Just a Cut – Done Almost Right
On New Year's Eve I was training with Mr. Busan and a few other students of the San Diego Budōkai, and their guest, Mr. Peter Leveque of the Oregon Kenjutsukai. Nice, quiet, class...we didn't do anything spectacular, just worked on the basics one last time, in order to close out our Year of Kihon properly.
So, there I was, going back and forth across the mat with Mr. Busan, practicing kiri-gaeshi, the most fundamental exercise of the Tenshin-ryū. Back and forth, back and forth, "tock tock, tock tock"."Tock tock, tock tock?"
Suddenly, with some amazement, I noted that the kissaki of our bokken were slamming together on each cut. This wasn't just a glancing blow, as is common when students loose proper maai; it was a good, solid, contact and the alignment was so precise that the bokken stopped instead of glancing off each other. . . . Considering the size and shape of the kissaki, for this to happen consistently could not be an accident.It was impressive enough to distract me, which is very hard to do when I'm practicing ken. And, of course, when I started thinking about the weapon instead of the target, the sounds stopped and, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't make clean contact.
So, back to focusing on the target and forgetting the sword, and there it was again, "tock tock, tock tock."I thought about that a lot after class.
A year ago, both of us had good cuts. Then we spent an entire year working on basics. Now it appears that we both have very, very, good cuts.A year of work, just to be able to clash kissaki in kiri-gaeshi? It may seem like a lot of trouble for something so inconsequential, but isn't that what budō is all about?
Anyone can learn a technique well enough to make it work; the student of budō, however, is after perfection. This is something that the average person doesn't understand. It's something that the average person may never understand. But, as the Tao Te Ching so elegantly states. "When the enlightened person hears of The Way, he accepts it completely. When the superior person hears of The Way, he follows it for awhile. When the average person hears of The Way, he laughs.Without the laughter, it would not be The Way."
Our cuts are not perfect yet, but they're a lot better than they were a year ago, and I think both Mr. Busan and I can say, with honesty, that we're finally doing at least one white-belt exercise almost right.
. . Seems like a good start to a new year. – Fredrick J. Lovret