Saho-A Furuya Sensei repost

originally posted March 31, 2002

More than anything nowadays, we like the break rules, not keep them. Breaking rules expresses our freedom, I suppose – at least, this is how we think nowadays. As a teacher, it only means the student does not understand the purpose of these rules – especially in Aikido and especially in a Dojo. Rules are not to oppress or humiliate, rules are there to create a good sense of harmony among all members and to create a sense of order in which we can study and practice. In Japanese, this is referred to as “etiquette,” or “saho.” “Saho” is made of two kanji characters, one “to make” and the other, “order.” In other words, “to make order.” This order is very important to create a good atmosphere in which to train. We should never forget this.

However, order is not simply “following” or “mimicking” various rules – bowing when you have to bow, saying ‘hai!” when you have to say, “hai!” More than anything this saho is a spiritual practice. Saho is practice of the mind and spirit. If you cannot bow with the proper mental attitude and spirit, it is not a bow, no matter how much you lower your head. It is something you must practice with the proper spirit. It is like someone telling you, “thank you,” although it is obvious that he really doesn’t mean it. You don’t feel that your kindness was appreciated at all, in fact, you may feel badly that you efforts were neglected or unappreciated. This bad feeling is always the cause of dis-harmony.

To show proper spirit in saho is a very difficult part of practice. This is only because we think of ourselves too much and not others. Thinking of others, we learn how to appreciate their efforts, only thinking of ourselves, we never have time to care for others. We become selfish people and this is not Aikido at all. In fact, it is contrary to all Aikido principles.

Practice saho in the Dojo and learn to practice it with the proper mental attitude and spirit – maybe this will be the most difficult of all to learn – more difficult than the hardest throw or pin. Once you master it, then practice it in your daily life.

I once had a student who never said “thank you” for anything. One day I asked him, “Why don’t you ever thank a person when they do something for you?”

He replied, “My mother never taught me how to say ‘thank you.'” (Blaming everything on your poor mother, how sad!)

“How silly” I thought to myself. Later it turned out that he never appreciated anything from anybody, he was much too busy thinking of himself. It is not any pleasure at all to teach someone like this – they would never appreciate it anyways. What a waste of time!

When you know that someone appreciates your efforts – you feel good and warm and you feel like doing more and more for others – this is what we mean by “harmony.” When people think only of themselves, it creates an atmosphere of selfishness. “If he only cares for himself, I might as well think only of myself as well!” What kind of world is this we are creating?

Saho means to create order. Ultimately, we create this order by thinking of others. What is so bad about this? How silly to break the rule of such a wonderful practice!

In all practice, watch your “ma-ai.” We see Aikido as an exercise or sport, this is why we are not conscious of our spacing. We only appreciate this “spacing” because we are practicing a martial art. Please be careful in this!

We do this because this “sports” consciousness permeates our present culture so deeply. We must be careful at all times not to bring this attitude into our practice. This is how martial arts is changing today. . . . How sad!

When someone attacks with katatetori or menuchi, for example, we start talking so busy gossiping away or wait for the blow to make contact – this is sport. As soon as we “sense” his attack, we are already blending with him and moving out of the line of attack – this is martial arts.

After we throw, we pat him on the back or begin yakking away again, this is sports and exercise. After we throw, we try to maintain our spacing and timing and focus our zanshin on the opponent, this is martial arts.

When we come to the Dojo, we chit-chat away in the dressing room so it takes ten minutes to put on the uniform, this is how we act is a sports gym or health club. When we come to the Dojo, we change into our uniform as quickly as possible to get onto the mat to begin warming up, this is the proper attitude in a martial arts dojo.

When we come and go in the Dojo, we always make a proper greeting to the Sensei, this is a martial art. When we come to the Dojo, we always treat the Sensei as a waiter or janitor or clerk, this is a health club or spa.

When we come to the Dojo, we bow with the proper spirit of respect and modesty, this is a true martial arts Dojo. When we come to the Dojo, we are too busy yakking away with others and finding out the latest gossip from our classmates, this how we act is a fancy beauty salon or coffee shop.

Paying Dues and Paying Attention

There are a lot of gyms out there.  I think there are even some martial arts that market themselves as a sort of gym.  A gym is where there are weights and equipment that any member can use as long as that member puts them back.  There are even some gyms that have people to clean the used equipment so that the members don’t have to bother themselves with such a task.  The management of the gym doesn’t care how often its members come or if they are getting more or less fit as long as membership remains high and people pay their fees.  It’s probably better for them the more people they have on automatic withdrawal who don’t show up; then there is less for them to clean!

