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#112443 - 07/06/04 11:16 PM Japanese Sword Meditation
Zero83 Offline
Newbie

Registered: 03/02/04
Posts: 6
Hi, its been a while since I last posted here. I have not started to practice Iaido yet, and am instead wondering if thier is a type of japanese meditation that I can do with my ninja sword, soley for meditation purposes. Kind of like Tai Chi Sword, but a Japanese version. Can anyone give me any ideas.
Thanks
Zero

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#112444 - 07/07/04 08:32 AM Re: Japanese Sword Meditation
Charles Mahan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/14/04
Posts: 2502
Loc: Denton, Tx, USA
Not that I know of. Some claim that Iai has a relaxing almost meditative aspect, but after 7 years of training I still don't see it. It's hard damn work, frustrating, frequently painful, and requires an extreme amount of attention to exactly what it is your doing. If you want Tai Chi, take Tai Chi. If you want to learn how to fight with a sword, find qualified instruction.

BTW, many Japanese do Tai Chi.

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#112445 - 07/07/04 10:06 AM Re: Japanese Sword Meditation
the504mikey Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 06/19/03
Posts: 790
Loc: Louisiana, United States
[QUOTE]
It's hard damn work, frustrating, frequently painful, and requires an extreme amount of attention to exactly what it is your doing.
[/QUOTE]

Charles,

Have you done much meditating? The snippet I quoted above sounds a lot like meditation to me. Sometimes the effort and concentration associated with zazen for example can be extreme. You may be involved in a more spiritual pursuit than you realize. I think a lot of people want to ascribe some mystical qualities to meditation and spiritual development, when most of it to me seems like ordinary old fashioned hard work.

[IMG]http://www.fightingarts.com/forums/ubb/smile.gif[/IMG]

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#112446 - 07/07/04 10:36 AM Re: Japanese Sword Meditation
Charles Mahan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/14/04
Posts: 2502
Loc: Denton, Tx, USA
Perhaps. But it is a side effect of training, rather than the goal of training. That's an important distinction.

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#112447 - 07/07/04 01:06 PM Re: Japanese Sword Meditation
the504mikey Offline
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Registered: 06/19/03
Posts: 790
Loc: Louisiana, United States
Well, I don't really want to get hung up on semantics, but I think "side effect" is not the best choice of words. Side effect implies something undesirable that happens tangential to your main goal.

I think the ability to foster and maintain intense levels of concentration is not a side effect of training, but rather an important aspect of training that enables us to get where we are going. Rather than a side effect, concentration is a prerequisite.

Simply put, if you don't develop these things, it will not be possible to progress past a certain point in your practice. I think this is why a lot of people practice zazen or some other type of meditation in connection with their iaido or other martial pursuit. You have to develop serious concentration to be able to progress.

As you correctly pointed out, though, you can develop this concentration through practice alone. I guess one advantage to meditation is it might allow you to isolate the mental aspect of training without being distracted by the physical, but I agree that it is not necessary to do that. Every one eventually needs to find his (or her) own path, but in the end the only thing that will get us where we are going is steady, consistent, unglamorous, hard work.

[IMG]http://www.fightingarts.com/forums/ubb/smile.gif[/IMG]

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#112448 - 07/07/04 02:37 PM Re: Japanese Sword Meditation
Anonymous
Unregistered


unglamorous hard work? i didnt think such a thing existed

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#112449 - 07/07/04 07:03 PM Re: Japanese Sword Meditation
laf7773 Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 05/05/04
Posts: 4064
Loc: Limbo
[QUOTE]Originally posted by samurai max:
unglamorous hard work? i didnt think such a thing existed [/QUOTE]


Try joining the navy. No glamor here and it's not easy being away from your family months at a time. You get to see a lot of nice countries though.

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#112450 - 07/08/04 10:20 AM Re: Japanese Sword Meditation
Charles Mahan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/14/04
Posts: 2502
Loc: Denton, Tx, USA
We kind of have an understanding. Iai requires a total focus on your enemy and on your manipulation of your sword and body. That's it. There's nothing more too it. The best way to train to do that is to do it. A lot.

There are no short cuts. No quick fixes. No special weight training. No special stretches. Not even Zen meditation. You just have to do it again and again and again and again and just keep doing it.

This nearly mind numbing attention to the details of a combative situation repeated over and over again makes you better at handling that type of situation. The details can then be applied to other situations. Any other benefits are secondary to training. That doesn't mean they aren't important. And in fact it is the only practical benefit of studying what is truly an obsolete art form. Still it is a side effect of training and not the point of training.

