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So for years I've been enjoying moving around to new Aikido dojos and learning from the similarities and differences in approach... This hasn't been a deliberate set of moves, but rather a function of my career and other decisions.
Once again, I get to enjoy this, as the Iaido informs my Aikido practice. I need to start making it to those Aikido classes, too.
I think one of the big benefits of crosstraining (or swapping dojos) with respect to the second situation (and possibly a reason why many underrate or overrate their first situation) is that your ability to learn and observe has been augmented and enhanced by your initial training.
What I was talking about was this... I was taught this weekend about the series of movements for bringing down at sword cut in shomenuchi, and it completely changed my thoughts on weapons cutting.
Specifically, when I had brought the sword up in the past, I had either brought it to the top of my head with the blade standing almost straight up (to keep an eye out for those behind me), or what I had thought was correct in that the tsuba was flat, and the blade mostly horizontal.
In all of this, most of the motion was from my wrist and shoulder.
So what I have been taught this weekend was that I need to bring the tsuba of the blade up higher, to let the grip of my left hands little fingers relax, and let the blade lean down at an angle somewhat, while thrusting the tsuba high.
Then, when I cut, there is a clear sequence of movements.
Left pinky contracts
Left ring finger contracts
Left thumb contracts
Left wrist drops and extends
Left elbow drops and extends
Left shoulder arm drops through and out of shoulders
Likewise with the right hand.
So what I'm saying is that I didn't realize that the left pinky finger starts the cut. I had been keeping a solid grip throughout, and so ruining the motion.
Keep in mind that this is something I need to think about more, and to work more into my cutting.... In addition, this has many implications for jo practice as well.
I may not be expressing this correctly, and it may be that next week's class w
Man, its really neat when you get told something in class that is completely new, completely consistent with everything else, and yet contradictory to what you've learned. It makes you happy that you came to class.
Many times, in my training, I have been told to move from my center (at least at some schools). I always thought I was. I now know at least some of what that means!!! If only I could get it to happen consistently. All those years of "bend your knees" and "twist your hips" were orthogonal..
Who am I kidding? Only one or two people emphasized this particular area in teaching, ts best, regardless of which of the them actually moved from center.
My sensei is writing an article for a magazine (not sure which one) and I was asked to translated it. I'm american and another dojo member is french. We were going over the translation, and there was one part about one of the goals of life is to cultivate to your character to the level of god, even though it's an unattainable goal. My french friend said that this idea of the unattainable goal would not be easy to understand for western people. This concept is a pretty basic part of all traditional arts in Japan, and I've become to used to it, it didn't occur to me. He said that western people can't understand having a goal that you can never reach. Since this forum's members are mostly from the western world, I wonder what everyone thinks.
I'm not sure that that is an idea unique to eastern culture. Most activities can (and often are) pursued with this level of perfection in mind. Ideals are typically seen as unreachable, or at least unmaintainable, but people persist.
After all, what interested parent isn't trying to be the best parent they can? Likewise with professional athletes, whom many admire. Many people try to do the best they can at their jobs or at being moral (or immoral) people - while recognizing that they themselves fall short of the ideal. This is an idea in many religions, as well.
I don't know of any Christian who thinks they are as good of person as Jesus Christ, for example, but many people keep trying.
I stopped being interested in rank - once I hit shodan. (Hopefully the irony in that statement is apparent.)
Its pretty interesting that the more rank you have, the less you value it. Not only that, but valuing it and seeking it becomes a "vice." And yet, I've never met a kyu rank who didn't want to test for their next kyu, with the exception of those much more elderly than the average student (and therefor prone to wax philosophical and sit on a high horse).
So it is that people forget what it is like to be young, and inexperienced, and to need validation, and for that to serve as motivation, and instead (at worst) let their lips say what their heart doesn't feel and deny the urges that actually drive them.
They look down on that seeking rank... as though they were never that person. Even though that competitive urge was there all along. They don't remember the reasons why they felt that way, and how it resolved itself, or was hidden.
What makes that more seasoned person better than the other?
It is like business - being an unquestioning, non-seeking follower never leads forward.