Sunday, October 15, 2006


My quest to do a grading continues. I was on the phone to Namitome Sensei last night and he told me that there would be a jodo grading in Oita in November. That was followed by a flurry of calls and ended up with me calling the 7th-dan Jodo teacher in Oita to arrange a meeting to look at my certificates and other stuff. So ... who knows ... I don't want to jinx myself by saying anything but ... I might actually get to grade this fall.

In the meantime, the APU Jodo Club is expanding! Somehow, we have attracted a lot of members. They don't always come at the same time, but ... on paper, we have almost 20 people, from a load of different countries. It's great! We're practicing twice a week, but this semester both practices are outdoors. It's not a problem now, but I can see it being less than ideal when it starts snowing...

Iaido has been really good lately. The All-Japan championships are happening next weekend in Hokkaido, and so our 3 representatives for Oita have been practicing like crazy for the past few weeks. And they are pretty darn good! Particularly the 7th dan representative, Mr. Kosaka. Wow, he is incredibly strong and sharp! I have been learning a lot just by watching him from the corner of my eye ... you know, exactly what you're not supposed to do: Sensei is talking to your group, but actually you're not listening and instead you're watching what the big guys are doing on the other side of the gym. It's bad, but ... I have been stealing some pointers from him. Like in Mae, when he does furikaburi, the sword seems to fly up, not slide back; I don't know how he does it, exactly, but I really like the feeling he generates. I'd like to film him at some point and see it in slow mo ... my powers of observation just aren't there yet.

Anyway, if what I have heard recently (and observed last time in Chiba) is correct, then Hokkaido will do well at the next tournament. Nevertheless, I think Mr. Kosaka (and Mr. Nishino, the 6th dan rep) stand a really good chance of winning something. I hope they can bring some prizes back to Oita next weekend.

Azuma Sensei has been trying to get me to do a couple things lately. One is to lower my center of gravity and keep my weight back and down so that my body doesn't "wobble" when I cut and when I turn. The other is to put my left hand on the tsuka earlier, and to cut more directly. I guess my cuts are too round and too soft at the bottom. Actually, I know they are.

So I have my work cut out for me. I have to focus on Jo over the next few weeks, so that I can pass my examination. And after that, I can go back to neglecting Jodo again, haha!

Oh, one more random thought: my friend called me up a few weeks ago and was kind of upset because he failed his 3rd dan iaido test. The thing he did was he screwed up the chiburui on number 9, so he decided to do the technique again. Probably, the judges wouldn't even have noticed except suddenly, here's this guy who's still doing kata after everyone has finished and, wait a minute, didn't he do that one already?? His justification was that "this is Budo" and you have to do it seriously and you can't just be satisfied if you make a mistake, you have to go back and do it properly. But I think he's got it backwards: you've only got one chance, every time you do a kata. It is precisely the feeling that you CANNOT go back and do it over again that makes it Budo, I would think. I didn't really tell him that, because he was disappointed with the outcome. But I understand why he failed. Oh well ... as a wise man once said, "Pity the person who never fails, because they never get to feel what it's like to struggle for something." Having said that, I hope I pass my Jodo grading...


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