Shodan


In all my born days, I never imagined I'd ever say "I have a black belt" in something.

Except for a brief flirtation with Tai Chi about ten years ago (something I'll eventually do again when I can find a class that's not on a Wednesday), martial arts was never an aspiration or draw of any kind. It had never been on my radar. And, when I got old enough to truly understand the limitations of my vision, I gave up hope of a lot of things. Along with issues of distance and detail, I have no real depth perception nor peripheral vision; so even simple acts that others take for granted - driving a car, facial recognition more distant than arm's reach, reading packaging - were either beyond my reach or had to be handled differently enough that it put me at odds with certain aspects of daily life. It limited a lot. Oddly, though, I sometimes forget I have a disability at all. Sometimes I have to remind myself of it, because I was never raised with the idea that I was disabled. My grandparents, through the ineptness of having no idea how to deal with a disabled kid, did me a huge favour that way. Accommodations were made when needed and requested, though; so schools did their best, and work does its best. It's limited my choices in a way that's done me very few favours, but it didn't limit all of them.

You learn to alter your focus a little when you have an impediment. I haven't yet figured out how to work this to my advantage so far as work goes, but I have figured out how to roll with the punches when it comes to my art. Given the limitations of my vision, it's a good thing it turned out that I like surrealism and abstraction. It limits choices with sports, also. Not a good idea to get into contact sports, y'see, when you can't see without your glasses, and still can't see with them. Knowing this, I figured I could still one day learn how to use a sword. At least sort of. I figured I could learn how some moves without learning how to fight with one. Hey, when you're me and can't tell the difference between melon and cheese cubes on a buffet table, it's not a good idea to get into any sport that might involve skewering someone - intentionally or otherwise.

So when I found out about Iaido, I was curious. It's not at all what I was looking for, but is. It's surprised me in a lot of ways. Although, what's surprised me the most about it, is how dedicated I've become to it. I've never been dedicated to very much in my life - especially not something that is so contrary to my impatience. Iaido is exacting, fussy, can sometimes be tedious; requiring that you do the same thing repeatedly; again, and again, and again. Everything has a reason or a purpose - every bow, every pleat in the hakama, every angle, every step. Not at all the thing you'd expect someone to be doing who wishes everything was done yesterday. But, two and a half years later, and here we are.

Apparently the hard work is just beginning, though. I've got one more lazy Wednesday, and then it's off to the races of preparing for Nidan (second degree); according to my sensei, that is.

We'll see. :)

- - -

Unlike last year, I didn't completely lose the tape this time around. A strip of tape is used to mark our starting point, and the point at which we must stop. We should be behind the line when we bow, with the sword on the other side - whether we're standing or kneeling. I lost my grip on the sword during the third waza (seitei soete-zuki), and I thought I'd be done for at that point. Then, after I finished my next to last waza, though, I realised I was about a foot too far to the left of the line, and had to compensate a little to step forward and to the right enough to be right at it. I was shaking like a spastic colon though, and my hands were sweating like things that are sweating a lot. This, though, is one of the reasons the sword hilt (tsuka) is wrapped in cotton, silk, or leather - to facilitate grip. I was told by observers that I was very smooth, which is good. I don't feel like I had much, if any, jo ha kyu. I was most concerned about reiho, though; which is half the battle. If you've got sloppy reiho, you're screwed. I almost forgot what waza I was going to do though, which would have been bad. Ah well, it's all over - for now.

My gear awaits.


The Saturday Samurai preparing for grading.


I passed!



2017 12 03 - 02:35

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iaido