August 7, 2011

Turn 40. Train. Get a sword.

So, I turned 40. I taught and I trained. Afterward, we had tacos and margaritas. But this time the birthday sombrero came out. I got to wear it and it's pretty awesome - very throw-downable-and-dance-around. After a couple drinks, I came close.

Over that weekend, I taught and trained again and the boys got me a sword. It's a really nice sword - hand crafted and detailed by our own Bryan M. It's got a naked-lady-geisha tsuba, a live, custom 'ninja-to' length, a hand-carved handle, and even represents the colors of our dojo - black, orange, blue, and stuff. Oh, and this is pretty cool ...

We had fun training. We always seem to. I like to think it's because we're in tune with what we need to be in tune with, letting everything else come up when needed, when necessary. And that's the rub, ain't it? Knowing what is necessary, illuminates what is not.

If one sets themself on the path of Budo, Taijutsu is necessary; it recreates the kukan as shield, one that protects yourself, others, and all others, even the enemy. That's a hard one, isn't it? In fact, it's the hardest one. Taijutsu, when done right, is life-protecting-respecting-sustaining. In this regard, Taijutsu is an ethical imperative for warriors, and we just can't do it right, unless we do it in a moral way. This begs the question: How do we know what is moral?

But that's the great thing about priorities, they allow us to discern here from there, this from that, now from then, and ultimately, right from wrong. Without a qualifier, all things are even, all things are equal, all things are relative. When there is no one thing that is special to us, that is sacred, ideal, then all things are given chance to jockey to be such. And it gets confusing.

If one equivocates martial arts with the art of martial Taijutsu, then mastering that Okuden level Gyokko Ryu kata (you know, the one where you twist, and grab the guy) becomes just as important as the awareness to judge when we should use our abilities and how to apply them reasonably and responsibly under given circumstances. And where does it end? Answer: It doesn't.

You see, it can't - if everything is a priority (because nothing is) then every kata is just as important as every other one, every detail of all the minutiae of our collective lineage and history must be first swallowed whole and memorized: You can't just have a piece of cake, you must eat the entire cake for that's the only way to understand that it's chocolate. (But don't I only need one piece - in fact, one bite - to know if it's any good? In other words, if it's worth eating?)

We humans are not meant to roam compass-less for the same reason cell phones burn out earlier when constantly trying to locate a signal - our own human nature will defy us. If what we tell it to do is in reality innately unreasonable, we lessen ourselves, are weakened, easily confounded, and on the path to disillusionment by our lack of direction, our lack of priority.

If one sets themself on the path of Budo, one must know the right from the wrong. Otherwise, we can't use Taijutsu. Hatsumi sensei has said as much and written about it many times. Taijutsu is not difficult, only made so by our perception of it. If you wish to do it well, just remember three things: whenever you move, protect yourself, protect everyone around you, and also protect your opponent, if possible, all at the same time. That's it.

Shidoshi Joe Bunales giving Charlie Harrison what for.
After training, we hit the bar, had a drink, and shared some laughs.

I'm pretty certain, it was the safest bar in town.


Anonymous said...

Powerful, another great write-up. Congrats on hitting the big 4-0!

Raven said...

Congratulations on the birthday, and I love the dojo logo on the habaki -- that's awesome!

Bryan said...

Congratulations Sensei:

As Joe had put it, we're proud to train with you, and we're all grateful for what you've helped show us.