Warrior Wednesday – Seated Kata

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In Iaido, we do a lot of katas from a seated position. Why? I think my sensei said a lot of our art is based on the what-if-you’re-just-sitting-there-and-someone-decides-to-attack-you idea. Maybe you’re visiting someone you think is a good friend and during tea they try to off you.

It’s not really that far-fetched. One can know someone for years and discover they’re vastly different than they seemed. Many people thought Ted Bundy was a fine gentleman.

Many of the seated kata start and end while seated and may have some standing parts.

In setei, there is Mae, Ushiro, Uke Nagashi, and Tsuke-Ate from seated. Four of the twelve are seated.

In the Omori-Ryu set there is Mae, Migi, Hidari, Ushiro, Yae Gake, Uke Nagashi, Kaeshaku, Tsuke Komi, Tsuki Kage, and Nuki Uchi. There is only Oi Kaze in that set that is performed while standing.

In the Eishin Ryu set, many of the kata are not only seated, but you must move around while seated. These include Yoko Gumo, Tora-no-Issoku, Ina Zuma, Uki Gumo, Yama Oroshi, Iwa Nami, Uroko Gaeshi, Nami Gaeshi, Taki Otoshi, and Makko.

In the Okuden Iai set there are separate seated techniques including: Kasumi, Sune Gakoi, To Zume, To Waki, Shiho Giri, Tana Shita, Ryo Zume, and Tora Bashiri.

Many of these katas have things in common. Several of the names are repeated. Mae is the foundation of the art and several katas are versions of Mae. Migi is Mae if one was facing to the right. Hidari is Mae if facing to the left. Ushiro is Mae if turned totally around. Yae Gake is if you do Mae and miss. Tora Bashiri is basically the seated version of Oi Kaze. Tana Shita is if you have to hide under something like a porch to then spring up and get the target then hide once more.

I have this feeling that many look at our art and because it’s not as fast-paced as some, they don’t see the layers of richness in it. The idea that because there are so many seated kata it must be for someone lazy. In truth, Iaido is harder than other martial arts in a lot of ways because it takes endurance. It also takes a lot of patience and dedication because the slightest mistake in angles could mean missing the target completely.

Now, you may have noticed several kata have the same names. They aren’t exactly the same though. Subtle differences in angles and positions tell a differed

Life seems to be trying to kick this modern day warrior while she’s down. My phone fell and the screen is slightly cracked despite that it’s made of Gorilla Glass and it practically jumped out of my purse while I dug for my keys. Its cover flipped open. It was such a fluke. Of course, this is the day after I’m approved to do deliveries, which I need my phone for.

Anyway, I’m continuing the fight. I sat with another recruiter today who found me, so time will tell on whether or not that turns into anything. I’m hopeful amazing things will start happening soon, but I’m not sitting around and waiting for them. I’ve put out probably close to a hundred applications and have gotten one interview scheduled. It only takes one though.

That’s a new philosophy I’m adopting. I read about an author who aimed for 100 rejections a year. It seems odd, but if you expect the rejection, it stings far less. You can remain somewhat detached from the outcome and just focus on doing a good job. And the most important part is that you continually create. Because you do more than someone aiming for perfection, you achieve more.

I always have the choice to sit and wallow in misery or to dust myself off and try again. I bought a screen protector to try and prevent the small crack from getting worse. Tomorrow I have a mock interview booked. I choose to keep trying to get where I want to be. Off I go to make my first deliveries tonight. Am I in the most ideal mood I could be in? Nope. But I’m sure that will improve in no time. And as I was typing this, the woman who helped me finish signing up the other day called me to see if I needed any help and my mood has already improved.

R~

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Warrior Wednesday – Flow

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We practiced Oku Iai the other day. The seated Oku set.

I love both the seated and standing Oku sets because they are the most artistic and free flowing. There’s no constant stopping, just beautifully dangerous sword work.

Well, if you can do it right.

It takes a long time to get there. I know I’m not there yet.

So mine still looks pretty jerky because beginners are taught to pause in a lot of places.

I sit down differently than in this video because women can grab the left opening on our pants and do a curtsy-like motion instead. I really like that.

Indeed, I have other work to do too. My left quad is not as strong as it needs to be in order to sit properly in tatehiza and my right is not strong enough to let me get up quickly enough.

There is always something to continue to work on with this art.

I see many squats and lunges in my future.

And that’s how life’s river flows today.
R~

Warrior Wednesday – Love

Love is a complicated thing that often seems as though it should be far simpler.

Tonight, I saw a play whose main theme was love. It’s called Little Boxes and it’s playing at Arts Court as part of The Undercurrents Festival. We were fortunate to see the actors afterwards and learn about the writing of it.

For me, it was cathartic. The play features a co-dependent and abusive relationship. I’m glad I read about it before I saw it because there were some parts that hit a little close to home.

So why was it cathartic? Well, in my teen years, I was a theatre kid. In fact, I was working as stage crew in my spare time when I wasn’t acting or crewing a school production. I even did summer theatre. Then it wasn’t long before I stopped doing theatre altogether and busied myself with a boyfriend who later became my husband.

