The Sword Is Mightier With a Pen

Monday night, Sensei took me aside to the white board and drew symbols representing each of the goho battoho — or, “five (sword) draws”. As soon as I saw the symbols, I realized that I needed to be writing everything down as Sensei had been recommending. For whatever reason, I can’t truly memorize something until I’ve seen it in writing. It works the same way with directions and maps. Someone can tell me how to get somewhere, but it doesn’t really sink in until I’ve seen the route depicted graphically.

Maybe it’s a crazy writer thing.

This revelation came after the last few weeks of flailing around like a dork and not knowing what anything was called. Okay, I exaggerate slightly. I could remember some things. But, for example, I didn’t know the names of the eight basic positions. I knew what the positions were. But although Sensei had certainly said their names enough times, I couldn’t remember them.

So, tonight I brought a notebook and I scribbled liberally. At one point Sensei sat with me and helped me with more Japanese words than I think I’ve ever heard in one sitting without subtitles. My vocabulary has gone ‘splodey. And you have no idea how much eating sushi helps.

It was rough on the pride tonight. I was introduced to the maki uchi — or, “wrap strike” — and sucked at it big time. I had that horrible feeling you get when you know what to do but you can’t bribe your body to do it, no way, no how. I’d tell myself, “No, Body! Just move like this. Don’t do the spazzy thing. Do the awesome thing.” Of course, it wouldn’t. But that’s why I’m paying Sensei to teach me — because I am a massive spazzoid who knows nothing about using a katana to chop off people’s arms. He isn’t and he does.

By the way… shinkendo means “way of the real sword.” A shinken is a katana with a sharpened blade. And someday, if I’m lucky, I’ll earn the right to wield one of these.*



*Domo arigato gozaimashitas, Nihonzashi.

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