzzing ro sound is to lower the head slightly and blow a little harder than usual. You must blow harder or the pitch will be flat. Another way is to develop a tremendous amount of diaphragm support, then it happens by itself. The flute does matter, some do it easily some don't do it at all. Some big "foghorn" flutes don't really do it or only do it after warming up, but they have other charms.


'Progress means simplifying, not complicating' : Bruno Munari

http://www.myspace.com/tairakubrianritchie

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#5 2006-04-22 11:56:24

evan kubota
Member
Registered: 2006-04-10
Posts: 136

Re: Air volume/tone duration

"Some players can produce a really powerful atomic RO sound."

I hear this in a recording of Tajima Takashi I'm currently listening to. It sounds exactly like a foghorn (made of bamboo). Amazing.

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#6 2006-04-22 16:47:32

Tairaku 太楽
Administrator/Performer
From: Tasmania
Registered: 2005-10-07
Posts: 3225
Website

Re: Air volume/tone duration

evan kubota wrote:

"Some players can produce a really powerful atomic RO sound."

I hear this in a recording of Tajima Takashi I'm currently listening to. It sounds exactly like a foghorn (made of bamboo). Amazing.

He's a good player and he also uses Kobayashi Ichijo flutes if I recall properly, which are very responsive.


'Progress means simplifying, not complicating' : Bruno Munari

http://www.myspace.com/tairakubrianritchie

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#7 2006-04-22 21:33:00

Yungflutes
Flutemaker/Performer
From: New York City
Registered: 2005-10-08
Posts: 1061
Website

Re: Air volume/tone duration

evan kubota wrote:

I just got a Yung Earth model 2.0 today. I had fooled with a homemade PVC flute for a few days prior. At this point I can produce ro and the other notes, but the duration is pretty poor (3-5 seconds maximum). From what I understand, lung capacity is relatively limited by the size of your chest cavity, etc. I assume that when duration improves through practice, this is because one is using the same amount of air more effectively?

Hi Evan, Thanks for your support.
Here is a link to another thread that you may find interesting. http://www.shakuhachiforum.com/viewtopic.php?id=177
My entry has some MP3s as examples. I have a practice method called Sasa Buki - Breath of Bamboo leaf. Practicing with Sasa buki in mind will help you develope both your lips and your ears for a strong blowing technique. If you take a deep breath, the kind that fills your stomach, lungs and throat and exhale slowly, you will probably be able to exhale about a 30 second duration or more. Once you learn how to direct your jet stream onto the utaguchi without wasting any air, you will be able to make the tone last as long as your exhalation.

How 'focused' is the air stream when you are playing (I know it's hard to describe). For the higher notes I feel like I can focus the air quite a bit and it lasts longer, but ro requires a more open embouchure. Is it normal to change the shape (and sometimes angle) slightly for each note, or is this a bad habit?

Every teacher and player that I have learned from has a flexible embroucher. To play shakuhachi well, you must have an embroucher that is able to "milk" each note, much like a violinist's bow and wrist technique. The shakuhachi is one of the most sensitive instruments of mankind. Like the human voice, it is capable of complex timbres and harmonc structures. When you look at a great singer, you can see that he/she is able to shape and project the the sound from different cavities of the body; the chest, stomach, throat, crown or the whole being. An experienced shakuhachi player usually makes similar choices when playing. He/she can focus the sound on the utaguchi, a tone hole or the whole flute including the mouth cavity. For example, a soft Ro will vibrate mainly in the middle of the flute and will result in a "round" Ro with a clear fundamental. But, a forcefully blown Ro will rattle in at least five hot spots in the bore, if not more, and produce a multi-phonic buzzing chord with a strong fifth and seventh sounding much like a B52 on take-off.

