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.