Practice Less

Practice less, don’t work too hard, it is better for you! During the past few months while I was observing my students (suburi) practice, they appeared to be working very hard and putting every effort into the practice - at least in my presence. Do they really get anything out of the practice? Maybe, maybe not, maybe the technique is getting worse! It is dependent upon how you practice.

I once had a senior student told me that he practiced 300 cuts a day. Another student heard this student’s comment and replied, “I practice 400 to 500 cuts a day", and then another student interjected into the conversation and said, "I practice 1500 cuts a day"! I then asked the last student “how much time does it take you to practice 1500 cuts? His reply was, “around 25 minutes". I then asked, what are you thinking about during these 25 minutes? “I am counting!" I replied, “You better not lose count, or you will have to start all over again!”

Suburi is a repetitive movement technique. If you do it correctly over a short period of time you will show improvement. It is a method of programming information into your subconscious mind – part mentally, and part physically. If you use the correct technique, with each cut you make, you will improve. With the wrong technique, the opposite results will occur.

In the beginning, the body will train the mind to recognize what is the correct movement and what is not. The mind will analyze this information and retain it. After continuous, slow and careful practices, the mind will take on a role in correcting and perfecting each movement.

Each person has their own way of practicing and each teacher will have their own method of teaching. The final goal is to achieve the results and ultimate techniques of perfection. If the goal is achieved, and you have not injured yourself, there is no right or wrong method of practice. My recommendations for the practice of suburi – is to start with slow correct movements, doing each step in detail required for the movement. Then practice until you become tired or have lost your concentration. This could be from 50 to 80 good quality cuts and then you should stop. Any further practicing will not necessarily improve the end result. In fact, you may suffer from injury in your muscles or in your joints. Until your technique has improved, and you have become stronger, then you can consider practicing a little longer. After all, suburi is a life-time of training.

Remember, cut with your mind!

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As Autumn Comes

As autumn comes, that beautiful golden and red color reminds me of a time when I visited my sensei’s dojo. Normally, October is not my training season, but that year I accompanied my mother to an ikebana conference in Tokyo. So, I had a chance to visit my sensei again. The Dojo was the same: clean, quiet, everything in order. But I see that the garden is a bit different. The trees only have a few yellow leaves on them. That maple tree, I remember it was full of leaves in the summer and now only has a few red leaves. It is still beautiful, just different. It gives me a chance to see what those branches are really like. But I was hoping to see it in full autumn color! As I was day dreaming and watching the sunlight go between those tree branches, I heard Sensei say "You should have come a few days early kid. Don’t you remember that one of the classical poems said: ‘If it is time to pick the flowers, you should pick them. Don't wait another day, you may miss your chance!’ It was full of color

a few days ago. The leaves are still here, just on the ground! But it is good you are here now, you can clean up the leaves!"

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Call For Volunteers and Donations

Touhoku Splash

As many of you know, a brutal earthquake and tsunami devastated Japan on March 11th, leaving many without basic necessities. As students of a Japanese martial art, many of us have friends and family that have been affected by this disaster; the dojo would like to support the efforts of volunteers, community groups, and charity organizations to help those who have been affected make it through this ordeal. For students of the dojo, there are a couple of things that can be done in order to provide assistance:

Here at home, the Edmonton Japanese Community Association is holding a Japan Disaster Relief Fundraiser on Saturday, April 16th. The event will include a silent auction, food, and entertainment. The EJCA is looking for silent auction items valued at $50 or more. The silent auction donations do not need to be physical items, but can be vouchers for services (such as 5 hours of carpentry work). As well, volunteers are needed for the event; any students that can donate some of their time before or during the event should contact Andrew.

On a larger scale, students are encouraged to donate to the Red Cross relief efforts, either directly through the Red Cross website, or through the EJCA.

Information about the event can be found on our events page, here.

Canadian Red Cross