2016 04 07 - 21:09

This is absolutely my favourite waza to watch done by others...

… it is not so much fun doing it myself.

… especially not when both of your palms are bruised, and several muscles stiff, because you tripped on a piece of sidewalk the night before your class, in front of a Presbyterian church (the lovely cakey looking one on James St. S., for those locals playing along at home). I mention this only because a) I like to provide comic entertainment to people, and b) I may be going to hell, and wish to give everyone there a heads up.

… also worth noting: I fell so artfully that I fell right out of both of my shoes and my hat fell off.

… sadly, unlike the time I fell on a dark sidewalk and broke my finger, there was no beer involved.

Re: the waza: It’s a difficult one to carry off, because every one of the overhead cuts is done at a different angle. There are eight standing waza suitable for testing at grading time. This will be one of the ones I don’t do.


It’s worth noting that were I, as a mere beginner, to even try this at grading, they might fail me just for being arrogant enough to do it. It is not a beginner’s waza.

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Monkey art

2016 03 14 - 21:05

These are the two pieces of Year of the Monkey artwork by Cruise Sensei that I won on Saturday. Sadly, my crappy scanner doesn’t show the niceties.

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Sword / Gear

2016 03 14 - 20:11

I was hoping to get a big girl sword of my very own on Saturday, but the ones that were available in the right size for me, were not at all ‘right’. Almost a good thing anyhow, given that the price was way over what I could afford. That’s what’s going to be the big stumbling block – cost. I can’t at all afford one, but I need to find a way to make it happen. I was expecting an influx of cash that isn’t now going to happen, so that binds my luck. Makes me a little frustrated on a few counts, not the least of them being that I don’t like borrowing things from people, not big things. I’m grateful to have the sword that was lent to me; but, at the same time, I don’t feel comfortable borrowing it. It makes me feel a little unsettled.

Who knows, maybe I’ll yet win a lottery.

I’m not keen on buying a sword online without being able to hold it first, but I might have to chance it, and hope the seller in question has a good return policy if it’s not the right sword for me. There’s a huge selection at this site, which has the added advantage of being in Canada (no duty or exchange) and offering free shipping on orders over a certain amount.

By the way, if you’re looking for martial arts gear and equipment – for Kendo, Aikido, and Iaido – this site is a good place to start.

AOI Budogu



2016 03 13 - 20:39

Here’s the ceramic bowl I won at the seminar yesterday. It’s a lovely piece, about a foot across. He said there was something Zen in the pattern, that I’d notice when I took a good look at it. I haven’t noticed yet, but I’m blind, so it could either be there, or it’s not being there could be the point. :)


It’s skulls, those bumps in the bowl. I had to email him and ask!

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Welland Iaido Seminar, 2016

2016 03 12 - 20:36

I have survived my first all day Iaido seminar. What a wonderful experience that was. We got to train with each of four different top-level senseis, each of them taking a different chunk of the seitei-gata. I learned an awful lot, some of which I know I’ll forget, and some of which I’m still processing.

I also managed to win three of the five door prizes, including a wonderful piece of ceramic by Chris Sora (which I’ll take a photo of when I have better light), and the Year of the Monkey artwork by Cruise sensei that I really wanted, because I’m a monkey. I think I received at least half a dozen friendly death-threats from fellow students. :)

Also worth nothing that I did not poke any eyes out, nor cut anything off, and I think I may accidentally have eaten eel at our sushi dinner afterwards.

After the past couple of weeks, a really good day was overdue, and desperately needed.



2016 03 02 - 18:53

I also learned how to strike down three annoying people at one go. Look out, world. I work in a call centre. You can imagine how handy this will be.

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Fast is a four-letter word

2016 02 11 - 20:29

My biggest problem in Iaido, is that I don’t slow down enough. I go too quickly. If you go too quickly it throws off your balance, it throws everything off, and you don’t internalise the waza so that when you’re a 70 year-old 8th dan master, you can make it all look as smooth as butter.

While I was on my own doing a little work on Kesa-giri today, sensei was making some commentary to another student about their work with the same waza, and then he said, of me, “She’s a completely different person when she slows down.”

I prefer to take that as a compliment.


