Once, I engaged my teacher with this same argument. He asked me, "Why are you here?" "To learn the discipline or to confirm your views about the discipline?" I replied that I was there to learn. I had nothing to confirm because at the time, I was ignorant about the discipline. He then said to me, "IF you are ignorant about our discipline, it is presumtuous for you to decide by yourself whether what I teach to you is right or wrong. Only time, mastery and experience can help you decide." Many years later after this conversation, I find that I do the same. I had a student who had a tendency to place all his weight to his left. No matter how many times I tried to correct him, he would simply lean to the left. It was very easy to deflect his bokken in such a way that he would stumble or fall. In Iai, like in many other discipline, some teachers have the tendency of borrowing a didactict method from Buddhism, called "houben" which is the Japanese reading of the Chinese "fang1bian4" which in turn is the translation of the Paali and Sanskrit term, "upaaya" (the complete term is "upaaya kausalya") meaning "skillful means" to awaken a person. The idea behind "houben" is that a Buddha or a teacher, knows what is most appropriate to help that person along. This presciption may not be correct for someone else. Also, this prescription is appropriate for a given individual at a given time, place and circumstances. If the circumstances were to change, for instance, the presciption would change. Going back to my student, I know that overemphasis to the right when doing suburi is not correct. But I constantly forced this student to do so. In time, over a period of several years, he corrected the habit of leaning to the left and started to emphasize the right. Then, I contradicted myself by saying, this overemphasis to the right is WRONG. Stop doing so. Thus, in Iai like in many other things, there is NO SINGLE RIGHT answer. JK
As one of my first instructors once said "if you fall to the ground your body gave out, if you stand up and walk away your mind gave out"
Subject: Re: character issues and more (Red.: it is about teaching a not so good person) If you're mostly worried about the rep of the school, kick out the rascals, allow only the pure of character and high social standing to attend and thereby raise your own status. If you're mostly concerned with a smoothly running class of like minded folks, kick out the rascals, train with the easily bidden to ease your teaching load. If you consider what you're doing to be deadly dangerous stuff that provides the students with the ability to kill at a glance, kick out the rascals, keep the world safe by denying this knowledge to the unscrupulous. But If we assume that what we're doing is much less deadly than a relatively easily obtained firearm, or even the kitchen drawer carving knife, than we can forget number 3. Now, posit that the martial arts do people some good. That they might have the ability to turn aggressive people into more tolerant, socially well adjusted people. The evidence for this does exist, both anecdotally but more importantly, in the soc. literature. Now further posit that your aim, as an instructor, is to produce people of high character. Note that I said produce, not teach or associate with, but produce. I would therefore submit that it is your moral duty, as an instructor, to not only continue to teach your rascal, but to seek out other rascals and teach them as well. If you are trained in first aid it is not a legal requirement that you help the injured, but it is your moral duty to do so. Trained or not I would suggest it is our duty to help in any case. It is, in a similar way, our moral duty to help those who are rascals. (Red.:================================================================)
- What does one do if one discovers a student hasn't been - behaving in a totally ethical manner with regard to some - people in his personal life (not fellow dojo members)? You do choose the thorny ones to throw out don't you, Deborah. Having lived through this in several incarnations and having perhaps been seen as one of less than ethical behavior I will pass on what I have learned from those who helped me. I was shown ( and now sincerely believe) that if you believe in your practice, if you have faith that what you are doing in your Art has the ability to "enlighten" then the answer is clear - encourage the person to continue their diligent practice. Kicking them out of the dojo is the LAST thing you should do. The dojo is probably one of the few places that this person is getting any solid role models and stability. Whether this is marital problems or abuse or whatever your member is suffering a lot of stress and life crap. They NEED some place in their life that is stable. So: Set clear, fair and high standards for behavior IN THE DOJO Set a clear example in your own behavior Zero tolerance for not making those standards Reward good behavior - harshly ignore improper conduct Personal problems are reflected in our practice. There is something that this student has as a chronic problem (eg too stiff, improper maai, no sense of opponent, poor spirit, body pain, etc, etc). Encourage the student to "look for the life metaphor" that matches the Art problem. Deborah, this is the heart of The Way. Please take care of it and your troubled dojo member.
When I bow to sensei I am giving thanks
to generations of sensei who have kept the Art alive so I can
study it here and now. I bow in thanks for their dedication and
willingness to teach.
When I am sitting in the teaching position I bow to the students in thanks for being there so I can continue to practice and learn from them (Your students are your best teacher - Kendo Maxim).
This, to me, is what separates Kendo and Iaido from other martial arts. This bond of mutal respect and the Living link back through history are vital yet tenuous parts of the art. Let them pass from the Art and you get McDojo and Mine-is-Bigger-than-Yours Ryu.
Kendo Begins with Rei and End with Rei (AJKF Kendo Handbook)
There are Three parts to Iaido;
They are equally important - Omori-sensei (hanshi hachidan)
various interpretations of "the sword that gives life" as opposed to "the sword that takes away life."
The terms "katsujin-ken" and "setsunin-to" were originally borrowed from Buddhism, most likely from a text called the Biyanlu ("Blue Cliff Record"), a collection of Zen koan. Buddhist usage follows the literal meaning of the terms ("life-giving sword" and "death-giving sword"), but the terms do not appear to have been used in this literal meaning in martial art (that is, to differentiate techniques or approaches to martial art designed to kill or spare the opponent) until sometime in the 20th century.
