This past Tuesday was an interesting class studying aspects from Gyokko ryu, aspects which I was fortunate to learn in 1995- the year being important in the context of this lesson.
At the time when these movements were introduced to me they were very important- I spent a good amount of time (shu) drilling them over and over again making sure I didn't deviate on step from the form.
Over the years in practicing, I can close my eyes and see those first times they were introduced to me.
Last Tuesday we again explores some of these forms, and for me personally everything was off. I did them well, they looked good, but my distance and timing didn't quite match my teacher's movement.
Something was a bit out of sync.
The entire class was like this for me.
Now, sometimes in training you just have a bad class. It could be the events of the day before training have you down a bit, it could be physically related in terms of being tired or hurt. You do the best you can, but sometimes success in class is just making it to the end no matter how poorly you are moving.
Certainly lessons and expression in Fudoshin from this.
But for this class, it wasn't that, I wasn't moving poorly.
It was only towards the end of class that I figured out why.
I was operating under incorrect assumptions, assumptions that I should have seen, but we all make mistakes. Mistakes in the dojo are the best kind, because of the protection in the dojo, mistakes made there are not lethal.
When you are newer to training, everything is naturally new- every movement, drill, kata, philosophy. Train for a while, and you develop ways of moving and viewing things, that might not be correct for the movement in that moment.
The kata being shows, I have done before, so many times, in that when I saw it being demonstrated, I fell back on the form I knew- vs. not just assuming, but working to catch the feeling of what was being taught.
How a slight variation in footwork, changed the distance and timing.
How it was there the entire time, quite visible, IF I had approached the lessons from a new perceptive as if I had never seen the kata before, vs. just assuming it was the one we always do.
I've made this mistake before, we all make this mistake from time to time, so it is a good reminder when it happens.
When shown something in training practice and drill it not stop without variation to build up the lessons of the movement. Once one has a good baseline with that, moving ahead, every time one sees it again- look at as if it is the first time you are seeing it, so none of the subtle changes (either henka or ura waza) are missed.
Or at the very least realize we are studying ninjutsu, and subtle change is always working in everything we do.
See you on the mat.