Wednesday, September 26, 2007

I'm back

I went to practice last night. With the exception of the single day of practice I mentioned before, it's the first time in six weeks. When am I going to learn this is not the way forward?

We were doing Seitei iai for a little while, but then Sensei declared that we should practice koryu. I don't know how to say this without sounding whiny and defeatist, but I just wasn't built to do Sekiguchi ryu. My legs don't fold that way. Maybe with constant practice I'll be able to get there someday, but right now it seems impossible. So they just kept telling me the same things: "Go lower! Deeper stance! Back straight!" which (currently) are impossible for me. It was kind of frustrating, but I did the best I could. Because I have been inactive for almost 2 months, though, my head was reeling after a while, and today my legs (and toes!) are really sore. As Mr. Sakashita said, "Pain and sports always come together."

Anyway, I have a couple more videos for you. The first one is one of the funniest things I've seen in a while, although it has some coarse language.

Cautionary Tales of Swords

This next one is just ... sad. I like it when frauds are exposed but ... I don't know. The guy claims to be a master of "Ki" who can beat you up from across the room. It seems to be a case of mass-hypnosis, as his students also appear to believe it. Unfortunately, the guy who accepts his challenge is not a believer.


Thursday, September 20, 2007

Back in Japan

After six weeks of near-total inactivity, I'm back in Japan. While I was in Canada, I did attend one day of iai training in Fredericton, New Brunswick, with Bill Anderson's group there. Kim Taylor and Dave Green were down from Ontario to lead the seminar. It was great. Kim has such a good eye and a good way of explaining things that he fixed my chiburi in about 5 seconds, and had good advice for my cut. (I haven't touched a sword since then, so we'll see whether or not I remember any of what he told me.) Anyway, it was good to see them both again, and to meet new folks in NB.

I was a bit annoyed by the fact that there is no standardization in Seitei iai, as they are doing things somewhat differently than I am being taught, but whatever ... I should be getting used to it by now. (I'll say it again: if anybody out there thinks there is just ONE way to do something, and that's the "right" way ... well, sorry, you're just plain mistaken. There may be a right way to do it when a particular teacher is watching, but as soon as somebody else comes along, get ready to change.) Things seem to run in cycles, too. What was in style 10 years ago is back in style now.

Before I left, I dropped in at Kip and Carole's place in Toronto. (Carole is my senior in iaido and one of the best iaido-ists in Canada.) She had some videos of events in Toronto, and I was struck by how many of the young people there are much better than I am! Argh. Oh to be young, fit, and strong.

So anyway, I'm back in Tokyo for a few days. Yesterday, I had some errands to run (registering with the Chiyoda-ku office for example) which found me in Kudanshita, right beside the Budokan. There is a small martial arts supply shop on the corner, and I had some time to kill, so I went in there and looked at all the nice iaito they have there. It really made me want to re-fit my katana (right after I get it polished ... yeah, right!) with new fittings - magical fittings that will somehow make me better at iaido! Since I didn't have $1000 to drop on a new iaito, I settled for buying some leather-soled tabi. I was very pleasantly surprised to find my size! (I'm worried about the day I move back to Canada; they are more strict about the use of tabi and generally don't allow them to be worn. I wonder if I could get away with it...)

I'll be back in Oita in a few days, and hopefully back in training soon. This is bound to be uncomfortable since I've been so inactive the last couple months. I can expect shaky legs and sore arms, that's for sure. And sweaty feet. Don't forget the sweaty feet. Argh.