A dojo is not like this.  It is a “place of the way”.  “The way” is a path of self-development and enlightenment, and it is not bound by a specific location.  The goal is to where every moment is in the dojo.  Many people treat the dojo like a gym.  They want to come in and have idle chit-chat so they can fulfill their social interaction quota, or they want to come in and sweat and get their heart rates up so they can meet their fitness goals.  A dojo is not like this.

Dues in the dojo go to cover the overhead of the space.  The dues cover insurance, air conditioning, the cost of mats, electricity, and the rent/mortgage.  Dues go to supporting the travel and lodging of guest instructors.  They do not go to the lavish lifestyle of Sensei. Furuya Sensei slept in a recliner for the last thirteen years of his life.  He didn’t even have health insurance.  O’Sensei lived in even more meager conditions and his family suffered so that he may pursue Aikido and its development.  Dues are just paid to cover costs.

A dojo requires its members to pay dues, but it also requires them to pay attention.  If the teacher is showing something, the student should copy it exactly the way the teacher shows it.  Timing, spacing, extension, posture, balance,…everything the teacher shows should be copied so that the student may internalize the movement and learn.  The teacher does not come in willy nilly and think, “Hmm, how am I going to fill all the time we have today?”  This is a waste!  No, the teacher is trying to figure out how to get the technique to manifest itself accurately through someone else’s body.  A student of a martial art must be able to see the technique one time and be able to catch it, steal it, copy it, repeat it, and master it.  How many times did a samurai get to see his opponents’ techniques?  Once.  The opponent either died because the samurai’s technique was better (probably because he paid attention to his teacher!), or the opponent killed the samurai.  A dead samurai cannot see anyone’s technique, he is dead!

I remember Furuya Sensei scolding a few students one day because they repeatedly cut the inside of their sayas and continued to train.  He made a rhetorical comment asking them that if their lungs made that sound would they go see doctor.  He wasn’t upset about them cutting their sayas once, anyone can make a mistake, it was the repetition.  The students weren’t paying attention.  The students hung their heads and gave the abashed look, but Sensei didn’t stop there.  He pointed out another student and asked them to watch.  The students watched.  Then Sensei spoke, “Do you see how __________ uses and moves his saya?”  They nodded.  “No one taught him that.  He watched and copied.  He is paying attention to the movement.”

This is the same in Japan.  No one talks in the dojo.  The teacher demonstrates, and the students practice and try to copy.  Please, pay attention when you are training and try to copy the technique exactly as your teacher shows you.  If you don’t, you are disrespecting your teacher and dismissing what is trying to be communicated.  Instead, what is communicated is that you know better and that you don’t need the teacher.  This is very bad.  This behavior does not belong in a dojo.  I am actually not sure where that willful behavior belongs, maybe when trying to lift weights.

Understanding the Teacher-Furuya Sensei repost

originally published February 15, 2002

As strange as it may sound, the old rule of teaching students successfully is, “don’t teach!” In the old traditional Japanese martial arts systems, they used to say, “I don’t teach you my art, you have to ‘steal’ it from me.” Nowadays, as martial arts become more of a business, we go by the oft-used adage, “the customer is always right!”

Many years ago, I had a student who I desperately thought could do very good in Aikido and I really tried to teach him well. In everything, I corrected even the tiniest mistake but the final result was that he resented me. He interpreted my efforts to teach him well as harrassement only thinking that I was picking on him. I guess, more important than learning the art, was his own pride.

Often, when I am teaching, I have no qualms of correcting my students if it is wrong. I am sure this is not “good business” practice, but how will they ever learn it right?

One of the most important aspects of teaching and learning is sincerity, commitment and trust. Without it, no real teaching can take place. “Why?” you may ask. It is because in teaching, we are dealing with very long term results and the teacher must really continually consider the future growth of the student. It is not simply to entertain him or occupy his time for the present class or in the present moment. I constantly must think of how will what I teach the student today benefit him tomorrow and the day after and the day after and help him to grow and become stronger and more skillfull.

With immediate results, it is easy for the student to judge. If I push you and you fall down. Immediately, you can say, “You hurt me!” If I push you down and you realize that you were pushed out of the way of a car or out of a dangerous situation, you can judge that the push was for your own benefit and you say, “Thank you so much!”

