Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Keeping your sword sharp

One of the things that samurai in the past focused on, among the many things they were responsible for, was to always have a sharp sword. They knew that in any encounter they had a one in three chance of victory, one in three of being maimed or seriously injured and one in three of death. With those odds they were very careful not to draw their swords frivolously.

 Even so because the stakes were so high they took great pains to keep their swords sharp.  Why would they do this if they rarely drew their weapons?  It was a matter of being mentally and physically ready. The act of sharpening the sword focused the will of the samurai. Then like now violence could visit at any time, and when it does you will not have time to practice the techniques that should be ingrained within your body. You will not have time to polish your defense or work on your fitness.

 Although the art of kendo and kenjutsu still exist today, many of us do not roam the streets with swords strapped to our sides. However for those of us that practice a martial art we do have a sword to keep sharp. It starts(and ends) with our basic techniques, which sadly suffer the most as one advances through the ranks.  It means that those that have a practice must make the time to delve deeper into what they have learned, make and effort to reverse engineer it(bunkai) and truly comprehend what the technique and applications are.

Too many times I have witnessed high ranking students do poorly with some techniques because they have focused on one aspect of their training, neglecting the other aspects. What occurs over time is the creation of a  myopic practitioner  that has dull techniques- a dull sword. We cannot allow ourselves to carry a dull sword, to have techniques or kata we are unsure of because we have not practiced them in a long time.

We must strive to always keep our swords sharp, because if we are ever called upon to use the knowledge we possess to defend ourselves or our loved ones we must possess a weapon with a keen edge sharp enough to make a decisive cut.

strong spirit-strong mind-strong body
Sensei Orlando

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