Your 2.0 EARTH model is capable of a B52 Ro but it's relative so you have to find it on this particular flute (as we all have to do on each hand made bamboo shakuhachi regradless of grade). If you start blowing Sasa Buki well, in time, you will find the threshold of the flute - the point where the note breaks. Once you find the threshold and can maintain it, you can start to manipulate it to sound the way you want it to sound. When I blow a B52 Ro with a gradual swell(I'm beginning to like this analogy wink), I'm employing a  combination of narrowing the airstream, closing in on the utaguchi and Meri-ing (so that I won't go sharp). When I blast one from Komi buki or Muraiki, I start with a larger embroucher and then close in towards one of the top corners of the utaguchi. This allows me to use a smaller jet stream to get a bigger sound without flattening the note while closing in.

Please feel free to contact me directly for any reason. I'll be more than happy to guide you into discovering the essence of your flute.

Thanks!
Perry

Last edited by Yungflutes (2006-04-22 21:36:31)


"A hot dog is not an animal." - Jet Yung

My Blog/Website on the art of shakuhachi...and parenting.
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#8 2006-04-23 15:08:52

kyoreiflutes
Member
From: Seattle, WA
Registered: 2005-10-27
Posts: 364
Website

Re: Air volume/tone duration

Wait...so you guys are saying that there's a deep, fatter Ro somewhere deep in my flute? I think I had seen someone say this before, but I didn't get it. I can get a standard Ro no problem, but there's yet another Ro?

Is this Ro actually lower in tone, another note, or a harmonic of Ro?  Is it easier on a Jinashi, or a bigger-bore flute, or what?

Perry, I know this might be asking a lot, but do you have, or could you record, a sample of this and post it so I can hear what I'm trying to get to? I'd sure appreciate it, if you have time. I'm sitting here trying to figure it out, and just can't seem to see it. Maybe hearing it will help...usually does for me.

Thanks!

-E

Last edited by kyoreiflutes (2006-04-23 15:14:58)


"The Universe does not play favorites, and is not fair by its very Nature; Humans, however, are uniquely capable of making the world they live in fair to all."    - D.E. Lloyd

"Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee."    -John Donne

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#9 2006-04-23 16:25:49

dstone
Member
From: Vancouver, Canada
Registered: 2006-01-11
Posts: 552
Website

Re: Air volume/tone duration

kyoreiflutes wrote:

Wait...so you guys are saying that there's a deep, fatter Ro somewhere deep in my flute? ...
Is this Ro actually lower in tone, another note, or a harmonic of Ro?

Hey Eddie...  Equivalent fingering and fundamental frequency (pitch) means we call all those tones "Ro", but we can color/mute/heat/(insert-verb-here) them in so many different ways so the player shows through.  (Or flavored as prescribed by a piece.)

Lower tones are there to be blown, also.  Not subharmonics; genuinely new tones, meri'ing down from Ro.  If you're blowing Ro, I'm sure you can meri down one and two semitones without much trouble.

Ro till there's nothing left... 

-Darren.


When it is rainy, I am in the rain. When it is windy, I am in the wind.  - Mitsuo Aida

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#10 2006-04-23 17:04:49

kyoreiflutes
Member
From: Seattle, WA
Registered: 2005-10-27
Posts: 364
Website

Re: Air volume/tone duration

I can't get it at all. I can meri way down, and on my 2.7 I get a lot of room for meri/keri, but I can't get it to do what you're saying. I can get into the second and third octave, so I get a cool "polyphonic" sound, but I doubt this is what you're talking about.

Does anyone just have a little clip from one of the songs you were mentioning? I have to hear this.

-E


"The Universe does not play favorites, and is not fair by its very Nature; Humans, however, are uniquely capable of making the world they live in fair to all."    - D.E. Lloyd

"Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee."    -John Donne

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#11 2006-04-23 22:54:53

Seth
Member
From: Scarsdale, NY
Registered: 2005-10-24
Posts: 270

Re: Air volume/tone duration

kyoreiflutes wrote:

Wait...so you guys are saying that there's a deep, fatter Ro somewhere deep in my flute? I think I had seen someone say this before, but I didn't get it. I can get a standard Ro no problem, but there's yet another Ro?

