Dear fellow members of International Shintaido,


We wish good health and peace of mind to you and your families during what is surely a time like no other we have experienced. As the board of directors comes to grips with the challenges and uncertainties that the covid-19 pandemic presents, we are grateful to have our community and the practice of Shintaido, which can help sustain, strengthen and ground us. It can also bring us together in ways that we had not fully realized until now, as we reach out to one another, using the Internet and other means, to stay in touch and even practice "alone together". As our community rallies in mutual support, we the board are inspired and heartened as we plan for the adjustments our organization will make for a new reality.

In light of this reality, we have decided to postpone this year's international gasshuku, Biwako 2020. The decision may seem like an obvious one, as the pandemic forces people globally to change their priorities and ways of living for the foreseeable future. We did not make the decision lightly. We did so reluctantly and in consultation with the Biwako organizers in the Kansai region of Japan, who also discussed this situation with Ito Sensei, the technical director.

We took into account a number of factors such as the uncertainty about how the pandemic would evolve, including the risk that it would slow down in the summer and reactivate in the fall, the financial hardship caused by the loss of work and loss of savings -- which has already led some of you to signal that attendance would be unlikely -- and the simple fact that, overall, none of us knows what the world will be like six months from now. We also debated on whether to wait another two or three months before making this decision, but we concluded that most if not all of the present uncertainties would still be with us and that most of our members would prefer to know early if the event were indeed going to be postponed. So we felt we should not delay this decision, despite our unavoidable disappointment.

Our Kansai members tell us they are still willing to host and will be working with us to determine a new date. There is general support for delaying by one year and holding the event in November of 2021. As we work on this question, we will likely reach out to you to ask your opinions and preferences.

We understand the postponement of the gasshuku presents its own set of challenges to our members, and we are sorry for that. Regional and national groups have built this year's calendars of events around the Biwako gasshuku. And many of us individually have already made plans for attending the event this year, purchasing tickets, making down payments, reservations and so forth. Be assured that anyone who has made an early down payment to attend Biwako 2020 will be refunded in full minus any transaction fees. The organizers will be in touch with those members individually. It is likely they will offer the option of transferring existing reservations to the newly scheduled event.

Among the most important plans affected by our decision are those for the high-level exams. Holding these exams is a primary function of our organization, and the Board and ITEC take the responsibility of providing opportunity to take high-level exams most seriously. We are aware that it would be a disappointment and a disruption to many of our members if we do not hold these exams in 2020. For this reason we are still considering whether it would be reasonably possible to somehow hold exams this year. ITEC will be considering the matter in the coming weeks. We ask for your patience and hope you will reach out to any one of us on the board or ITEC if you wish to express your feelings on the matter.

Despite the disruptions and hardships that the pandemic will cause us, we hope to find opportunity in this crisis to become closer and further our work of developing and sharing Shintaido.

Be well and at peace!


The Board of International Shintaido

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