When the result is not immediately seen, even though I am pushing you ahead further and further, without this trust, some just say, “Oh, this is no good.” When you can truly trust your teacher, you don’t mind him pushing you because you have faith that he is pushing you always in the right direction. We are much too concerned with “instant gratification” and immediate results so we always jump to conclusions much too quickly. We can’t even tell when someone is hurting us or really doing us a big favor!

Even the Buddha had difficulty in teaching people. In the Lotus Sutra, there is a parable of the burning house in which he teaches us, “hoben.” This means “skillfull means” and even a “lie” is useful if it can be used effectively to teach the student. I think it is important to always be honest with the student so I hope he doesn’t mind that I correct him honestly. I know it hurts, I don’t like it myself! Who likes to be told that this is wrong and that is wrong? Yet, with trust and committment, something like this can take place and something wonderful happens…

Some people call this the “mother’s heart” or “heart of the parent.” The mother will scold her child very severely not to do this or don’t do that. But the mother scolds the child because she loves the child, not because she wants to be mean. In many ways, the teacher must be like a parent who will scold the child for his benefit even if the child misunderstands and resents him. The teacher must have the heart to sacrifice himself for the sake of the student. Is it all worth it? Yes! But only a teacher can understand and appreciate this, never the student himself. Please try to understand your teacher!

Fantasy and Reality

Movies are so wonderful.  They provide us with an opportunity to indulge our imaginations and see what may be possible in reality.  They are not reality, though.  It is common for me to see people hold a sword or bokken and they are busy playing out a fantasy in their minds.  I suppose this type of catharsis is important so that we don’t look for opportunities in society to live out these fantasies; that would be terrible, but on the mats or training halls of dojos, there is no place for these types of fantasies.  To learn how to really use a sword, one must train in reality and focus on the sword’s movement, one’s partner, spacing and timing, balance, and relaxation.

I was watching a video on a traditional Ni Ten Ryu School.  The video was in Japanese, so, sadly, I didn’t understand anything that was being said.  This is a great tragedy in my life, that I haven’t studied the languages of my greatest passions.  It did make me focus on what was being shown and the movements of the techniques.  The one benefit of not knowing the language is that my mind is not cluttered with trying to process both visual and auditory information that may not connect.  They school’s headmaster produced, what I assumed was, a very old bokken with kanji carved in it.  I believed it must relate to the legitimacy or transmission of the art.

The piece that was an echo of Furuya Sensei was that when they demonstrated the partner techniques, there was an initial strike and then the decisive counter move.  One, two, or three movements was all it took, and that’s reality.  A committed attack that would be effective in dispatching an enemy will either be successful or it won’t.  In the event that it is not successful, there has been a counter move that has rendered it ineffective and thus the result is an attacker’s end.  There aren’t long exchanges of sword clashes that go on with a crescendoing soundtrack.  Instead, there is an opening or there isn’t.  When there is an opening there is an attack, and since the counter to an ineffective attack is a counter attack, the stakes for effective attacks are much higher than those in a fantasy, or movie.

We must train the effective attack through thousands of suburi.

If an engagement is more than three movements, both participants are ineffective, not masters.  A true master would not even be in the fight, he would probably not even be watching the fantasy of fools.


Compromise in Training-A Furuya Sensei Repost

originally posted January 1, 2003

Yesterday, the day before New Year’s, I went with my student to have a new saya made for his sword. I was sitting there talking with my friend who has been making saya for the last 30 years now. He was looking at my student’s sword and recognized his work, both the old saya and the tsuka or handle.

Looking at the handle, he said, I don’t do this kind of work anymore.

Surprised, I said, What do you mean? I remember how long it took for him to catch the gentle center taper of the handle.

He replied,Nowadays, all the Iaido guys who do tameshigiri are complaining that the handle breaks too easily so I make it thicker and straighter now.

I had to laugh to myself and suddenly realized that there is NO compromise in the way sword must be taught. As I teach my students over and over and over again, most people put too much power in the arms and hands and the power is never projected to the monouchi or upper, cutting portion of the blade. My students are always frustrated to catch this point. When I heard my friends comment, I realized that these people are not cutting properly so all of the impact of the blade is focused in the hands, not the blade itself. This is what causes the handle to crack and break so easily. If you cut properly, the handle will never break. In addition, this tapered style of handle was popular in the late 16th century at a time of fierce battles and proved itself over and over again as the superior grip.

