Friday, February 17, 2006

Tinkering, and Rebuilding

Recently, Tanaka Sensei has been trying to get me to change some pretty fundamental stuff, like how I sit in seiza, how I grasp the sword, how I cut, and how I draw. It's great, but it's also pretty scary.

Kim always told us that we should never be upset about changing our iaido. When a teacher tells us to do something a different way, we should just do it a different way, and not ask why, or try to determine which way is the "right way" and try to cling to that. It seems to be a way to keep your iaido flexible - "Today, you're doing it this way, don't ask why." If you find yourself unable to do it the new way, or even if you find yourself getting irritated with this "new" way, it's probably because you have gotten into a rut of some kind. We should relish the challenge of trying something new.

So ... why is it so hard for me to wholeheartedly change how I'm doing things? These changes may, in fact, be quite small. I don't know yet. But I feel kind of like a proud automotive student, who has painstakingly managed to build an engine piece by piece from the ground up. You want me to change the oil? No problem! I can do that. You want me to change the spark plugs? Sure! But now you want me to change it from a V8 to a straight-6? WHAT?

I feel it's kind of the same. You want me to make my chiburui a bit flatter? Cool! You want me to use less right hand when I cut? Thanks for the tip! You want me to completely change the way I draw, rise up from seiza, cut on nukitsuke, and hold the sword? WHAT? There's some resistance there, I have to admit.

But having said that, I'm having fun. After all, these changes aren't really that radical, they just feel weird. Maybe it's because we start to regard our iaido as something material that we've accumulated over the years ... and if we change it, something intangible is being taken away from us. Pretty ridiculous when you put it that way, isn't it?

Anyway, tomorrow is the prefectural iaido seminar. I'll get the chance to meet a lot of people, probably, and see how some other teachers do things. More confusion! I'm starting to welcome it.


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