Serendipity in the Way of the Sword
Two people I’ve met through the coincidence of a shared interest, swordmanship or kenjutsu, comes to my mind recently. While practicing, a person named M drove by and started talking to me. I believe I’ve mentioned him before. This time, however, a little girl, J, started mimicking some of my moves with a plastic cane. She was shy at first, running away when I approach her, but eventually I was able to talk to her about learning how to have fun with these sticks in a way that wouldn’t hurt. Especially since she was trying to learn by sparring with her brother. Not a good idea at any age, if you ask me. I have no idea how much, if at all, I’ve helped them out with their problems or objectives in life. They are both free to come visit me again, although many lack the initiative. A couple of working teenagers, pushing a lawnmover on saturday/sunday visited my neighborhood. They wanted me to draw my sword, shinken at the time. So I did a basic iai draw and a few practice cuts, keeping far away from anyone, then sheathed the sword using touch sensitivity. I then talked to them about kenjutsu and how to buy iaitos and shinken online, what to look for, and the safety concerns. They’ll go far in life if they keep to that work ethic they’ve shown. Especially in this economy. So long as they remembered my instructions on buying blunt edged training tools first, and don’t cut off their ear, arm, or legs, that is.
I do not believe I was ever interested in teaching others as a primary goal in life, though helping them felt beneficial overall. I seem to recall a common saying that the beginning martial artist has too much on his plate to be much interested in teaching. Bruce Lee’s first generation students were more accurately his training partners that he taught Wing Chun trapping to, because it was Lee’s way to promote stronger opponents, which in turn forced Lee to evolve his personal art. The focus I’ve spent on improving myself, improving the efficiency at the rate I train via my independent study time and with various different open handed or weapon arts, coincidentally results in me having great fun at teaching or instructing others on how to have fun with this stuff. And having fun, makes life easier to live. It also requires me to gain a complete understanding of martial arts, to the point where I can instruct kids or complete beginners. I tend to use the touch sensitivity method of many Chinese gong fu instructors, combined with the martial theory present in various Taiji Chuan courses. I do not care to place a label on my own abilities, but it seems to jibe with the level where a student in the H2H fields begins to be interested in explaining, showing, and teaching others. And perhaps I’ve gained a greater than average level at teaching precisely because my original training was never a “hold their hands” kind of thing. A lot of importance was placed on individual initiative, responsibility, and independent study. If you didn’t want it bad enough, if you didn’t put in the work to come up with your own training regimen, you weren’t going to get anywhere. Certainly nobody was going to tell you to train or tell you how to do certain things a certain way.