So here we are at the halfway point – number 5 – with another triviality:
get out of your box!
Going to seminars, being seen, knowing other iaidoka and sensei in not only pleasant but also very useful for a iaido enthusiast.
We can only be enriched, both spiritually and technically, by being helped along the way by different sensei, by seeing people different from those we usually practice with; some of them are among the best in Europe.
There is an added bonus: some of the sensei you meet will likely referee your next competition. We can improve if we listen to their explanations and learn what they consider important. We might even try and show them that we succeded in applying on the corrections they gave us at the seminar six months earlier: they might look at us under a different light.
Let’s not forget that we all are human beings, with both merits and weaknesses, and referees are no different. We can build good relationships by getting to know them, practicing with them, chatting with them over a nice beer and, most of all, showing through our iaido that we listen to and value their corrections, that we strive to apply what they are trying hard to teach us.
Getting to know the sensei, hanging out with them, being seen at seminars is a definite help. When you are on a shiai jo and the referees know who you are and what you can do, they are ready to pay attention to you to see how you will perform in the shiai. Of course this might be a double-edged sword: you will have to do well in that shiai!
To conclude, taking part in seminars and after-seminars enriches us both as human beings and as iaidoka and makes us more visible to the referees.
A fun story
I remember an episode from two years ago in Kyoto: Rene sensei gave us a call telling us to meet him at a restaurant near the train station. With some difficulty Danielle and I finally reached the restaurant; we ended up having dinner with Ishido sensei, Matsuoka sensei, Morishima sensei, Kinomoto sensei… I felt very small, overwhelmed by so many Dan, but boy what a night! What a talk about iaido! The after-seminar improves our iaido as well as the seminar, as Danielle often reminds me!