Friday, February 23, 2018

What I Learned In Katsuura II

What did I learn while I was away?

Well, the power of conscious choosing, as I posted about here.  And that was a pretty important concept.  But, fortunately, there is more.

1) The Power of Schedule:  This is something that our Soke pointed out to us.  During our time there - however long it might have been - we kept to a strict schedule.  We rose at 0400, trained from 0500-0700, ate breakfast at 0700, trained from 0900-1200, ate lunch at 1200, trained from 1400-1630/1700, showered at 1630/1700, ate dinner at 1800, and were typically in bed by 2000. 

The upshot of all of this?  We had a schedule that we did not have to think about.  We knew where we needed to be and what we needed to be doing and thus were free from the tyranny of wondering "what should I do next", allowing us to focus on the reason we were there.  Schedules, I learned, can be very feeing.

2)  The Power of Others:  Practicing in my small dojo in the middle of the country (well, lower middle really) one tends to feel that we are an island.  How refreshing to meet individuals from many different countries and realize that I am not just practicing a 427 year old art, I am doing it in the midst of a family all over the world of like minded individuals.  Family, I learned, can be very empowering.

3)  The Power of Flow:  When we do kata or waza, they are in forms that are separate - but in training, we began to link them together, moving from one to the next.  All of a sudden, one finds flow - and flow makes sense of things that are individually separated.  Things come together and one learns how to transition from one cut or block to the next smoothly - and eventually, without thinking about it.  Flow, I learned, can allow a series of separated actions to make sense.

4) The Power of Being Away:  Being outside of one's country - and especially conscious removed from media - one comes to understand that 95% of the things that dominate the news cycle in one's home country is seldom as important to the rest of the world as it seems at home - for perspective, the US population is approximately 4% of the world's 7 billion.  Most things that we are told we should care about are simply not as important out there in the rest of the world.  Being away, I learned, gives one a greater perspective on one's own home.

It was a meaningful trip  and I got much of what I hoped out of it beyond technique and correction.  I am looking forward to returning again.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Back From Japan: Asakusa Temple

Asakusa is a very famous temple in Tokyo, which is known as much for its surrounding shops as for the temple itself.  We went there on our very last day to visit a sword shop for some things we simply cannot get here in the U.S.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Back From Japan: Katsuura

Some pictures from the city we were in:

Cleanest 7-11 EVER:

Parking marked by ropes, not paint:

Katsuura is in a tsunami zone.  The walls to protect against a tsunami were impressive:

To the right is Shinmei Shrine, which I posted on last week:

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Back From Japan: Kakuoji Temple

The third of three temples close to the training center:  Kakuoji.

Another Graveyard:

There is a path that wends up the hill:

With an unknown (and largely uncared for) monument at the top:

Shelf Lichen:

But the view was amazing:

Monday, February 19, 2018

What I Learned In Katsuura I - Conscious Choice

Friends, I have to confess that I have been a little bit lazy, and intentionally so.  Part of posting pictures (and I still have at least 3 rounds to go) is that I have been trying to verbalize what I learned in training.

It is odd.  I have come back a different man from when I left.  The difficulty seems to be that I cannot fully verbalize how I am different.

Oh, I learned more about the art - mostly what I do not know.  I learned that I have a much farther road than I ever dreamed of before I get there.  And I learned that I have chosen to get there.

Which brings us to the first point in my learning:  Conscious Choice.

One thing that I did come back with is the sense of consciously choosing - in this case to go to training and (apparently) continue to pursue the art at higher levels.  It was just a thing that I arrived back in the US with.  I cannot tell you the point at which it happened, just that it did happen.

My life, for the most part, has been a series of unconscious choices.  Most things I have managed to blunder into or start as a lark - for example, Iaijutsu itself (I cannot even remember where I found it online) or cheese making or throwing or the harp (Walking by the music building:  "Learn to play the harp."  Okay...) or a plethora of things that have happened to me.  But just as easily I have chosen things essentially unconsciously at well - The Firm (yes, I consciously chose to do it but unconsciously chose not to consider the consequences) or financial decisions (multiple) or simply the amount of items that currently crowd my house, things I thought I might like to pursue and then decided not to or hobbies tried once and then abandoned.

But when I came back I was possessed by a sense of consciously choosing - initially my art, but extending to more and more aspects of my life.

Randomness has a certain thrill to it, but randomness does not allow one to increase one's skill level or decrease one's clutter in life.  And I am past the point where more activities or more things are going to create the thrill they once did.

The outcome?  I am choosing what I allow into my life and what I choose to practice.  Ultimately it will decrease the amount and number of items there, but I have come to understand that then everything that is in my life is there because I consciously desired it to be in my life, not just because "it sounded like a good idea".

Friday, February 16, 2018

Back From Japan: Tsutokoyamakosho Temple

This is the smaller of the two Buddhist temples near where we trained:

The playscape is a nice modern touch:

Many Buddhist Temples have associated Shinto Shrines:

Japanese graveyards are amazing.  They are very much a sort of miniature necropolis: