Monday, August 22, 2016

On Taking Stock of Progress

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.


John Wooldridge said...

Your last paragraph sums it up nicely TB, although may I add that an inch or so can make all the difference......just ask my George ;-)

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

I am surprised I never thought of the exercise before John. There was a perceptible change in my attitude.