Tuesday, 18 October 2011

MMKDG - Session #3 Grading for 4th Dan

Date: Sunday, October 16 starting at 11:30am in the Heritage Lounge at the JCCC
Participants (6): P. Schramek [5D], M. Hodge [4D], N. Chau [3D], M. Suen [3D], P. Suen [3D], K. Adams [3D]
Topic(s): Requirements for 4D grading

Our discussion was based on an article written by Peter West Sensei (Renshi 7 Dan) of the British Kendo Association. http://kendo.org.uk/articles/the-4th-dan-barrier-in-iaido/

Recall that the goal of this discussion group is to compile our understanding and points of view, in hopes of coming up with the real questions that need to be asked. When analyzing Japanese terms, we leveraged the Chinese definition of their Kanji to get a wider view of meaning.


1. What is Fukaku () and how do you demonstrate it?

Definition: Character. Personality. Style. (Chinese: Charisma. Confidence. Self-Assurance.)
- How would you show this? Does it come naturally from enough keiko, or do you need to inject into your practice? Are you showing yourself in a fighting situation or in all situations?

Application: Ability to respond. Not nervous. Know that you can show your best.

- Is there a difference in your Fukaku when:

  • Performing a Demo? Show your best
  • When in a Grading? Show your level
  • When in a Taikai? Beat your opponent

- Is it all the same, or does it change?
  • Low level (Same) -> High level (Different). Is it something you control as you get better?
  • High level (Same) -> Low level (Different). Is it something that merges as you get better?

- Perhaps it is like a shell. Your inner Fukaku is the same for all encounters, while your outer Fukaku may change as naturally as the scenario.

- Who determines if you have it or not? Is it the audience? Does the audience need a level of understanding to see it? Does it change based on this understanding?


2. What is Aji () and how do you demonstrate it?

Definition: Flavour. Charm. Style. Experience. (Chinese: Taste. Feeling.)
- How do you demonstrate it? Does it only exist when you compare with another person's? What does it mean to not have Aji?

Application: Perhaps it is the essence of the technique. The Jutsu rather than the Do. To create an impression of realism and awe. All ingredients combined to define the scenario, to convince and educate the observer that what you are doing is real.

Perhaps it is the intention. 

Perhaps it is the combination, the merging of all your individual technique movements into a fluent, consistent style. By repetitive training with a certain mindset, finally developing into a person's complete Iai shown through depth of practice.


3. What is Shisei (姿勢) and how do you demonstrate it?

Definition: Posture. Attitude. Approach. (Chinese kanji breakdown: Shi (姿) = Figure. Form. Shape. and Sei (勢) = Forces. Energy

- There is both a physical and mental aspect to this term.

Application: The unifying of Ki (気) Spirit and Tai (体) Body, through the cycle of reinforcing mindset through body and body through mindset (see Ex 1)

Ex 1. A person who is confident will naturally have their chin up, their chest out, and shoulders back. A person who lacks confidence, but purposely forces their chin up, their chest out, and their shoulders back, would naturally start to feel more confident. As that feeling grows, their posture will also grow stronger. Process repeats.

Shisei can also be defined with a combination of two terms found in the AJKF's Japanese-English Dictionary of Kendo.

  • Migamae (身構え) - A physical posture where one is conscious of one's whole body, and is ready to respond to the opponent's movement.
  • Kigamae (構え) - The state where one's entire body is alert and ready to react to the moves of the opponent's body and mind preceding a strike.

4. What is Kan Kyu (緩急) timing and how do you demonstrate it?

Definition: Slow Fast. Often used in conjunction with Kyo Jaku (強弱) Strong Weak. 

Application: Used to show contrast => Life in your movements. Non-robotic.
- How do you show this? Based on scenario.
- Perhaps it can be related to Jo Ha Kyu (急) and Tame (ため). But How?

--> JoHaKyu is not a timing of slow/faster/fastest. To be stuck on this ideal of an acceleration would imply the inability to prevent it's completion.

Jo - Defined as Beginning
Ha  - Defined as to Break. Tear.
Kyu 急 - Defined as Sudden. Quick.


We also talked a little about Ma and Ma-ai, but spent very little time on it, so will save for another session.

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