There is no way to compromise sword training. It is either right or wrong. It is black and white. I think this was a sign from my long gone teachers and it came right at the last day of the year at a time when I was most discouraged! It must be a sing I think! I will continued as I have before in my teaching, whether it is outdated or not, in or out, popular or hated, accepted or not accepted. It was good enough for me teachers, and still good enoug for me, I don’t know why it is not good enough for people today. I teach to pass on the teachings of my teachers and hopefully preserve this art for your generation, I do not teach to gather numbers of students, be popular, or personally profit from it or enhance my personal image. Whether students want to learn for me or not, is purely their choice, not mine, and I should not be crass or greedy enough to try to sway or attract them to me. As long I can focus on this, I will be fine. . . .

Reflection on Furuya Sensei’s Posts

I have kept my opinion and perspective out of Furuya Sensei’s posts purposefully.  I have edited some of the misspelled words due to his frantic typing as opposed to his lack of skill, and I have edited out some unrelated responses to people who wrote to him and to whom he addressed specifically.

There are some reoccurring messages.  One of these is that many who practice swordsmanship today really have no idea how to use or experience with using a sword.  Much of the swordsmanship we see today is colored by still images of famous martial artists, or is changed from what it was.  The U.S. occupation of Japan at the end of WWII is partly responsible for this as many of the martial arts had to go in front of an approval board that removed pieces of the training that were too martial or instilled the spirit of sacrifice that made the Japanese such a formidable enemy.  The Kendo that emerged from that time was very different from the Kendo that predates WWII.

More than the U.S. occupation and its influence on the process of teaching and the techniques taught, was the Meiji Restoration and its employment of a conscript army that received little, if any, training with sword.  Western military strategies and weapons after the Tokugawa isolation and the subsequent dissolution of the samurai class pushed many remaining samurai to sell their swords, move to isolated areas of Japan, or, in some cases, sadly and honorably, end their lives.

Further, still, was the influence of the Tokugawa hegemony itself.  At the end of the warring states period, the relative 268 years of peace that followed transitioned the samurai out of their roles as warriors and into bureaucratic roles where wearing a sword was the extent of their swordsmanship.  Training with a sword became a duty as opposed to a necessity.

The last time swords were used as an element of combat on a large scale was over 400 years ago.  Of course, the Tokugawa Period allowed the best swordsman to refine and develop the practical techniques from their days on the field and develop and test their ryu against other ryu through sponsored tournaments and back alley duels.  Swordsmanship goes through an incredible refinement, but the number of people using swords begins a steady decline as well.  History happens, and aside from very few who seek to learn the art and preserve it, exactly as it was taught to them, swordsmanship is lost.

This is the core of Furuya Sensei’s first message.  When we find a teacher who knows swordsmanship, we must copy and remember every single element.  It is our duty as students to guarantee the transmission of the art exactly as it is was given to us.  We must train and practice and keep every lesson unique.  If we have multiple teachers over the course of our lifetimes, we must keep each lesson and technique from each of those teachers distinct from the lessons and techniques of our other teachers.  Most importantly, if we become teachers ourselves, we must resist the urge of the ego to create and teach anything other than the exact techniques and methodologies passed down to us from our teachers until we have guaranteed the complete and accurate transmission of techniques and methodologies.  If we fail, or stray from this path, Furuya Sensei’s fear will be realized and those who practice swordsmanship will just be pretending and role-playing their fantasies and will really have no idea how or ability to use a sword.

Practice-Furuya Sensei repost

originally published as part of a post on December 27, 2002

IAIDO – OVER  OVER OVER AGAIN: Last Evening’s Talk In Iaido Class: More and more, I feel that it is necessary to give you more time for individual training. From my observations, you need more time to practice and less instruction, actually, you have heard over and over all the instruction that you need – you just haven’t had time to swallow and digest what you have. It is like eating and keeping all the food in your mouth!

When you do have this opportunity for individual practice, take one basic and practice it over and over – who cares if you are doing the same thing for an hour – you need it. Each class, a little of this and a little of that will no longer do you any good. You are only doomed to repeat the same mistakes over and over again. Work with something such as your suburi or chiburi or noto, until you really begin to feel comfortable with it, until you become one with it. If you practice suburi over and over, you will begin to feel some kind of transformation through deeper understanding.

