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Well, if that is the case, then this video of me is enough to easily write a five paragraph essay, if not more on what NOT to do. When I first watched this video of me at the weapons seminar I attended a couple of months ago (which feels like eons ago by the way), I was excited that I happened to be captured in this clip and was put in this month's edition of Biran (Birankai newsletter). Since my first viewing, my elation has disappeared and instead, a bitter taste is left in my mouth. I compare it to sitting down and thinking you are about to eat a perfectly ripe banana, but after you take a big bite, you realize that the bitter taste left in your mouth is because you have a mouthful of peel instead.
Despite myself, I continue to shove the banana peel in my mouth and endure the bitterness with each time I hit the "replay" button on the video. With each viewing, I am reminded just how inadequate my technique is and I seem to find something else wrong every time I watch it. I find my thoughts going from happiness to "Ugh… why did they have to put ME in the clip! Out of three days of filming, you chose THIS!?!?!" In this clip, I am mostly surrounded by yudansha who are gliding across the mats like swans on a placid lake and their bokken's are cutting through the air with the gracefulness of a sakura blossom that has leapt from the branches and is descending towards its final resting place. Then, you realize that something is pulling your attention away from all this beauty. That is when you see this ugly ducking flailing about with the grace equivalent to a cow walking on ice. That is when I realize that I am now embarrassed to be in this clip…..
Then the question is, if I'm so embarrassed, why am I blogging about it where several people will read it, potentially view the video and then comment on my disastrous debut into the youtube world? Truthfully, I don't have an answer. Am I a glutton for punishment or a martyr? I'd like to think I'm neither. Instead, I only really have one thought in my mind as I chew on this bitter banana peel "How can I improve?" I want to shikko across the mat in graceful stillness (stillness in movement that is). I want to learn to make a beautiful arcing cut that actually stops parallel to the ground instead of dropping and coming back up. I want my cut to be one free of tension and instead embrace the sense of freedom that I feel when I occasionally make a good cut. I want to have a sense of expansion and extension instead of having a compact cut that feels more like its contracting. I know what it is that I seek… and I know how to go about getting it.
The answer to almost any question is "Practice." or "More practice." I know that if I show up and put the time in, my faults will slowly begin to correct themselves. With each class I attend and put forth effort, an ugly gray feather falls away. Although it will take many years, I know that I too could one day emerge from the waters a beautiful graceful swan. It is this slow and sometimes painful process of self fault recognition that can foster a sense of empathy and humility along your journey. Although this bitter banana peel is awfully hard to swallow, I can't help but wonder what I would have looked like two years ago doing the exact same tsuburi I was doing in this video clip. The thought of that makes me feel a tiny bit better….
So without further ado, here is the link to a few photos and the video of my disastrous youtube debut.
If you want the direct youtube link, this is it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aeEPRdcLsfc
(The video make take a second to show up on the page)