Thursday, June 25, 2009

Tai Chi, Iaido and Zen

Practicing Nukitsuke this morning - I was reminding the Dai Kyo Soku Ke motto.
Big, Strong, Fast, Swift.

Something comes to mind - One of Tai Chi's aims is the release of internal tensions in the body - muscles, joints, sinews...
Why release tensions ? Because when the body is tense and stiff, the mind is also tense and stiff. But this is not all. It also enables the proper and fast performance of the next move.

When it comes to swordsmanship, if your body has no tension at the end of the initial draw, you are able to carry on with the next cut, switfly, without hesitation, which maybe the difference between life and death.

Slow Tai Chi-like practice of Iaido will help you (or your instructor) figure out residual tensions that slow down your next move (these blockages are usually easier to spot in shoulders and spine, but they really plague your whole body).

Once you become aware of them, you can work at suppressing them by properly realigning your joints. I have no doubt great progress can be achieved this way.

How does this relate to other activities ?

Karate, Kendo, same as Iaido, slowly practice kata paying attention to the body tensions on each impact. Minimize tensions, find the right body form.

Residual tensions in the body (elbows, shoulder, hands...) are the equivalent of what Suzuki Roshi calls "Traces". Imprints of patterns of moves repeated over years and years of practice. Pollution. They prevent us from freely performing the next move. We need to let them drop out - Leave no traces.

One day I might figure out how Zen related to Budo !

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