Last night I had a bit of a revelation. An epiphany, if you will. One of those "Aha!" moments. And it was just more proof that sometimes when we are taught certain things or given certain lessons they won't always make sense to us until much, much later down the road. What, exactly, am I talking about?
Fudoshin is a Japanese term that means "Immovable mind." This idea was explained to me probably about a year ago by my sensei and at the time I didn't do much with it. Whether I didn't fully understand it or I was focusing on other issues that I had in Kendo I cannot say, but it was a concept that stayed in the back of my mind until last night. For a bit of background on how it came about, read on.
During my lunch break yesterday I was watching some videos online of Takanabe Sensei and his visit to one of the dojos here in the PNKF region. Takanabe Sensei, if you don't know, recently won this year's All Japan Kendo Championship, which is a tournament of the best kenshi that Japan has to offer. During the video he went through explaining various ideas and techniques, and that all was invaluable enough, but what really caught my attention was watching him during jigeiko. I noticed that he hardly ever backed up. Ever. He always pressured forward, pressured forward, until that pressure came to a point where either he or his partner would explode into a technique. Something in my head clicked while I watching this. I said to myself, "Self, there are a lot of things going on here that are over your head. But this one thing, never backing up, why are you not doing this?" Sounds kind of silly, but it's true. I have a bad habit of backing up during jigeiko, and one that I've been told about many times. What came rushing up as a response was "I can't fight like that..." which then formed itself into "I'm not fighting like that.." Which finally turned into "I'm going to try fighting like that."
So my focus last night, especially during jigeiko, was to not step back. While doing that I think I made a bit of a breakthrough. I would step in with a strong kamae and instead of backing up as I would normally do, I either stepped forward or to the side, and I always kept my strong kamae and imagined keeping that pressure on my partners. I imagined myself as a wall bearing down on them, and there was nothing they could do to stop me. When that breaking point came I would either strike or if they struck first I tried to counter as best as I could. Did I get hit? Yes, a lot. Did I get countered? Again, a lot. But I continued into my techniques, doing my best not to hesitate just because I felt or saw their attacks something. And I think to succeeded in that focus of always moving forward and never backing down last night.
I'm not sure if outwardly I appeared to fight any differently, but that's ok. Inside, in my head, I felt different. I hope to keep that feeling going. I know that there is so much more to the concept of Fudoshin than I experienced last night, but I think that I took a step in the right direction. I've really been searching for something that I couldn't quite put my finger on recently in my training. I think this might have been it.
To end, I would like to say thank you to everyone that was at practice last night. I had a great practice with everyone and you all are the reason that I push myself as much as I do. I get the best from you so I want to always give my best right back.