Eyes and Balls

2016 02 06 - 20:39

A friend and I, talking about our respective sports loves - she's football and I'm baseball, ascribed it to the fact that you love what you grow up being used to seeing. That's true, in a lot of ways. She grew up watching football with her father, going to Tiger Cats games and the like; and I grew up watching baseball with my grandfather, and classic Dodgers/Yankees grudge match world series. I don't watch baseball much anymore - I don't have cable (nor even a TV), watching the games online can be flakey at best, and the strikes kind of did a number on me years ago that I never quite got past. I've only ever been to one major league game, where the Red Sox beat the pants off the Blue Jays 14 - 1. I swear, as a visually impaired woman I'm sure I could have played outfield better that day than the guy who was doing it.

Here's the thing... I can still watch games if I want, but unless I watch them on TV it goes right by me. That's the one beauty, though, of watching baseball on TV - they always make it very clear where the ball is at any given time. With hockey, football, and basketball, to my eyes it's merely bunches of men going back and forth across various colours of surface. I can't see the detail. It's all lost on me. It just sort of hit me yesterday, when I thought maybe I should watch some of the online Coal Bowl games (it's a basketball tournament in Cape Breton that, as it happens, some of my cousin's children are playing in), even though I've never had a love of basketball, just to see what's going on - to keep in touch with what my family is doing and all that. But, there we are, all the detail of what's going on would be lost on me, so it's more groups of men running back and forth across a surface.

I used to think all the time about what I was missing in life, but not really in a participatory way. It was more of a can't-drive-a-car, can't-be-a-doctor, can't-operate-machinery sort of thinking. Today, though, I think about all the things I've missed because I can't see the detail. No animals-in-the-forest-watching, no people-watching, no shared sports experiences, no eye contact games with men. People have accused me of being rude because I don't look around when I hear someone who shouts after me without using my name, nor do I look at honking cars. No point. I can't see the people in the car, and unless you're within a couple of feet of me, I won't see you standing across the road shouting at me. Rather, I might see you, I just won't know it's you.

So, I spent a lot of my life not bothering with certain things, because there was no point in learning them - there was no point in learning the details of a sport I could never actually enjoy - either as a participant or a spectator. I never learned the details of most sports for that reason. I never bothered flirting with people for the same reason. At times, not being able to participate has been incredibly frustrating. It hasn't stopped me from having adventures and enjoying my life - but a lot of my pursuits are solitary, individual, and late-blooming.

Oddly, one of the things I enjoy most - making art - is only augmented by bad vision, rather than being hampered by it. Do I live the life of a photo-realist? Hell no; but I wouldn't want to. I'm a surrealist, an abstractionist, I like art made from accidents, and bad vision only helps. I prefer abstract art to representational art. I never much got into landscapes, unless it looked like a Dali-esque nightmare. I don't care for portraits either. I get more feeling out of abstract works - from colours, shapes, patterns - maybe because that's sometimes all I see of the world. It was great when I was taking a lot of photographs, because I did what I called abstract photography sometimes. It was never about taking pictures of Things, it was about taking pictures of their shapes and the way they fitted in to what was around them.

My life is a piece of melon on a buffet fruit tray. One time I took a couple of cubes off a tray because I thought they were cheese, because from my eye-level looking down at a buffet table is just a sea of colours. My friend Diane spent a week in Cuba walking behind me at the resort's buffet line whispering in my ear about what was on the dishes in front of me. It's why I like buffets that label the food trays - at eye level. Makes life a little less gastronomically surprising.

I've missed out on a lot, which I suppose was my point - and it was sad, and sometimes still is; but I haven't missed out on everything, and that's good.

Incidentally, I hate melons - but I ate the cubes just the same, because I was too embarrassed not to.

art, iaido, personal
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2016 02 05 - 09:11

This is the kata I learned yesterday.<br /><br />I only hit myself in the face once!

This may look simple, but as you step forward and draw the sword from the saya, you need to turn the saya and sword such that when fully drawn and swung up over the head, the ha (cutting edge) swings through your opponent from hip to shoulder, and thus the mune side of the blade (the back edge) is initially facing forward when swung up over the head. You then turn the blade around so that you can do a second diagonal cut along the kesa – the diagonal line of the monk’s robe (opponent’s gi) from shoulder to hip.

Incidentally, this man is a) going to be teaching at the Iaido seminar I’m going to in March, and b) will be selling me my very own big girl sword.

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2016 02 03 - 20:32

Today I also stayed for the advanced class. How to put this…

It’s a damned good thing I’m not working with a shinken, because I would have cut my left arm off at least once, or given myself some very interesting scars – which might have looked like a very enthusiastically botched suicide attempt.

Come to think of it, I’m almost sorry I didn’t. I’ve run out of things to talk about with my buddies at work.

Note the position of the left arm and the closeness of the sword to it as it emerges from the saya and comes up the side and back.

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