My sensei says that we aren’t allowed to go out and test the techniques of our sword school any more against those of other sword schools. He says that those days have been over for a few generations now, and we are supposed to read and research instead.
He says that by reading what the old guys said, and researching into things with our own students we can preserve the sort of understanding that comes with trying this stuff out with sharp swords.
So that’s what I do.
And while I’m reading I read about all these secret techniques that are only shown to the highest level students and I read about all these folks who are really mad that old videos of past sensei show up on the net, and it makes me wonder.
Are these secrets held back for the seniors because we may need them to use on a student who has turned evil and needs to be defeated at the end of the movie with the super-duper-screw-punch? Are we to keep our ancestors’ swordwork secret in case we decide to go all dojo arashi on the school a block over?
Or does a secret make us feel special? Is an upper level technique simply a way of saying to a student “there, now you’ve got the special technique along with the certificate, the bokuto and the founder’s special moustache cup so go forth and see if you can keep this damned school alive for one more generation”.
Or is grampa a bit of an embarassment with his wonky knee and busted elbow? What if some kid says his swordwork is crap? Oh no, what could we do? Well we could turn the comments off on the youtube channel I suppose, but leave gramps up there for those of us who are researching to look at… please.
Same with your website, it may be out of date but that’s exactly what us bookish types want, old information, stuff that isn’t up to the current revisionist standards. You have no idea how comforting it is to see a hundred year old photo that shows folks doing the kata the same as we do it… or even better, showing them doing it differently. Combine that with a fifty year old video of their students doing it “all wrong” and we have something special. Now put that together with some writing from two hundred years ago, put some dates to names, figure out who taught who and you’ve got a much deeper appreciation for the school as a living, breathing thing rather than some glass wind-chime ready to be shattered at the first breath of cold winter wind.
Across the street is a mom with two toddlers, a stroller and a dog. The kids are trying to climb the ice to push the crosswalk button for themselves and mom is trying to juggle the lot so that nobody gets hurt. It takes longer than mom slapping them back into the stroller and doing it herself, but those kids will do well I believe. Teach your kids how to cross the road, don’t forbid them to do it without you.
What you earn is always deeper than what you’re given, and since we can’t go dojo arashi, go data arashi instead. Put your archive online and let someone else match it against theirs, that way both of you earn brownie points and learn things. I suspect that after all the trouble and sore legs that Grampa went to, to make that old super-8 film he’d be well chuffed to know that it’s had 4000 views in the last month. Tough old begger that he was, I believe he’d have something to say to the 15 year old kid who called his technique crap as well. Maybe even a good cuff around the earhole.