Saturday, 19 January 2008

Ouch. Iaido hurts....

Hurts my ego, that's what Iaidio hurts. I find it difficult being told my iai is poor. I don't feel angry or aggressive towards the critic rather disappointed in myself or my performance. My good friend John thinks I'm hyper critical of myself and I think he's probably right. I need to find a balance between pushing myself towards an idea of perfection and trying to live like that and not being devastated if I drop off the path. Just get back up and back on...

And this is what I'm writing about. After two difficult iaido sessions I was driving home and felt glum. "I'm not going next week", I thought for about 2 seconds then in a sudden flash of realisation I shook my head to rid myself of that thought! Last week I my mind was unfocused, no zanshin, and certainly no mushin. I was so worked up I felt all hot and bothered and my mind kept wandering to the thought of global warming. This came about as I looked at the dark windows with mud streaks on them; for a moment I was fooled into thinking it was rain: but no rain! Mild weather for January, ergo: global warming. Consequently no mushin. Boo! The sadder aspect of this for me is that I didn't focus and get on with my iai. It affected my iai.

So this week came around and I was determined to diligently work through my setei iai. This was a good beginning mind set and I went about it seriously. Until sensei picked me up on something. You think I'm being petty? Well let me tell you- I think I was too! As ever he was kind and informative and coached me through Shihogiri and my ego was bruised. But there is no place for ego in the dojo. Especially when there are so many masters who have gone before who have shown humility towards younger and less experienced students. My lesson has been learned. I need to implement it now, next time my wanders. I wonder what the weather is like later....

Shihogiri
  • The first strike with the hilt must show real intent to forestall the attacker. Large and powerful movement quickly executed!
  • Draw the sword out and up to threaten this first opponent, with good sayabiki, the the threat is maintained. Once the sword is released and out at chest level, pivot the feet, do not step out.
  • Thrust second opponent, strike first opponent, cutting him down.
  • With a feeling of moving through ukenagashi the hands move up and back (or to the left of the head) as the body turns and moves towards third opponent. If an opponent was striking down at this time the body will already be moving away.
  • Turn through waki gamae. Note: turn sword down first then body follows.
  • Strike down fourth opponent.
  • Return to j┼Źdan-gamae. Crucially keep seme on the opponent and raise the tip of the sword first, as if cutting upwards along the centre line of the stricken man (in my case my opponent is a man)
Also see pp258-268 Japanese Swordsmanship-Technique and Practice by Warner and Draeger.

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