Last January I attended the Ishido cup.
It was supposed to be my chance to take exam for sandan but life took a different turn.
While I thought that the day started alright while performing during the seminar which was held before the competition and exams, I know, now that I look back, things where quite different and took a different turn during the competitions.
During the first taikai, while performing “gan men ate”, I cut myself in my left hand. It was in the motion of turning around to prepare for a thrust with the sword.
The first thing I noticed was that the koiguchi cracked from my saya and flew into the air and landed in front of the feet of a waiting iaidoka.
Only after finishing the kata and noticing the wetness on my hand I realized that I really injured myself.
I had to stop the competition and went to the hospital to get two stitches. No exams for me……
Now, the fact that I cut myself due to a bad moment of incomplete sayabiki and bad awareness is one part of the story. I was more surprised about this fact then bothered and know that this is just a technical matter that can be altered easily. Also to deal with the fact that I lost my chance to do sandan exam was easy to relate to as just a disappointment.
What was more important to me was the question that immediately arose in my head; Why did I cut myself?
This question was stuck in my head for two weeks until I, during and after my weekly training, got my answer.
Now, as I tried to write down in my little article that I wrote for Zanshin in December 2013, a personal importance in training iai is the fact of coming across ones demons. (see post added earlier today)
In short, with practicing iaido I noticed that some of my “negative” characteristics are coming to the surface. I call this negative here since these character parts or habits, will prevent your mind to become unselfishly empty.
During the training two weeks after the injury occurred I set my mind to re-evaluating my iai. I wanted to fully focus on every detail, every movement in every kata.
I realized than that through the years I neglected several parts in each separate kata and I was now able to improve these points. While performing the kata during this training I noticed instantly that my performance became better, more relaxed and bigger.
This was a big bonus to learn but still didn’t quite answer my question why I cut myself.
On the evening after the training I was standing in front of my lovely wife and I just blurred it out. There it was…
I told her that I had a wonderful training and that I figgered out why I cut myself during the Ishido cup.
It was a lesson in being humble.
On that moment I realized that a very important “demon” was ready to be “cut”.
Let me explain: through the years of practising iai and other budo before that, one thing was always in my way. The need to seek confirmation and acknowledgement of the idea of being good at doing something. It is something I knew since a long time but thought it was something very bad and had no idea how to deal with it but just to ignore it.
But ignoring it meant that it would come out in uncontrolled and forced manner. My eagerness for the acknowledgement of hearing that I was doing good became an obstacle for having and keeping an open mind. Although my performance wasn’t bad, it still was every now and then influenced by this “demon”.
I guess it all came out on that specific moment in “gan men ate” during the Ishido cup.