Uchi Deshi: Live In Martial Arts Student Stories

It was 3 AM and A. had just fallen asleep.
I was ready to pass out myself, not only tired from training, but also from staying up late talking to A.
But it was worth staying up, even if that now meant I couldn’t let myself fall asleep.
As a senior student in the dojo, I looked up to him, tried my best to emulate him, and wanted to find out what he knew about training.
It didn’t happen every time, but it a happened with enough frequency that I made sure I was ready.
It was always around this time of night.
I could hear the stairs to the dojo shifting, the door silently open, and somebody smoothly moving into the room.
Lights on.
Get up.
Time for some bojutsu training.
I told A. there was a reason for sleeping in your gi.
It was not only an opportunity of a lifetime, but also the perfect opportunity given the time of where I was in life- as I had no commitments other then training in the martial arts as much as I could. It was a chance to be an uchi deshi in the dojo, a commitment that once I made I could not back out of if I wished to continue training in the dojo.
The *rules* were simple.
I was expected to continue training in all weekly classes and on my own outside of weekly class, while staying over and “living” in the dojo during the weekend. I wasn’t allowed to leave the dojo during my stay at any time except to grab food from some of the shops around the corner as the dojo didn’t have any cooking or eating facilities.
Outside of Saturday and Sunday training times, I was expected to train on my own inside the dojo, while keeping everything in order/clean, answering the phone and responding to any inquiries.

Sometimes a senior student would stop by to work out with me, other times my teacher would show up, and when he did it was always unannounced.

Mostly it was a lot of hours just working out alone on the basics (kihon).

In the Japanese martial arts an uchi deshi, also sometimes called a tsukibito, is a live in student in the school. It is a kind of apprenticeship which can vary depending on the tradition and the setup of the school. 
Some school have a dedicated, if not small, living facility similar to a dorm attached to the dojo, while other may have living facilities close to school. Sometimes the apprenticeship lasts for a defined set of time, while for others it lasts until it just ends. It is a unique training opportunity that offers an experience based on intensity.   

What was one of the things that I experienced from it that I am able to share?


Immovable heart.

Hours and hours spent just training, with nothing else to do, even if I wanted to do something else. It was a wonderful artificially created environment to exist in.

One starts training with a plan- practice the kihon happo, kamae, or any of the basics.

Do lots of repetitions.

Explore lots of different ways of doing the basics.

Exhaust every conceivable way of *thinking* about how to do the techniques, engage every part of the logical mind, until there is nothing left to think about- but there is still hours to train.

So one just starts training without thinking.

Mushin ( no mind/ no thought), but more fudoshin as it took perseverance to just keep going to push past the rational mind.

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