Despite my wavering (and likely naive) opinions on weapons as of late, I decided to jump right in and go to a seminar on classical Japanese sword technique.
And, well, I loved it.
The instructor, who I have attended sessions with in the past, is truly one of the best I have seen. His breadth of knowledge is immense, and his ability to simplify seemingly intricate techniques is incredible. To top it all off, I got to work on what he showed us with my own sensei for the entire three hours.
And while many realizations were had during the course of the afternoon, two things really hit home with me this time.
Firstly, although I have always known the link between weapons and empty hand exists, this was one of the clearest examples of this concept for me. I could see how the difference between the two could seemingly dissolve, and how the bokken, or wooden sword, could truly become an extension of one's body. (I am not claiming to have mastered this... I am claiming an understanding of how one could master this...). Likewise, I could further feel how one's body could feel more weapon-like, and how the two could in fact be melded together.
Second, and one of the most valuable things I am getting out of my recent foray into the world of weapons, is an intensified view on the importance of timing. On the battlefield, life and death could be reduced to a millisecond, as a technique would work or fail based on the same. This instructor really conveyed this concept, and as a result, he made the techniques seem very real to me. (Of course, this extreme awareness of timing is, once again, transferable back to empty hand.)
Don't get me wrong, I still have a sense of awkwardness in comparison to my normal comfort zone of training. I can feel my shoulders are still stiff and I overthink most aspects of the techniques. But my mind is, in fact, being slowly pried open. My brain is absorbing new material and adding it to my previous knowledge base.
And yes, it was fun this time too.....