I guess our remaining differences appears to be your assertion that the physical is a distraction from the mental aspects of training. And that's anathema to the way I have been trained in MJER Iaido. The mental is a distraction from the physical reality of combat. There should be a total focus on the physical mechanics of combat.

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#112451 - 07/08/04 12:27 PM Re: Japanese Sword Meditation
the504mikey Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 06/19/03
Posts: 790
Loc: Louisiana, United States
Charles,

Some very good points, and some things for me to think about as far as how they may apply to my own training (in aikijujutsu, for the record).

I have always viewed zazen as a practice through which we could develop concentration skills to take us forward with our training. That said, though, it is said that when we practice zazen enough ANY activity can become zazen for us. With that in mind, why bother with zazen at all? Just totally devote yourself to directly practicing your art. I think there is a lot of merit to this approach, but can't say that I deem my zazen practice valueless. Could the time I spend doing zazen be better spent practicing my chosen art instead? Perhaps. Is it possible to practice zazen at times when practicing my chosen art is not possible? Sure. Does this practice of zazen do anything to further my understanding of my chosen art? Well, in all honesty, probably not. It may help me to develop certain attributes that will improve my practice, but I can't say that my practice alone could not develop those same attributes. I agree that there should be a total focus on the physical aspects of what we are doing-- that's what zen for me is really about. But what better way to develop that focus than through practicing our art? Thanks for giving me some things to think about.

Good luck in your training.

[IMG]http://www.fightingarts.com/forums/ubb/smile.gif[/IMG]

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#112452 - 07/08/04 02:16 PM Re: Japanese Sword Meditation
Charles Mahan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/14/04
Posts: 2502
Loc: Denton, Tx, USA
I think there are some big differences between Iaido and empty hand arts. The margin of error in a weapon art like Iai is zero. There are three possible outcomes of a sword fight. 1) You are killed and he walks away. 2) One of you is killed and the other severely injured. 3) You kill him and walk way. The most likely is number 2. In a fight where two people are trying to kill each other with 30 inch razor blades, there is simply no margin of error.

That's why Iai is so obsessed with detail. Every little thing we do has a very particular purpose. Taken as a whole these little things are what make the difference between which of the 3 outcomes above you end up with.

In addition to the now theoretical confrontation with live blades, iai practice itself allows for very few mistakes. Eventually all iai practitioners will have to switch to a live blade to continue their training beyond a certain point. At that point the consequences of flubbing a nukitsuke or a noto become very severe. Sooner or later you're going to cut yourself. The only real question is how bad it will be. Some have been known to impale their left arm during a tsuki towards an opponent behind them, others have severed thumbs to show for a bad draw. Admittedly the number of these cases is low, but a shinken will cut you to the bone with very little provocation. This reality of everyday training tends to make you a bit obsessive over the details. There is no room in your mind for anythign except what you are doing or you will get cut. It's a very sobering, very focusing reality.

My apologies for being a bit defensive. I was recently told in another thread that Zen was a necessary part of martial arts training. It was rather annoying.

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#112453 - 07/08/04 04:00 PM Re: Japanese Sword Meditation
cxt Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 09/11/03
Posts: 5811
Loc: USA
Charles


Good points about why the weapon arts--specifically katana--are so focused on what seems to be "little things."

Interesting about the "Zen being necessary part of martial arts training."

As you are no doubt aware Zen is somewhat of a "late comer" to Japanese koryu.

Some koryu are Shinto, Taoist, or otther more esotric forms of Buddism, based.

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#112454 - 07/09/04 10:47 AM Re: Japanese Sword Meditation
the504mikey Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 06/19/03
Posts: 790
Loc: Louisiana, United States
Charles,

You didn't seem at all defensive to me. I found your posts on the subject to be both interesting and informative. I learned from reading them.

I can certainly see your point about weapons arts and empty hand arts being totally different as far as intensity of concentration demanded, although I have never had the opportunity to experience this first hand. I guess the closest thing I am familiar with would be close quarters pistol shooting. You would be amazed how many people have shot themselves through the hand attempting to practice this. Then again, given your background, maybe you wouldn't. It's just not hard to do if you are not extremely conscious of your muzzle discipline.

While empty hand combat does carry the possiblity that someone may not make it home alive, sword combat carries the certainty. While I sometimes feel that training empty hand against the knife is very mentally demanding, we don't do this with a live blade. In the end, it only demands as much attention as we are willing to give it, as a rubber knife in the belly is not the end of the world. It's not at all like working with tools where one momentary lapse of concentration can leave you maimed for life.

At any rate, thank you for taking the time to share some of your information with me. It's people like you who make it worth wading through the trolls to get the occasional nugget worth filing away for my own benefit.

Take care.

[IMG]http://www.fightingarts.com/forums/ubb/smile.gif[/IMG]

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