Is this Ro actually lower in tone, another note, or a harmonic of Ro?  Is it easier on a Jinashi, or a bigger-bore

-E

The now for ever more to be called B-52 RO is not a different note or tone - its pitch is just like plain old vanilla low octave RO - but it is so loud and so vibrant, that it sounds like the engine of a...B-52 bomber.   

One player I know who can make a shockingly loud RO of this kind is Peter Hill.  He's got an amazing RO.

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#12 2006-04-23 23:17:07

edosan
Edomologist
From: Salt Lake City
Registered: 2005-10-09
Posts: 2185

Re: Air volume/tone duration

I admire Peter's sound as well.

Some flutes do not lend themselves to putting out this kind of Ro. In my experience, it's the so-called 'modern' flute design which makes it most possible, ie, ji-ari, tapered bore. Although there are certainly exceptions, most ji-nashi flutes seem to have a harder time producing the 'crackling' B-52 quality in a Ro, even with an apt player at the helm. If pushed, the sound will often break up, or slip into the next octave. This is of course true also for many ji-ari flutes.

It is common these days for an experienced player to pick up a new flute and, first thing, see what sort of a 'B-52' they can get out of it, thereby judging the 'quality' of the instrument. Whereas I do love that sound myself, I don't think it indicates the ultimate in flutes; many ancient, wonderful-sounding shakuhachi, do not have monster Ro's in them...

I think it must be due to the gradual taper in the bore, which permits the resonating air to 'pack up' in the bore and create the complex overtones and other artifacts in that sound.

My friend David Wheeler (shakuhachi performer, teacher, and ethnomusicologist in Boulder, CO) likes to say that it is achieved most completely by 'blowing from the heels'....


Zen is not easy.
It takes effort to attain nothingness.
And then what do you have?
Bupkes.

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#13 2006-04-24 01:21:51

evan kubota
Member
Registered: 2006-04-10
Posts: 136

Re: Air volume/tone duration

Maybe a related question-

I had been using an embouchure that was more 'pushed out,' like my lips were extending to meet the utaguchi. I tried playing with the technique on Perry's site, making a slight smile and keeping the lips against the front teeth. This seems to be a little tricky to do (my reflex is to move them closer to the utaguchi) but it seems to give a louder, clearer sound. What's going on? Are there any good close-up pictures of proper embouchure?

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#14 2006-04-24 11:59:09

edosan
Edomologist
From: Salt Lake City
Registered: 2005-10-09
Posts: 2185

Re: Air volume/tone duration

Here is a composite image which may help:

            http://img148.imageshack.us/img148/5030/blowingsmile9mq.jpg

Note the area indicated by the small gray arrows: This group of muscles is one of the keys to the shakuhachi embouchure. With proper practice and use they become quite strong. Riley Lee, in teaching, is wont to allow students to feel that area with their fingers while he 'makes a muscle'; the effect is impressive--feels somewhat like a sub-cutaneous telephone cable...smile


Zen is not easy.
It takes effort to attain nothingness.
And then what do you have?
Bupkes.

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#15 2006-04-24 16:00:22

abarefootboy
Member
From: by the river .. under the pine
Registered: 2006-02-18
Posts: 12
Website

Re: Air volume/tone duration

Thanks for the wonderful photos Edosan.

                         Myself ... ?

     I practice low Ro to the sound of a P-38 doing a slow .... low ... over head fly-by.

                                                                                                     http://img256.imageshack.us/img256/444/p38leadsm2eu.jpg

Last edited by abarefootboy (2006-04-25 12:40:52)


A single night of love is better than a hundred thousand years of sterile meditation."
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#16 2006-04-24 21:09:47

Seth
Member
From: Scarsdale, NY
Registered: 2005-10-24
Posts: 270

Re: Air volume/tone duration

Edosan-

Wow!

