Who’s on first. – Kim Taylor, Renshi, CI Sei Do Kai Guelph ON, Nanadan Iaido and Roukudan Jodo

One of our students who lives and works in China is heading for Japan in a couple of weeks to challenge 6dan once more, so we have been working on seitei jo while he is here. It’s a tough situation for him, he is teaching a few students but has nobody to practice with.

At one point he said “I just said that same thing to my student”. There’s an answer to why we teach, it’s to learn what we’re doing wrong. Students watch and learn from us, if they are doing something strange, it’s a very good bet that we are doing that same thing as their instructor. After all, where would they learn it otherwise.

Well, OK in the kendo federation there’s a lot of inter-sensei traffic even outside the big seminars, and who knows what bad habits our kids are picking up at that other school, but on the whole, it’s our fault.

Ah, remembered the clever title I had for today. Less worry about dementia, but now I’m worried because I’ve got a big hole in my vision. I smiled, I stuck my tongue out, I said “welcome to the window” to myself so I’m thinking maybe it’s just winter glove or hand lotion in my eye. And yes, the self-monitoring we ought to do all the time can get a bit worrisome when we get older as it turns to a hunt for that inevitable breakdown.

During class we got into a discussion on who moves first when approaching each other in a kata. Some sensei have told us that sword moves from hasso to chudan at the 2.5 step forward, others the third step, and jo matches that move. Jo being in kasumi no kamae (we’re talking number 7 of seitei, Kasumi). Kasumi? OK now I’m second guessing the names… To the internet! Yes kasumi. Holy Moley.

Some sensei have told us that jo steps forward to start the process and so sword matches that move.

Deary, deary me, who to follow. When the topic was brought up I said “I don’t care”, which, even to me sounded a bit egotistical, I mean who am I to say what it is or isn’t, whether it’s important or not. Oh wait, I’m teaching, it’s my job to say that stuff, but you know, I have a reason so why not give it.

Is this a migraine? Center vision has cleared up but now I’ve got wiggly stuff around the perifery that darts in and out. Blasted annoying it is. Doesn’t help that I use dollar store reading glasses I suppose. Yeah, migraine maybe, now I’ve lost periferal vision on the left, was checking it out and the lady walking by outside thought I was waving at her. Never had a migraine that I know of.

Our visiting student has made the observation that I will make up a reason for this or that on the fly, that I will come back from a seminar and happily tell the class something entirely opposite what I told them last week and never explain the change at all. My response was that the class never seems to notice, which got a round of those faces you get when the kids think dad is losing it again but we’re just not going to argue about it.

Nevertheless, I haven’t changed my mind on this one. Jo has the stick up in front of his face, tachi can’t cut straight down so would have to cut the left shoulder. If he does that he would open up the center and jo would clobber him. So tachi gets clever and says to himself “I’ll slip into chudan and take his wrist” which is exposed. Chudan puts the sword much closer to the wrist. Jo says “Oh no you don’t” and drops to chudan to match and we have another of those strange kamae fights resolved into chudan once more. There are several of those in Jodo, you get a couple of weird stances that resolve into the same old, same old at contact.

Now that you know what’s happening, who’s on first? Who moves first? My personal opinion is that tachi moves first because of my story, but I also don’t care, because at any instant either tachi or jo could strike as the maai, the distance, comes to the place where either could attack. No matter who moves first, the other needs to respond instantly, there is no first. First wins. So from the outside the match should look instantaneous, it doesn’t matter who moves first, both move together (as they move together). Now, if you do that none of the sensei who have told you who moves first will be able to complain.

Me neither, although I’m happy to see either one of you move first as long as the other one is responding as if they are paying attention and not ticking off boxes on the checklist in their head.

Kim Taylor
Dec 22, 2017

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