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Am I getting worse?

Tuesday was one of those classes where I felt like I did very few things correctly. We're ramping up for the Sei Do Kai Spring Seminar in Guelph, so we're practicing setei kata or Zen Ken Ren Iai. I made tons of mistakes. Sensei Green said I wasn't getting worse, I am getting better because the mistakes were there before and I couldn't see them. Now I can see how awful I am and since I know how bad I am, I have a starting point for improvement.

It makes sense. I took a course on Learning How to Learn and part of a lesson was about how a period where one feels totally incompetent is often followed by a large amount of improvement. It's a normal part of the learning process.

So what am I doing badly? A whole lot.

I have this problem where I can do one thing or another thing, but combine the two and it's game over. This often happens with cutting and metsuke. With metsuke, I can't see my imaginary opponent, so I don't look down at the appropriate time as though I am seeing her falling to the ground. It's like I remember part way through that I need to be doing metsuke. Maybe I should practice metsuke without the sword?

I have trouble gripping the sword properly and I think that is part of my cutting problem because as I bring the blade down, my left thumb is often in the perfect position for my right tendons to run into it and I become somewhat limp-wristed. That really isn't useful for cutting.

But I also bounce. Instead of stopping where I am supposed to I bounce. Sensei said this could be partly do to wrist strength. The likely culprit is too much right hand and improper twisting of the hands to make the blade stop.

I probably spend too much time focusing on whether or not my sword makes noise. The reality is that my sword has a smaller surface area on which to create noise. I think I'm focusing too much on this aspect and letting other things fall by the wayside as a result.

Lately I'm even having trouble getting up from the ground without my hakama tripping me. This is probably due to losing some weight and it hanging differently. I should probably make some alterations before the seminar. I need to alter the sleeves anyway as my tsuka-gashira keeps getting hooked on them and its driving me crazy. It looks too puffy anyway.

My biggest issue seems to plague me outside of Iaido as well. I'm bad for not reading things thoroughly because I'm often in a rush to get to the next moment. This leads to parking tickets and buying things with allergens in them among other things. In Iaido that issue has me turning my foot in anticipation of the next move and doing crappy cuts from incorrect starting points.

A big problem is continuous movement versus choppiness and speed. I keep putting power into my cuts at the wrong point of the cut.

I need to finish one cut before I move onto the other cut, but keep moving slowly in between so it doesn't look like I've forgotten the next step.

I guess I can add power later. Right now my power seems to come from my speed. It's wild and unruly. I should be in better control of every aspect of my body, mind, and sword.

It looks like I need to slow down in several areas of life.

- Roy Iaidoka

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