Monday, 23 November 2009
With respect to swords
I have enjoyed my fencing beginner's course with Cambridge Sword but something I find amazing, shocking and at the same time fascinating is the complete disregard for the weapon as an object of beauty, of spirit and as something to be respected.
At the start of the lesson we collect our equipment from the main 'Salle' and transport it over to the smaller one. This entails bringing a bunch of foils which are more often than not unceremoniously dumped on the floor and sometimes kicked into a corner! I understand that in fencing this is simply seen as another piece of equipment but having trained in iaido where the blade should be shown respect it shocks me a little.
The katana or indeed the iaito can be something of beauty and article to be loved in some way. Respect must be shown not only for spiritual reasons but for practical reasons: it's a weapon and deadly! Cleaning, caring and ensuring safety is paramount. The idea of using the sword sensibly is referred to as Satsu jin ken, katsu jin ken or life giving sword, life taking sword. A sword irresponsibly wielded can lead to death and destruction whereas a sword user with good intentions can use his or her sword to 'give' life.