Friday, 16 September 2011

Welcome! ...part 3 of 6

How did I get here? ( 2009 )

2009 . Cultivation

They say when you receive shodan you are now a beginner. They say the same thing when you're around sandan. So what makes you a beginner?

About a week ago, we were at a friend's house playing with his daughter. She's almost two years old now and curious about everything! "Why does this make a sound when I do this, and doesn't when I do this?", "Why does this light up and that doesn't?"

There's a book my brother read that explains this feeling as knowing something will happen, but not knowing what it is. Not assuming anything. => You know there is something you don't know.

Not unlike a beginner's mind, don't you think?

Achieving shodan in Iaido means you've memorized the movements for at least five kata. So you know what to do..... But what now? What don't you know? To find out, you have to go back to the basics. Footwork, Metsuke, Posture, Big movements. As these are developed, you would start thinking about the situation or scenario. Where is the opponent? What is his/her intent? How fast is he/she moving?

Around sandan? Things don't seem work anymore. "My opponent is too fast for me", "My body isn't responding the way my mind wants it to". What am I missing? What don't I know? As it was at the shodan level, to find out, you have to go back to the basics. Except these basics are even more basic than the shodan basics. What the fudgsicle!? How do you break through this barrier?

In 2009, we started noticing something was missing in our training. You can only be spoon-fed so much in a martial arts class. The rest you have to figure out for yourself. "Kufu-Geiko" they call it. Experimentation. "Mitori-Geiko", observation practice. Self-motivation is very important at this time. Without external feedback, it is important to understand how our bodies move and feel while training. What allows us to balance, cut, and move easier.

You will continue to require guidance, of course, and there's no better place than the source! They say, and I would agree, that to get to the next level (or the level after that) it is eventually a requirement that you have some training in Japan.  Our goal was to make the journey ever other year.

As I did for our previous trip, reports can be found on EJMAS:
Part 3 - Class

We had quite a blast this trip and brought back lessons we would continue to benefit from to this day.
With thanks to Kikkawa, Yoshimura, Hatakenaka, and Tsubaki Sensei, and with my honey cheering us on, Michael and I successfully challenged sandan at the CKF December Grading. Everyone else seemed to have fun as well ^_^
Bunny Ears! 2009 Iaido Grading, Etobicoke

Cover Shot! 2009 Iaido Grading, Etobicoke

Some people just don't understand the Cover Shot!
By now, you might have noticed that Part three of our trip to Japan ended with a "stay tuned". Unfortunately, I never got around to writing about it. So anyways, here is where our story detours from Iaido into Kyudo.
Part 4 of our trip began with us meeting Mie in Tokyo to go shopping for Kyudo gear. She had just arrived back in Japan to pack some more of her belongings as her bid for a work Visa in Canada was successful. We were extremely happy for her...maybe even selfishly happy for ourselves, as our instructor would be staying with us long term.
Our shopping trip took us to Asahi Archery, the store chain opened by Onuma Sensei. Those who have read the DeProspero book "Illuminated Spirit" will recognize the name, while those who haven't, should definitely check it out. Even if you do not practice Kyudo.
The store owners were very friendly and even gave us tea and candies while we browsed their inventory. We repaid their kindness by emptying our wallets. =P
Purchasing Kyudo Gear at Asahi, Tokyo
We left the store around lunch time and had to think long and hard about what we wanted to ea...KAITEN SUSHI!!!!!! OM NOM NOM NOM

Anyways, with a full stomach, and bags full of Kyudo gear, we headed towards Meiji Jingu to get a look at their Kyudojo. Mie was able to negotiate our entrance, as you would normally have to be a member of the Kyudo federation. We got a short tour of the building and watched a class of high-school students practice in the Shajo.  The facilities were spectacular! Everything was immaculate, from the walls, to the floors and stairs.  We even had the pleasure of using one of the upper rooms for some makiwara shooting! ^_^
Makiwara Practice at Meiji Jingu, Tokyo
Apparently, every few years, an international Kyudo seminar is held in Japan. I wonder when we'll get the chance to shoot at Meiji Jingu again. ^_^

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