Monday, February 24, 2014

A Good Cut

There is something about a good cut.

You know it when you make it.  It is the way that the bokuto or katana feels in your hand as it moves through the air, the angle of the blade which is perfectly aligned as it reaches its terminal point, the pull of your muscles as they align in precisely the right way.  When it happens, it is a thing of remarkable beauty.

It does not seem to happen very often.  For every good cut one goes through many bad cuts, cuts where you hack or chop at the air and the angle of blade is looking up or down (not where it should be) and your your arm finds itself aligned more with some other part of your body.  These cuts one also knows as soon as they are executed - even as one holds the blade out or straight, the mental movie of how it got there continues to play through one's mind.

To watch a master is to watch a series of good cuts strung together.  It is a thing of grace and exquisite beauty - Elegant, as our soke would say.  It is to see everything flowing and moving in a single moment of alignment.

How does one get better cuts?  The simple answer, of course, is to take more of them.  Hundreds of them - nay, thousands.  Draw, cut, align; block, cut, align; cut, cut, align.  Movements back and forth across the imaginary plane of attackers and cutting, always seeking that one moment when everything clicks into place.  Start, stop, start stop.  Step back to the beginning position and start again.


Until the moment comes again, when everything aligns - or better, when a series of moments arrives where is cut is aligned and perfect, flowing gently in the next until one's movements become a dance of speed and grace with the blade marking time. 

I have not reached this point where I can do it on demand and very well never will - but the moments when I have are so peaceful, so graceful, that I can only continue to try until I can.

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