Some (short) reflections about the meaning of practicing IAIDO

Ray Ballisti, July 2015

The sentences in the following text are like dots on a piece of paper: you have to connect them to each other with a line using a pencil and then try to understand the resulting picture ...

Imagine you are a spirit floating in a sea of energy in a quiet state: how boring!
So, let's get some movement in this quiet but boring field: yes, a BIG BANG!
A new universe with fixed physical rules!
Now things can happen: stars are born and then explode, galaxies and black holes are built. Lots of planets around a lot of stars.
With a bit of luck, and after eons of unsuccessful trying, somewhere and some time life was born and with a bit more luck some intelligent creature created civilisation (not ours, we are still barbarians).
Life is a challenge. Our daily life is a challenge.
We are experimenting every day in order to reach our goals (if we have any ... ).
But experiments in "real" life can go wrong and often cannot be repeated.
Thus simulations would help.
So let's have a special world in which we can simulate our daily challenges and improve our skill to solve daily problems. You are guessing: yes, our dojo is a kind of laboratory in which we can train our spirit, our will and become better people.
In an Iaido dojo we have a set of rules that we try to follow.
We acknowledge that in order to improve ourselves we need obstacles.
It is in overcoming a difficulty that we can improve ourselves.
Your dojo leader and teacher will take care of this task (creating difficulties) when he (or she) tries to let you improve your Iaido.

To know if we have made any progress we have to find a way to measure it. This is the function of exams and taikai: to give you an opportunity to measure your improvements. Having the goal of passing an exam or of participating in a taikai helps you to focus your training to eliminate the weak points that you have. I guess that everybody has weak points. Unfortunately some (me) more than others.
But that does not matter. Adapting an old Chinese saying to Iaido: it is not bad to make mistakes, but it is bad to give up trying to correct them.
I am a good example of (unsuccessfully) trying since decades to correct my mistakes (sorry for my teachers).
You can go up a mountain by cable car. On the top you can meet people who went up by foot. They are sweating and thirsty but happier than you because they overcame a greater difficulty than getting the ticket out of the ticket machine.
So we need a challenge and IAIDO if full of challenges.
Thus train and become a better person, bringing peace and love to others.

e-mail for comments: ballisti;at;retired;dot;ethz;dot;ch