Sunday, October 20, 2013

Use Your Head

At Jodo practice the other day, one of the Sensei was giving a few of us hell for just "going through the motions". He broke it down for us and explained why what we were doing made no sense from a Budo point of view. Specifically, if we moved in a certain way before striking, we were opening ourselves up completely to an attack. Uchidachi would never just stand there and let himself get hit in such a circumstance; he'd attack.
After practice, Sensei continued his discussion. Basically, it boiled down to this: you can't expect your teacher to tell you that you're doing something wrong all the time. Sometimes, you're doing something fairly subtle, and Sensei has bigger fish to fry, such as how some of the beginners have their footwork wrong.  Or, he may have shown you how to do it once, twice, or maybe even three times, and has (very reasonably) decided he's not going to tell you anymore.
But a big part of it is that, at some point, Sensei has to leave you to your own devices and force you to figure things out on your own. This can lead you down some dead ends, where you do something for years or even months before finally figuring out that it doesn't work. But self-examination is a crucial skill to develop. This process forces you to question everything you're doing, right down to the very basics. All those assumptions you made early on; all those teachings you took at face value without challenge - everything needs to be examined. What am I doing, and why am I doing it?  Am I doing it right?  Is there a way I could do this more efficiently, faster, with more power? Eventually, you are doing everything consciously again, your technique starts to fall apart, and you feel like a complete beginner. That is a good thing.  The alternative is to be stuck in a rut, making no progress, polishing the same old, wrong movements. It is a comfortable place to be, certainly, but it's not why you're there.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

48th All-Japan Iaido Championship

I flew down to Oita last week to cover the All-Japan Iaido tournament for Kendo World magazine. My report is up now, so please head over to Kendo World and check it out!  I will put up some extra pictures on here in a week or two, but for now, go there and check out the photos and video.  And if you don't have a subscription to Kendo World, get one!

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Practicing? Not much. Eating? Hell yeah!

Does this even qualify as a "budo" post?  Only marginally.  Went to a ramen shop the other day called "Noodle Shop: Musashi Niten".  The whole place was done up in a Miyamoto Musashi motif, from the front sign, with its two neon-lit swords...

To the curtain outside, with a nice little picture of Musashi leaping over Sasaki's cut to clock him on the noggin.

Here's a picture of the bowl of noodles I got.  You can see that even the counters have a Musashi / Sasaki motif, plus the crossed swords on the spoon.  Bowl had a design too.

The pun in the name (or in the menu, I suppose) is that you can get two kinds of tempura, hence "Ni Ten", with your noodles.  Mine came with chicken and pork.  Healthy!  I'm sure Musashi would approve.

So how was it?  Decor was awesome, and the service was great. (I really envied the staff their cool Musashi Niten t-shirts; apparently the shop did a collaboration with clothing giant UniQlo a couple years ago and sold a small number of the shirts.  Too bad I missed that!)  Unfortunately, the ramen was not amazing, but a lot of that is just down to personal tastes.  You might like it.  Apparently it's a chain, so you can find their shops throughout Tokyo.

So is this blog turning into a food review Blog?  Probably not ... I just needed something to ease me back into writing!  Sorry for the long absence; hopefully more soon.