The Role of Sempai

People are very interested in things that are exotic or new. In a study about discrimination, babies will look at people of a different ethnicity than the ethnicity of the babies’ primary care givers longer than people of the same ethnicity. There is something attractive about the new and different.

When new people come to the dojo, they are very curious about training and Iaido. It is important for senior students, sempai, to help the new people become comfortable and at ease. Any rules or safety protocols should be taught by the sempai to the new students to help the new students know what to do and what not to do. If the sempai does not, the sensei will think the sempai doesn’t know, and thinks the student is not ready to become a role model.

We must constantly train to make sure we are creating harmony. That is the way. Keep training.

One Piece of Rice Paper

Instant gratification permeates all aspects of our culture, but that is not the way of the dojo and training. When we are given time to train on our worst technique, that’s what we should do. It is singular focus. Last week I posed this approach to my students and I received varying responses. One learner ran through Inyoshintai, and then followed with Ryuto, another worked on Shohato, one worked on three techniques repeating them 1, 2, 3 again and again, and another learner still ran through several techniques. Only one managed to follow instruction. Technique is singular, and to work on one technique for the time given follows the wisdom: “I do not fear the man who has practiced 10,000 techniques, but the man who has practiced one technique 10,000 times.” Keep training!

Using the Arc

A Japanese sword is designed to slice. An ax is designed to chop. The mass and balance of a sword is designed to slice at the tip, instead of chopping near the hands. Since this is the case, a sword’s tip should move along the greatest arc from a center point. By applying the principles of math, the longer the radius of a circle, the longer the arc. If the sword takes the same amount of time to travel a greater distance, greater radius=greater circumference, then the sword is moving faster with the greater distance.

A swordsman contributes his mass to the mass of the sword to increase the penetration of the cut. The strongest part of a human’s body is the hips and center, which means if we integrate our center into the cut, we are able have greater penetration and a larger radius. By cutting from our centers we employ both of these principles to create a more powerful cut. Keep training!