Saturday, December 11, 2010


Where do our interactive relational blocks come from?

In relationships, there is a continuum of openness, from the initial introduction levels ("Hi, I'm Toirdhealbheach Beucail and I'm not from around here") to the friendship levels ("How are you doing?") to the deeper friendship levels ("No, I'm serious - How are you doing") to the deepest, most intimate levels at all ("Let me tell you something I've told no-one else"). Perhaps this is a conscious progression - but more often than not it is a subconscious thing, a subtle dance worthy of the cosmic dance of the planets, a delicate constant give and take in our minds about the nature of relationship and what level of sharing we have in each one.

In Iaido, we practice a variety of blocks. The most common is called a nigashi (pronounced "nigash"). This is a high block can be used to protect the head, the arm the side. You would, of course, use a block under two circumstances: you are being attacked or following an attack to prevent the last dying cut (Samurai were always trained no matter what to deliver one last cut).

Note that this assumes that the cut is coming.

I don't wonder that this is same in relationships. True, in all relationships there are times that we can get emotional or spiritually injured. This is just the outcome of us being human and imperfect, that even our best attempts at interactions fall woefully short - we are both attackers and victims.

At the same time, if we are constantly exposed to pain in one or more areas from our coworkers, our boss, our friends or our family, more often than not we begin to develop that block, that barrier against the cut we know is coming.

This, perhaps, explains why in some cases things are not as close as they used to be with some even though nothing outwardly has changed. These barriers come to built perhaps consciously, but just as much unconsciously as our spirit and mind learns to get the sword over our head against the cut we know is coming. Soon, there is no need for the subtle indications such a cut is coming - in certain situations, up comes the nigashi without thinking, a form of mental muscle memory.

It takes the supreme act of will - in Iaido and in life - to stand for the cut you know is coming. In Iaido, there is always trust involved when stand for an exercise by a fellow student or your sensei that the practice cut (using bokudo or wooden swords, of course!) will not land on you. Likewise, it takes a supreme act of will to stand and accept that which you know will bring pain without throwing up the block to protect yourself.

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