I think with your post of masters and their lips you have brought all shakuhachi forum and list serve discussion to an entirely new level of sophistication and power.

Deep, deep respect!

Seth

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#17 2006-04-24 22:12:36

edosan
Edomologist
From: Salt Lake City
Registered: 2005-10-09
Posts: 2185

Re: Air volume/tone duration

Aw, shucks...'twarn't nothin'.

Deep bows.


Zen is not easy.
It takes effort to attain nothingness.
And then what do you have?
Bupkes.

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#18 2006-04-25 01:42:19

Yungflutes
Flutemaker/Performer
From: New York City
Registered: 2005-10-08
Posts: 1061
Website

Re: Air volume/tone duration

edosan wrote:

Aw shucks.."twarn't nothin"

That's darn good art work there Ed! If you don't copywrite it, it's going to show up as a bootlegged poster at the next Shakuhachi Festival smile



kyoreiflutes wrote:

Does anyone just have a little clip from one of the songs you were mentioning? I have to hear this.

-E

I don't have a modern shakuhachi with me but I do have a 2.4 Chikusing I've been working on for someone so I can demonstrate the B52 Ro on this flute. As of yet, it doesn't have lacquer in the bore so it's a little less intense. Also keep in mind that I am also recording this on my Mac Ibook. Many shakuhachi recordings these days are done in great state-of-the-art facilities with wide diaphram mics. This one's done on my laptop mic. You'll have to imagine what this would sound like live in a room.


Hear a B52RO sound sample.

Many players of the Dokyoku style push the Ro to some sortof overtone whenever there's a sustain on Ro.  You can hear Yokoyama Katsuya play like that often on his Honkyoku recordings. Sasa buki is meant to train the player to be able to hear and play with this in mind. The shape of the bamboo leaf can be long and thin, or short and fat. Either way, there is a swell, or, crescendo to the fattest point of the leaf and then a decrescendo to a thin point.

edosan wrote:

It is common these days for an experienced player to pick up a new flute and, first thing, see what sort of a 'B-52' they can get out of it, thereby judging the 'quality' of the instrument. Whereas I do love that sound myself, I don't think it indicates the ultimate in flutes; many ancient, wonderful-sounding shakuhachi, do not have monster Ro's in them...

I had a great time seeing one of these experienced players wander from vendor to vendor during the Big Apple Shakuhachi Festival. Monty Levenson was across from me to the right, John Neptune was in front of me and Murai Eigoro was to my left. He basically went from table to table blowing only the Atomic Ro. Ken's (Lacosse) table was down a bit from mine so I lost track of him but I'm sure he must've dropped the bomb on Ken too smile.

In all fairness, I like the Atomic Ro. It's not the first thing I look for when I try out a flute but it is high on my list of criteria when I make a flute.


Peace, Perry

Last edited by Yungflutes (2009-04-27 12:25:53)


"A hot dog is not an animal." - Jet Yung

My Blog/Website on the art of shakuhachi...and parenting.
How to make an Urban Shakuhachi (PVC)

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#19 2006-04-25 07:10:04

Thorsten
Member
From: London
Registered: 2005-10-17
Posts: 29
Website

Re: Air volume/tone duration

B-52 Ro, Atomic Ro ... maybe I'm overreacting here but maybe some Japanese (and others) may find this a curious choice of terminology for a characteristic of a japanese instrument (or any instrument for that matter) given that as you all know B-52s 'Enola Gay' and 'Bock's Car' did the big 'Atomic Ro' to Hiroshima and Nagasaki...
There should be no need for this kind of connotation when describing shakuhachi sounds maybe someone can come up with another name.
And I mean no offence to the people who brought up that name as I am sure it was done in good spirits simply to describe a sonic texture.

Maybe '747 Ro' 'the Bigger Ro' or ... suggestions please !

Just a thought.

Th.

