Training Oct 2006
Don't Even Think About Starting:
copyright © 2006 Kim Taylor,
all rights reserved
unless you can attend three practices a week
Oh my, three practices a week minimum in front of a sensei. That's what
I saw recommended somewhere on the net, and if you can't do that,
don't bother starting.
Wow, what a different generation it is, and how lucky to be able to
have such an opportunity.
While I have no problem with someone who wants to devote so much time
to an art, I would remind people that it's also important to have a
life. By that I mean that it's important to do as much practice as you
can, without making it a burden on your life. If it's a burden you
aren't going to do it.
I can't begin to count the number of "super keen" students who have
started, practiced each and every class plus on their own for several
more per week, and then simply disappeared never to be seen again after
a month or two. I suspect they realize that they can't make all the
classes they promised themselves (and often me) that they'd make, so
they don't make any at all.
I'd also like to point out that if you can get to a class once a week,
you're doing as well or better than we were able to manage in 1987, and
a hell of a lot better than I could manage from 1983 to 1987 where I
was dependant on the occasional seminar somewhere in North America.
But more important, if you can practice iaido once a week for 15 years
it's going to do you a lot more good than nothing, or three times a
week for half a year and then quitting because you managed to get a
life and have other things to do with your time for two of those three
Another small point, now 23 years after my first iaido class, I will
say that if I tried to practice iaido three or more times a week I
would not be walking. I work out 4-6 times a week, but several of those
are "cross training" which allows my shoulders, knees, wrists etc. to
keep doing iaido. Can we say Repetitive Strain Injury...
Anyway, not to make to big a fuss here, but if people are assuming it's
now a requirement that one practice iaido at least three times a week,
I would suggest that it's simply because now it's actually possible to
practice three times a week. No such requirement was present or
possible 15 years ago. We practiced as often as we could, and then
swung the sword on our own time as much as possible.
And as an aside... what have I noticed with students who have the
luxury of a sensei so often these days? Students who have incorporated
the correction of sensei into their kata. It now runs, do mae, have
sensei say "you've got a hitch at the top of your swing" and the
student replies "oh dear is that still there, sorry sensei". And on it
goes for years.
Having done that much teasing, I will say that students today are
improving a hell of a lot faster than we did, as they should be, and
perhaps it's because they have three classes a week they can attend. Or
perhaps it's because they have so many more good instructors now, and
those instructors are taking them past the stumbling blocks so much
more efficiently than we went past.
But a final thought. In our club we have indeed had three classes a
week for many years, and from the beginning one of my senior students
recommended that we cut back to 2 or even one. His argument was that
with three classes it's awfully easy to skip one, intending to make the
next. With fewer classes the students tend to show up.
Since I made every one of those classes for all those years, I've got
to agree with him.