One of the great frustration of my iai journey of late has been my acquisition of a new bokuto. It is 3.0 shaku long (35.09", 89.13 cm) and with addition of the tsuka (hilt, 13"/33.02 cm) is 48"/122 cm long. Technically according to the chart for such things (yes, there is a chart) it is slightly longer than I am physically supposed to be able to draw.
It is frustrating because I am basically having to relearn all of my techniques - one would not think a length of a few inches would make such a difference but it does. I feel as if I am making no progress at all.
So on a whim I put my bokuto out to compare them.
The one on the bottom of the photo is my first bokuto, the one that I use for almost for years. It is a standard katana length - 28"/71 cm blade and 10"/25.4 tsuka for a total of 38"/96.4 cm.
The middle one was my second bokuto, the one that represents the preferred length of my school - 33.4"/84.83 cm blade, 11.5"/29.21 cm tsuba. This was the bokuto I got nine months before my menkyo test - and to be fair, I struggled with the greater length (44.9"/114 cm).
I took a moment to do the consideration: first bokuto 38"/96.4 cm, second bokuto 44.9"/114 cm, third bokuto 122 cm. In 7 years I increased my length 10"/26 cm.
So for fun, I tried using my first bokuto again. What did I find? It is now so light that I fling it throw the air losing all technique - and when I try to sheath I cannot, because it is too short. Training with longer and heavier weapons has made me a far different swordsman from the one that struggled to lift the blade that first day.
And all of a sudden my struggles are now cast not in the light of how difficult things are but around how far I have come from that first draw. A pleasant reminder that progress is always there to be seen, if only we will look for it.