Becoming bored and distracted, only means that your mind is not focused and balanced. Like watching television, the bored mind needs all kinds of different stimuli to keep it occupied. This is like baby-sitting – trying to keep a little child distracted so he won’t get into trouble – this is not the learning process at all. Please do not make this mistake!

As you repeat the same exercise over and over, you will also develop a stronger sense of focus and concentration so essential to good Iaido. When you are finally beginning to gain a deeper understanding of what you SHOULD know, then we can go on to the next level. . . . .

Just do not baby-sit yourself, you must awaken to the fact that this is not a learning process. Learning is much more profound and deeper. . . . . something much different than what we are doing most of the time. Please keep up your training.

A Complete Fool-Furuya Sensei repost

originally posted December 20, 2002

In Class Briefly: Last evening, I had this talk with my Iaido students: We must not limit our Iaido to mechanical movements, but be mentally, emotionally and spiritually active on our practice as well.

Not only in the technique itself, but in how you move, walk, talk, think, see, hear, in everything, you express your art. In counting off to do our beginning exercise, by the delayed and lackadaisical manner in which everyone sounded, it is easy to tell that no one has their heart in it. WSe are being so mechanical and so not there. Just by counting, one, two! we are not even paying attention, how can you expect to draw a sword? Just because your body is there standing on the mat, does not mean you are practicing. You must be here, in the moment, physciall and mentally, 100% – it is only in this manner can we get a glimpse of what training really means.

Perhaps, in everything we do in our lives, we pass through in a dream-like state, half here and half somewhere else. Maybe we can get away with it and some are actually very good at it, but, in Iaido, it does work at all. From ancient times, we say, the sword is like a mirror. It reflects everything you do and your mental state as well. In Iaido, there is no place to hide, there is no one to fool, the sword reveals everything. From this perspective, one great sword master said, the sword is merciless.

Although we are so busy during this time of year, please keep up your training as much as possible! You are the only one who loses. Even though we are busy, we still brush our teeth and take a bath each day. We do this because it is a part of the quality of our lives. We take care of our bodies each day, it is reasonable we take care of our minds and spirits as well. This too is the meaning of training.

To practice one hour, one gains one hour of practice. Miss one hour of practice, means to lose 5 hours of practice. In training the body, we always gain, in training the mind, we always lose.

Mean Sensei Again: Some people came to watch Iaido the other day and at the end of class, one comment to me was, Iaido involves a lot of concentration, doesn’t it!

I replied, Well, of course, – – it is a martial art! Then everyone laughed.

I think my students were embarrassed at me and laughed because later someone said, Sensei is mean.

Actually, I was quite surprised at what this person said and really didn’t know how to reply to him. I was shocked that he didn’t understand that Iaido involved such a high degree of concentration and focus, so I simply expressed my feeling at the moment. I thought everyone knew that already!

I was not trying to be mean but I am so surprised at the things people say to me. I am sure that he will never return to my Dojo.

It reminds me of something I overheard, that happened many years ago in Little Tokyo. Before the renovation of Little Tokyo with the new Japanese American National Museum, there was a tiny restaurant called, Koharu on the site. I think they served the best Japanese food in the area and we patronized them for years. Not years, decades! Unfortunately, the renovation of the area and construction of the new museum totally eliminated them, instead of preserving them as a part of Little Tokyo. I will never understand this!

The owner, Mrs. Shibata, was an elderly lady but full of fire! One day, sitting at the counter having lunch, one lady customer complained, I think this fish has too many bones in it!

Shibata-san looked at her and without hesitation and in a split second replied, Well, bring me a fish without bones and I will cook it for you!

When this person, asked me this question about having concentration in Iaido, this is what crossed my mind. Iaido without concentration is like a fish without bones! I mused to myself.

Some people thought Shibata-san was a little mean, I suppose. Although she was the nicest person you ever met. Maybe I am mean afterall!

Furuya’s Law: Only a complete fool will answer you totally honestly.

No Emptiness-Furuya Sensei repost

originally posted November 24, 2002

Today, we had an interesting discussion in our Iaido Class. In practice, we work on our techniques and follow a step-by-step process of getting each movement correctly. However, as we progress, we must begin to think about the movement and the “empty spaces” between the movements as well. It is like viewing a Japanese ink painting. The empty spaces of the composition are equally important as the painted in areas. In Iaido technique, the empty spaces are equally important.