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#20 2006-04-25 10:25:23

Mujitsu
Administrator/Flutemaker
From: San Francisco
Registered: 2005-10-05
Posts: 885
Website

Re: Air volume/tone duration

To 'honk' or not to honk?

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#21 2006-04-25 10:33:07

Mujitsu
Administrator/Flutemaker
From: San Francisco
Registered: 2005-10-05
Posts: 885
Website

Re: Air volume/tone duration

Yungflutes wrote:

I had a great time seeing one of these experienced players wander from vendor to vendor during the Big Apple Shakuhachi Festival. Monty Levenson was across from me to the right, John Neptune was in front of me and Murai Eigoro was to my left. He basically went from table to table blowing only the Atomic Ro. Ken's (Lacosse) table was down a bit from mine so I lost track of him but I'm sure he must've dropped the bomb on Ken too smile.

In all fairness, I like the Atomic Ro. It's not the first thing I look for when I try out a flute but it is high on my list of criteria when I make a flute.


Peace, Perry

Yeah! That was quite a 'Honk Fest!' Ha!

Ken

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#22 2006-04-25 11:55:46

kyoreiflutes
Member
From: Seattle, WA
Registered: 2005-10-27
Posts: 364
Website

Re: Air volume/tone duration

Well, looks like I should just buy my next flute, since none of mine can do that. They play, but not near that loud, not without going into the 2nd octave.

Thanks for the sound clip, Perry. You da man. wink

-Eddie


"The Universe does not play favorites, and is not fair by its very Nature; Humans, however, are uniquely capable of making the world they live in fair to all."    - D.E. Lloyd

"Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee."    -John Donne

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#23 2006-04-25 15:01:45

dstone
Member
From: Vancouver, Canada
Registered: 2006-01-11
Posts: 552
Website

Re: Air volume/tone duration

A conversation with Nigel Tufnel, shakuhachi maker...

"You see, most blokes, you know, will be blowing Ro at ten. You're at ten here, all the way up, all the way up, all the way up, you're on ten on your shakuhachi. Where can you go from there? Where?"

"I don't know."

"Nowhere. Exactly. What we do is, if we need that extra push over the cliff, you know what we do?"

"Put it up to eleven."

"So what you're saying, Nigel, is that your shakuhachi has a Ro that goes to eleven?"

"Eleven.  Exactly.  One louder."


When it is rainy, I am in the rain. When it is windy, I am in the wind.  - Mitsuo Aida

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#24 2006-04-25 16:35:28

Travis Winegar
Member
From: Columbia, MO
Registered: 2005-10-31
Posts: 74
Website

Re: Air volume/tone duration

dstone wrote:

A conversation with Nigel Tufnel, shakuhachi maker...

"You see, most blokes, you know, will be blowing Ro at ten. You're at ten here, all the way up, all the way up, all the way up, you're on ten on your shakuhachi. Where can you go from there? Where?"

"I don't know."

"Nowhere. Exactly. What we do is, if we need that extra push over the cliff, you know what we do?"

"Put it up to eleven."

"So what you're saying, Nigel, is that your shakuhachi has a Ro that goes to eleven?"

"Eleven.  Exactly.  One louder."

This is the greatest thing I've read today smile


"As soon as you see something, you already start to intellectualize it. As soon as you intellectualize something, it is no longer what you saw." Shunryu Suzuki

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#25 2006-04-25 20:32:29

kenbo
Member
From: Sydney but living in Kanazawa
Registered: 2005-10-24
Posts: 8

Re: Air volume/tone duration

At the recent Bisei Honkyoku Workshop, Yokoyama sensei was talking about the importance of practising Ro-buki and mentioned that unfortunately, none of his teachers under him produced the kind of Ro he was seeking which surprised me because I thought you couldn't get any better than what Kakizakai sensei can do with his Ro, but he did mention that one person's Ro to be absolutely perfect and that is Fujiwara Dozan.

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