Yesterday was the fourth anniversary of my divorce. Sitting in that theatre tonight, I realized just how much I’ve missed it. I also realized that I’ve come full circle and am finally living the life I was always meant to live.

I’m looking forward to my short play being performed later this year. I’m excited to see what happens with my longer play as well.

I’m enjoying writing my film and have a couple of leads on where to send it when it’s done.

I also got over my fear of The Rideau Centre tonight!

This weekend, I’m off to visit friends and train hard at a 2-day iaido seminar. I’m really looking forward to it and it’s reading week when I return.

I’m feeling pretty blessed right now ❤

And that’s how life’s river flows today.

R~

Warrior Wednesday – Progress with Standing Oku Iai

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I wasn’t feeling like going to practice last night at all. It’s winter. Home has comfy pants and Netflix. Outside has cold air that hurts my face.

I’m really glad I sucked it up and went. Practice was great last night! I’m not sure Sempai would agree as he had to keep getting us back on task, but we worked on Standing Oku Iai kata while having fun conversations of the type I’m used to in school with the comedy group.

Some things finally clicked for whatever reason. I knew some of it was advice I had heard before, but I guess my mind couldn’t apply it or see the scenarios clearly before. Specifically, Shinobu (shh-no-boo) and Sodome (sew-doh-may) are feeling better. I think part of it was having so many higher ranked people there to watch.

For Shinobu, I finally get what I’ve been doing wrong. I was close before, but it was like having a word on the tip of your tongue yet feeling the word is one you haven’t learned yet. For some reason, it wasn’t clicking where my opponent’s sword tip would be and therefore I couldn’t get where their body would be. Of course, their tip will be where I tapped with my blade! I feel like such an idiot on that one.

For Sodome, I was having trouble putting my hip into things. We do the stairs scenario at my dojo. I had been told how to do it before, but I couldn’t understand it really. This will sound very strange, but it’s almost a hanmi (han-mee – kind of sideways) stance and we bring the end of sword handle to the side of our right butt cheek. Basically. Usually when we get our hips into things, it’s more of a forward facing stance and more like a pelvic thrust. Since we’re going down stairs, it’s very strange to act out on flat ground.

Maybe soon I’ll remember all the kata names in that set and how to do them without help.

My bicep is sore today. It shouldn’t be. I tensed too much last night and my sword wasn’t making noise most of the time because I was using the wrong muscles. One step forward and two steps back.

And that’s how it flows today.
R~

Warrior Wednesday – A Rough Start

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The last couple of days have been rough. I’ve had two in a row that I had to be at school earlier and I got up extra early to ensure I actually caught a bus that would get me to school on time. My options are go really early or be late because the bus that would get me there at a reasonable time seems to always fall into a black hole somewhere along the route…

The weather has been really cold. Today was quite a bit warmer, but it was the kind of cold that makes me achy in places like my ankles, especially the one I injured doing roller derby 4 years ago. The walk to the bus stop was more of a limp.

It’s also the time of year where the heat makes my dry eyes drier, so they feel rather like rubber balls and it’s really uncomfortable. It makes me hate screens.

We haven’t had our first Iaido practice of 2018 yet because people were still on holiday and I wasn’t feeling well anyway. Hopefully Sunday will be better. I always enjoy the first practice of the year as we do some special kata to open the dojo. I don’t remember what they’re called, but we clear the dojo of bad energy and it’s really cool.

I’m tired and grumpy, but I have too much to do instead of napping. There’s an assignment due tomorrow, which I’m done. My video group will hopefully be starting and finishing our term project tomorrow also. It’s not as if we haven’t tried several times to get it done sooner. Between scheduling and equipment malfunctions, we’re learning the hard way why casting calls are the way they are. You better shoot video every day you can. On Saturday, we have to hand in the first 10 pages of our feature films, but that’s after we get group member feedback. We also have to hand in our completed TV episode for a currently running show. I chose South Park for mine and it’s really fun to write.  I would love to work on a show like that.

Next week is our last week of semester one. We have an exam on Canadian film history on Tuesday and everything outstanding has to be handed in before the 12th. Thursday’s final video production class is supposed to be watching the films we made.

And that’s the flow today,
R~

Warrior Wednesday – 2017 Fall Grading Weekend

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Grading felt different this year. I felt confident and ready. At several times during the day, I got a little nervous, but I was able to calm myself down. I was also able to force myself to be present rather than imagining frightful scenarios.

During the seminar portion, I merely listened to the tips being given to others. Specifically, I listened for things like how they preferred we treat the tape line. They wanted us to keep ourselves behind the line during etiquette and have our sword on the other side of the line as we bowed to it. They also wanted us to look at the sword when we bowed to it. Placement wise, I always try to practice in a way that keeps my knees behind the line. I hadn’t heard of the other bit about looking at my sword before though.

