Sunday, November 12, 2006

Budo Heaven or Budo Hell?

Hey! Sorry I haven't posted in a while, but I've been ridiculously busy, and a large part of that has been with martial arts (for a bit of a change). Considering my (ostensible) purpose in coming to Japan was to do budo, I've done a pretty good job of only getting half-way into it, and now I remember why: because I'm LAZY!

Well, these past few weeks I've been gearing up for my Jodo test in 2 weeks. I think I mentioned that I finally got permission to take a test in Japan, but I didn't consider the financial strain. And so I'm taking this test that I really can't afford to do... but oh well. What's a little more debt, right?

In preparation for the test, I've been going to Jodo in Oita city pretty religiously, to practice with Abe Sensei. That makes 4 practices a week, plus one iaido practice a week, plus another iaido practice that I just found out about and started going to ... so I'm doing something every day of the week except Friday night. I know this isn't really that unusual ... but it's kind of a shock to my system, especially since going to Oita takes 90 minutes each way. Argh.

I've also had some kind of weird? funny? experiences in the last couple weeks. The first was that I wanted to work on some iaido pointers that Sensei had given me, so I decided (after thinking quite a bit about it) to go and do iaido in the park. I was in a semi-enclosed walkway; I don't really know how to describe it except that it has stone tiles on the floor, and a latticed roof with vines over top, and pillars down one side. The other side is open to the courtyard where the kids skateboard. So here I show up, one Sunday night, with my sword wearing my samurai duds, and the kids all stop what they're doing and stare... there are a few comments, like "What the hell is THIS?" I tried to ignore them but they just stood around watching me for about 5 minutes while I went through seitei... it was very weird. I really didn't want to come to such a public place, but I guess they must have thought that I just wanted to be seen. My real concern, though, was that the police might come along and arrest me. I don't know how they would like the idea of people swinging swords in parks even though (to my mind) I'm probably safer than somebody playing baseball...

And then the other day, I had a fantastic experience. I showed up for iaido practice, as usual, and for some reason, the only other people who showed up were all the teachers! So there was lowly old me, and one eighth-dan who had won the All Japan 8 Dan Championship; one eighth-dan who had won the All Japan 7 Dan Championship, and a ninth-dan who I think taught God how to do iaido! Talk about overkill. In fact, it wasn't really a good session for me because they were all giving me lots of advice ... too much advice actually. "He should swing like this." "Yes, and he has to watch out for his back leg." "True, but his real problem is that his shoulders are too tense." "I told him that last week, so I think he should work on his metsuke and his seme!" (YES, it's all stuff you've told me before, Kim!) Anyway, it was just comical when I took a step back and looked at it ... here's this giant Canadian goofball, surrounded by three tiny little Japanese men, fussing and fawning over him, poking him and adjusting and prodding and chattering away in Japanese... I couldn't help but thinking of some scene in Star Wars where the Jawas come along and start tearing apart the droids...

So anyway, lots of practice lately, and my knees and ankles are really feeling it. I think I need to slow down, but I probably shouldn't, at least not until the grading.

Oh, and by the way, next week there will be the Oita Prefectural Kendo Festival, which is supposed to have some demonstrations, including yours truly doing jodo, and somebody (?) doing Niten Ichi Ryu. I'm guessing it will be the group from Usa (associated with Sekiguchi Ryu) so I'm anxious to videotape it with a camera I'll borrow from school, if possible...


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like your blog, can I link you to mine?

it's how you see and think while training, it's kind of similar to me

4:28 PM  

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