For the past few weeks, I’ve been working on basic drawing and sheathing work with a wooden blade and sheathe (compressed bamboo). The basic idea is quite straightforward making it surprising how many ways I can mess up pulling something out of a sheathe. It can be frustrating especially by the [insert variable] time I get the blade stuck while someone swinging at me. The fact that they are swinging slowly only makes it more aggravating. That’s what practice is for though, after a week of practicing at home, I seem to be showing some improvement in that I managed to finish the draw more times than I failed. The other interesting thing I noted is how I only seem to fail at drawing when someone is actively swinging at me. It is a rather simple task after all. It’s only difficult when performing under pressure (even if it’s simulated pressure). Which I suppose is getting in some small way at the point of a martial art. Not to be able to demonstrate a series of moves in sequence, but to be able to do so in less than ideal situations. Of course, a practice drill with blunt wooden weapons is still largely artificial, and if we were to really go there, I do suppose it would be different to perform in a practice environment, even a competitive one, and to be able to do so with a live blade swinging at you. And part of the dissonance that I would think most people in the martial arts feel is just that. You can practice for years on end without ever getting a day’s experience. Is there a solution? Perhaps not. We can simulate a pressurised environment to various degrees and try to refine our ability to perform in those, and as I’ve stated already some cracks already start to show in the most basic of drills where there is an element of competition involved, but can I honestly say that I would be able to react the same way if it were for real?
That being said though, even the artificial drills tend to lend some insight. It would have been a few weeks ago I think where we were doing much the same exercise as described above, just a bit more confrontational (the exercise would proceed until someone had hit their opponent) and with foam wrapped nylon swords to free us up to hit a bit harder. Anyways, what happened was that I accidentally messed up on the initial draw cut and my “sword” (it really isn’t one) went flying out of my hand. That in and of itself is one thing and an issue of its own, but more crucially, I stood there for several distinct seconds until I was hit (I think multiple times) without doing anything. And from a martial arts perspective, I do think that IS an insight. Why didn’t I try to at least grab the “sword” again or at the very least run or dodge or do something other than get hit? As I was saying, that’s kind of where you begin to demonstrate your ability or lack thereof. Something to think about at least…
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