I am currently reading Moving Towards Stillness: Lessons in Daily Life from the Martial Ways by Dave Lowry. One of the chapters that struck a note with me was about 'tsune' which translates as the actions one does on a daily basis almost without thinking. Such activities as brushing one's teeth or putting out the rubbish are considered tsune.
Lowry goes onto to talk about how the training process of a budoka reaches a point where it becomes part of his or her daily routine. This reminded me of something I said to myself when I first started aikido. When I first started to train I told myself that this is something I would do until life got in the way. Little did I know that training in budo would become part of my life!
I'm going to paraphrase the process a budoka goes through according to Lowry.
When a person begins practice, the new budoka's enthusiasm is high and he or she has a strong motivation to train. There is much to learn and to start with it is slow going. How to bow, simple stances and where to place one's hands and feet are the focus. This can be a tough time for the beginner but many push through this stage due to their enthusiasm.
Once the student has been exposed to the basics the learning curve shoots up. Every practice session adds something new and is fun. The budoka can't wait for the next class. Although this is an exciting time this period of rapid learning doesn't last. Sooner or later the learning levels off and the practitioner has been exposed to the main body of the martial art.
Now is the time for polishing waza and perfecting what is already been taught. The budoka has a chance to compare himself with fellow practitioners and may notice others are doing the techniques better or with less effort. Frustration and disappointment may surface at this point. Progress in the art slows, the novelty has worn off and the training has become routine. It is tempting at this stage to find excuses for not training. "I have too much work to do." "I am feeling unwell." "I'll start again after the holidays." This period of a budoka's training is the most challenging. It is the moment when training will become part of his or her life or it will not.
For those who persevere there is the realisation that tsune has begun to work its way into their training and so into their lives. Gradually, over time the budo has become part of the daily routine. At this point if the buodka were to miss a class, he or she may feel that something is not right, like forgetting to brush your teeth before bed. The budoka has embedded practice into the routine of his life.
I find myself some years down the path having trained in aikido and now TSYR. When I started with the koryu bujutsu once I realised this was for me there was no question the training would become part of my life. It was integrated into my life just like aikido.
Building my personal dojo is just another example of how much budo means to me. My wife met me as an aikidoka and knows that budo are part of who I am.
|TSYR members at my dojo.|
There will always be the tension between work, family and training but budo will ALWAYS be there provided my body keeps functioning as it should. I know this like I know I will brush my teeth tomorrow or that I will drive to work in the morning.
It feels so damn good writing this post and realising that tsune describes what training is for me, part of my daily routine.