In each movement, there is a contrary or contradictory movement which is created simultaneously with each movement. This is the “yin” and “yang” of all movement or we can say the “kyo” and “jitsu” of the technique. In other words, the “reality” and the “falsehood” or “empty space” of the movement. As much as we fill in the actual movements in our normal training, we must also cover the “empty” movements as well. This is what we must begin to consider in our practice.

As we cut and raise the sword above our heads to make the second overhead cut, for example, there is an “interval” or “empty space” in the time in between the first and second cut. How do you “fill” it in? It is this space of “false” or “negative” movement where we are vulnerable and open to attack. It is this “suki” or opening which we must begin to “fill in” in our training.

In Aikido we think about the “out pouring” of our ki energy. Most of us think that this is the way to create power in our techniques against the opponent. There is another aspect of this as well in practice. The outpouring of ki is much like the strong outpouring from water from a spring. This outpouring also creates “no space” where another energy can enter. . . . . It is in this same respect, that we create a strong outpouring of energy that we also create a pose in which there is no opening as well.

In an old Japanese ink painting, we immediately look at the painted in parts and areas of ink. We should look more carefully at the treatment of the “empty” spaces as well – these spaces of “non-painting.” In Aikido and Iaido, we look at the movements but now we see the “non-movement” aspects of each of these techniques. This is not easy to understand – and harder yet to explain! Please continue to practice hard. . . . Good luck!

Furuya’s Law: All movement has its contrary or opposite movement. There is no true form without content. There is no true content without from.

It is often the case, where the teacher must make the art easier to understand. This is not an easy task. It helps greatly, if the student makes himself easy to be taught. Some students are just very difficult to teach. It is not that they have a hard time learning, they are just difficult to teach. It doesn’t make the job easier, please think about this.

When I was very young, I had a very hard time learning Aikido or anything. In concentrated and focused my attention to this and eventually was able to catch on. Whatever technique or strategy you use to learn Aikido, there is nothing more important than just wanting to learn it very, very much.

I can’t stand it when students treat Aikido like a buffet, bouncing here and there, trying a little of this and that. You know, as everyone knows, a buffet never make the best meal – you are only satisfied because you can have quantity but not necessarily quality. What kind of way is this to learn Aikido? I knew a chef who never put salt or pepper on the tables of his guests. He was so proud of his skill in cooking and prepared the best meals he could with the best ingredients he could find, he felt that they would never need it – and he was right! This is the real meal – and this is the real way to enjoy Aikido.

Miyamoto Musashi ate like a poor man and dressed in rags and really didn’t care about it. But his swords were always of the finest qualily – this is how a real warrior acts and thinks. He wrote this as a rule to himself and followed it all of his life.

Please don’t do this yourselves! But in your practice, there should be no compromise of quality. This is the point!

True Swordsmanship-Furuya Sensei repost

originally published on October 25, 2002

What people have the biggest misunderstanding of in this world, I think, is the misconception in regards to: “receiving is not taking,” and “giving is not losing.” I think if we can clear up these two simple issues in our lives and in this world, this existence will become a slightly better place to live in. I truly believe this and think about this every day of my life. Indeed, I think this is what Aikido is trying to tell us.

Today, is sword class in our Dojo so I hope everyone will really try hard to catch the fundamentals. I think students may misunderstand that sword is simply swinging a wooden stick around but it is much, much more than that. If you have the opportunity to closely examine a real samurai sword, you will find that it is truly a magnificently constructed, highly precision work of art of great skill and tradition. I think you will immediately appreciate that this is not a crude or simple weapon to master. Swordsmanship is far different from what you see in the movies. So many students misunderstand that what you see in the samurai chambara movies and actual swordsmanship exist to two completely different worlds. Please do not be mislead by what you see in the movies or you will be greatly disappointed in real training. Finally, swordsmanship is becoming a “performance” art nowadays and this is completely wrong and not true swordsmanship at all. “Posing” and twirling swords like batons is not swordsmanship either. This is only “dance” with swords and this again is something competely different.

In over forty years in the martial arts, I have only encountered a few who I thought really taught true swordsmanship. I can count the numbers on one hand. These teachers did not have many students either so I understand that swordsmanship will never be popular if you try to stick ot its true path. Many years ago, my teacher said to only teach a few and it is not necessary to teach many people the sword. I thought that he meant that I should keep its techniques confidential and not reveal them. But now I understand much better, I now think he meant that it is much too difficult and most people will only misunderstand and criticize what you are doing. If you want to learn sword, you really have to committ yourself to the sword, there is no other way. . . . .