The first appearance of the terms in bugei writings appears to be the diploma that Kamiizumi Ise-no-kami Nobutsuna gave to Marume Kurodo-no-suke Nagayoshi in 1567. Their most famous usage is in Yagyu Tajima-no-kami Munenori's Heiho kaden sho and in Yagyu Jubei Mitsuyoshi's Tsuki no sho. The Kamiizumi scroll just list the terms, it doesn't explain them. The earliest bugei appearance of the terms with commentary is Yagyu Sekishusai Muneyoshi's Motsujimi shudan kudensho.
In bugei usage, these terms have two fundamental applications, neither of which has anything to do with killing or not killing (again, this usage doesn't occur until modern times; Tokugawa period usage from ryuha to ryuha appears to be consistent). That is, in the bugei these are tactical constructs, not ethical ones. Katsujin-ken is preferable to setsunin-to because it represents more sophisticated and more effective swordsmanship, not because it represents a higher morality.
The first usage, the one explained in Muneyoshi's Motsujimi shudan kudensho, distinguishes a "living sword"--one that adapts freely to changes of situation--from a "dead" or mechanical sword--one that follows predetermined patterns. Katsujin-ken is lively, adaptive swordsmanship; setsunin-to is dead, fixed swordplay.
The second usage, the one Yagyu Jubei Mitsuyoshi appears to be getting at in his Tsuki no sho, points to the difference between overwhelming an opponent (in its crudest incarnation, simply intimidating him into submission) vs. drawing him out--swordsmanship that gives life to the opponent's will and actions, vs. swordsmanship that attempts to crush them.
sei is "quiet, peace, stillness"
chu is "within"
no is "of"
do is "movement/action"
Center yourself, the perfect advice. Anyone who has felt that change in their body when they finally click with
centering yourself will know what I mean. By centering yourself mentally, your body naturally follows suit to do
the same, and it feels like your hara has become a center of gravity with everything above and below it pushing
in towards it. Once this happens, unless you purposely change it, all of your movement will originate in your
hips. At least, that's how it's worked in my experience. I believe imagining you hara to be a gravitational force
that is seated atop your pelvis might help some students learn how to move from their hips more effectively.
From: Bruce Campbell From: John Ray ....
The very first thing to know is that you cannot "get into your center"
until you relax. Tai'chi practitioners tell me to think of Chi as a
river of energy and muscle tension is like a dam across that river. For
us in Iaido and Kendo this is very important since we are trying to get
our energy into the sword. If we use our shoulders then the power in
our bodies cannot flow into the blade. The result is a choppy, bouncy
cut, often with poor hasuji (edge direction)
So - RULE #1 - RELAX!
This is simple to say, of course, and HARD to do so a training technique
is to do some kata during each practice with a light sword (around 400g)
really slowly and with complete relaxation. Try to move your hips
forward before each part of the kata. For MJER or ZEN KEN Mae:
Hands to the sword - break open - HIIIIIIPS - nukitsuke
HIIIIIIPS - furiakburi
HIIIIIPS - kirioshi
Hips - Chirurui
HIPS - Noto
Be rudiculously big. Remember, the idea is not to do the kata well. It
is to feel your hips move while you are relaxed. Take the time to feel
your posture through this too. The posture rule is Ears over Shoulders
over Hips over Center.
Another common problem is hip direction. All to often we see someone
who has all the right movements but they are not focused. This can be
improved by thinking about where your hips are aligned. They should,
with minor exceptions, be square to the opponent.
So - RULE #2 - SQUARE YOUR HIPS TO THE OPPONENT
Next, I will speak a little about my short conversation with Sean.
Iaido has three pillars - Physical, Mental, and Spiritual. This seems
to be true in all of "art". If you are only Physical you become a
technician; only Mental you become a scholar; only Spiritual - you
become a monk. Study all three and you become a well rounded artist.
This is true for Iaido as a whole but can also be applied to any part of
Iaido. So, in the case of HIPS, you must think and feel center as much
as "doing" center.
You may improve your Thinking of center by asking the simple question:
RULE #3 - WHERE IS/ARE MY OPPONENT(S)?
Of Spiritual work I cannot say. I use meditation and follow the
examples of my teachers and students. I often ask "what is the
inner-voice saying" - mine and the thing I am listening too. Sorry,
hugely important but hard to express. Suffice to say that the more
centered you are in your life the more centered your hips will be.
And, finally, I will relate a funny story that happened to one of my
dojo members the last time Iwata-sensei was here. At the airport after
four 8 hour days of practice he asked sensei "How to I improve my hara.
I just don't understand." Sensie asked "What dan are you?" "Shodan".
"AHHH! don't worry. You won't understand until Rokudan (6th dan). Just
Hope this helps or is at least amusing.
Shinkenkai Iaido, Vancouver, CANADA
This idea of staying loose and being centered that Bruce was talking
about was so very clearly demonstrated by my teacher, Tanida, on a
here last month. A student was powering through his cut with his
shoulders, causing them to rise rather than sink at the end of his
Sensei used a word I didn't know to try to explain the problem.
Frustrated, he grabbed the end of his sageo and began "whipping" the
student, saying that the ends were loose, and fast, but the base (his
hand) was strong and solid. The hand is the hara, firmness in the
hips...the whip is the body above, up to and through the sword. A very
Hope this helps.
Center yourself, the perfect advice. Anyone who has felt that change in their body when they finally click with centering yourself will know what I mean. By centering yourself mentally, your body naturally follows suit to do the same, and it feels like your hara has become a center of gravity with everything above and below it pushing in towards it. Once this happens, unless you purposely change it, all of your movement will originate in your hips. At least, that's how it's worked in my experience. I believe imagining you hara to be a gravitational force that is seated atop your pelvis might help some students learn how to move from their hips more effectively.
From: Bruce Campbell From: John Ray ....
From: John Ray ....