A Budo Writer’s Lament – Jan 6, 2014, Kim Taylor, CI Sei Do Kai Guelph ON, Nanadan

Haven’t been in the coffee shop for a while, have been spending my time at home, brewing my own pots of coffee and researching into the so-called “lost kata” of the Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu. Not of course so lost as neglected.

My concern isn’t the solo kata, there seems to be a couple of sets of those but we’ve got plenty of solo iai to keep us amused here in Guelph, with ZKR iai, five sets of MJER, Keshi, Shindo Munen (what are we supposed to call it now… koden ryu, Kodoko?). Anyway, there’s plenty to play with there. I’m more interested in the jujutsu and the kenjutsu of the school so I’ve been doing a bad thing. I’ve been resurrecting stuff from books, something we’re not supposed to do.

But I’m doing it anyway, simply because it interests me and I don’t consider learning from a book to be a bad thing. If the book is written by a teacher in MJER, and I’ve been doing MJER for 30 years, I figure I’ve got a good chance of “getting it right”, especially when I look at the variation between teachers and lines in the “live” parts of the school.

You know, since about 2005 there’s been discussions on the net about how some little old guy in back-country Kochi is still doing the lost forms, and threats by those with a reason to go to Japan to look these guys up. In those discussions I’ve usually suggested that you don’t need more than what you’ve got if you can’t practice that often enough. So why look for more? While I really do believe that, I’ve also been waiting for news from those who went to find.

Still waiting. In the meantime I’ve sucked a lot of juice out of the usual kata, and have an itch to see if I can learn more. I’m not getting any younger and I decided to see what the internet and the library could offer. A lot more than I thought it might, and of course much less. Suffice to say I’ve dug up all but 6 of the lost partner kata and I suspect I might one day find those. It’s enough for me to start back with the manual writing, which is a thing that gives me the feeling of doing some work without actually getting out in the snow and doing some work.

Who knows, if I finish one or two of these manuals maybe I’ll get back to all the 90% done books sitting around my place. The holdup of course was always the illustrations but hell, I just figured out how to take photos while I’m demonstrating at the same time. Not perfect, but it works, only one seriously ugly shot out of the first three sets. I may not even bother reshooting it.

No, my problem now is that I keep re-organizing and re-writing the manuals as I find better ways to explain things. They expand and I start thinking maybe I ought to split them yet again. A hundred pages or so seems about right for learning. The next problem is format, do I make e-books or paper? I was leaning to e-books for a while but have swung radically back to paper which will likely be a lot more useful in the dojo and a lot more permanent in the long run. I can still lay my hands on books and manuals from the 80s while I have a hard time figuring out which copy of my current text is the one I should be working on. Or where it is for that matter. People say make backups so I do, and then spend hours trying to find the backups and checking out which is the working copy and which the backups.

I do have a few e-books online at sdksupplies.com now, most free but one is for sale; the Riai of MJER and I’ve sold two copies so far. Not a hopeful record compared to the print stuff. I’ll continue to self-publish all of it, cerlox bound to lie flat and all that. Expensive to produce and quite homegrown in feel but I don’t care, it’s useful and I know where it goes and I make more than if it was with a fancy publisher in a fancy glue-bound cover.

Yeah yeah, it’s not a “real” book but hey, I’m not a “real” teacher so it’s a fit. Info for my students and no frills outside that.

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