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.