I received a message from someone earlier in the day that had me in a bit of a mood, but I was able to get myself to focus and channel my emotions into an intensity once I stepped onto the grading floor. I told myself I needed to be present and I could think about other things after.

The hardest part was all of the waiting. We were graded in groups of 3. With 17 of us challenging 2nd Dan, it took a while. There was a side section we milled about in while the 1st Kyu and 1st Dan challengers graded. Then they gradually brought us out to line up behind the chair we would eventually sit on. There was a lot of standing with our sheathed swords in hand. We were allowed to hold it comfortably rather than formally up until we reached the chair. Every time the line moved closer to the chairs, my heart raced. I told it to calm down because we weren’t really under attack.

Another aspect to the waiting is that it was very warm in there and my palm was sweating as I tried to used my sword. The floor was also stickier than normal, which did trip some people up.

Last year while in the line, I allowed my mind to wander. This year I practiced stoicism to detach myself some from the hoped for results and focus only on the present.

Now, the chair is quite an uncomfortable place to be. You’re sitting, but you have to be very upright and your back cannot touch the back of the chair. You have to hold your sword a specific way, which was extra challenging as the chairs had arms on them. And you have someone else doing their grading in front of you. I try not to watch the person in front, but instead look above them at the wall because sometimes you see someone messing up or you see someone doing a different style and think they’re messing up and then it’s easy to psych yourself out.

My friends told me I looked like a fierce warrior this year. I was skeptical. I had started a touch early and I briefly second-guessed whether or not my sword tip was in the exact right location after o-chiburi on sanpo giri. I also learned later that I’m still having some trouble blending two sets together. It felt much better than last year’s attempt though.

It WAS better than last year. I was given a pass and now I have at least two years of hard work ahead of me to prepare for the next one. I wanted to get started right away, but I have school things over the next couple of weeks that make that difficult.

I felt bad for a few people. One lady messed up worse than I did last year. She had the USB problem with her sword where it wouldn’t go into the sheath, so she tried to turn the sheath over to see if it was the wrong way. That didn’t work and she tried the first way again. When we have problems like that, we’re supposed to stay calm and start that piece at the end of the kata over. She was trying to jam it into the sheath in a way that could lead to serious injury with a sharp sword some day. Some of the cringes on the faces of those watching brought a sick feeling to my tummy. I also felt really bad because I knew it was probably just nerves getting to her as they did to me the previous year. Then she restarted that first kata instead of going onto the next one. She wasn’t the only one that had sheath issues, but at least one of the others overcame their problem with grace.

Weird things happen when people get nervous. They forget whole katas or mix up the order of them. Their confidence deflates and they look like they are surrendering.

Only a couple of my friends didn’t succeed this year. Hopefully they can learn whatever they need to in order to make it happen the next time.

There is always more to learn in this art and it’s easy to get too caught up in the rank. I think the most important thing is whether or not this is something you love to do. I know I do. This weekend made me love it even more.

I took a lot of video during the tournament the next day as I was working on some homework while watching others compete. I focused on taking video of people who do my art in ways I like, so I can learn from them.

I also got some video of the only 9th Dan female who happens to also be the first non-Japanese person to be awarded the rank: Pam Parker Sensei from the U.S. I have no idea if I will ever get close to 9th Dan, but she was fantastic to watch. I don’t think she ever made even one mistake.

I have my grading on video and I’m hoping to have time soon to join the two file halves together and put it up somewhere. I might even have last year’s fail video, which could be interesting to see the difference.

Anyway, I could probably go on about iaido all day, but school awaits.

Guid cheerio the nou,
R~

Merry Monday – A Full Weekend

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So much happened since Friday that it’s hard to know where to start.

My close female friends and I traveled to Etobicoke on Friday. We went out to the bar near our hotel and got to have food and drinks with several of the Canadian senseis.

Two of us challenged ni dan level, that is 2nd level black. We were successful! We’ll next be eligible for grading in 2 years. I’m in no rush. There were some mistakes I made that I’ll talk about more later in the week.

Most of my other friends passed too. There were a couple of fails. I know how that feels having been there last year. The options for dealing with it are pretty much keep training and working hard or quit. It’s hard to learn to move passed it and get back onto the floor. I think my feelings about it were worse than any my sensei could have thrown at me. Sometimes you just aren’t ready for something in life and it’s nothing to get bent out of shape about. If you care about something, you learn to just go with the flow.

The worst part of grading is waiting to grade. I just wanted to get to the drinking part that happens after. I didn’t drink much the night before as I didn’t want to feel like crap despite senseis joking that grading hungover is traditional.

There was much celebration after which including a key lime sake collins that my friend brought. Our room turned into the party room for a bit. There was also some political stuff going on that didn’t involve me. I was thankful I could just drink and give out hugs as my week had its own drama I had just got passed.

I didn’t do as much homework as I intended on the second day as I got into taking video of higher level people doing their kata. I did solidify what my movie’s theme is and I think I’ll talk about that tomorrow though I’m in Star Wars mode and just want to marathon them before the next episode comes out.

Anyway, time for class.

Guid cheerio the nou,
R~